Music & Memories

I have always loved to sing and write songs although I don’t know how to read notes/fancy characters on a music sheet. 
I watched my mother play when I  was little and with inquisitiveness I would sneak her song book and check the pages where chords are. When I learn to play I got so addicted and love it so much that she would hide her guitar because I don’t get my chores done in the house and I burned the rice (dinner) many times. 

I don’t have the greatest quality, high pitch voice but I sing with all my hearts’ desire because I love it. 

We do what we love. It doesn’t matter how it may sound as long as it feels right from the inside. 

Let everything that has breath praise the Lord!  Psalm 150:6

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Grateful

This mom is/still wearing a happy face after having a great time swimming today with the little one. She is happy, I am happy.

Time is too short. I hate it when I feel like I am a  slave of it, but I learn to prioritize things. What and who matters the most comes first. 

I don’t mind leaving dirty dishes, not putting clean laundry right away, and serving leftovers or making egg sandwiches for dinner when time is short. 

But I really love to leave the house organize so that when we come home all I have to do is flop in the couch and relax. Anyway, being a mom and wife does teach us to be flexible, unselfish, manage time and prioritize things. It does make us like monsters too when things go wrong because we care too much. 

Let’s not forget to breathe and love the life we are given. Be grateful and keep making memories! 

A happy heart makes the face cheerful. Proverbs 15:13

Reading, The Struggle Is Real

I never like to sit and read. As soon as I notice how thick and how tiny the words are written, I get bored already. But I taught her to read, and I learn to put dramatic effect on my voice when story telling. That was when she was little, and I can’t do it now, because she doesn’t want me to ruin the story. She would push me to read. She will leave the book right where my seat is at the dinner table. I know it is due to be returned but she won’t do it. She would check if the bookmark has been moved. I told her that I don’t understand some words, if everything is written in basic or simple English I will probably read a lot.

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Reading one of Ben Carson’s book. She thinks, he is a brilliant genius.

I find it boring and not interesting because I struggle. It happened many times, when she have tears rolling to her cheeks (literally) or laughing and I just keep on reading without realizing we’re on the climax of the story. Climax, I learned that from her. I would probably use “height” or “thrilling part”. When I hear her say with a look of disappointment , “Mahhmm!”, I probably mispronounced the word “people” as “peepool”.

And since I let her check this journal right at this moment where she is standing beside me, she wanted me to add that the climax is the turning point of the story. Another learning point for me with this kid. She does what I asked her to do and that is to check my grammar and vocabulary.

By the way,  I finished the two books she recommended me to read. She must be proud. LOL!

(She asked me to delete the word LOL because this journal is formal writing not informal writing, according to her, and I don’t need to write slang words. “What if the President of the United States read your journal or whoever the readers are?” She currently is doing formal writing about chocolate milk if she is against it to be banned in school.)

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Her way of relaxing.

 

I was inspired to write this journal after I googled the word epitome which was on one of my friend’s comment on my Facebook post. I realized that if I read more, I would probably develop good grammar and increase my vocabulary.

I See The Light

I saw our trash rolling all around the yard, and unto the road. I just woke up and ready to curl up on the couch but when I look out the window I need to get outside and pick the garbage can before it cause an accident on the road. As soon as I got out of the house, it rolled in the middle of the road and almost hit a car. The car stopped on our neighbor’s yard and I think to pick the garbage can. But I got it. 

Instead of going back to the house, I decided to walk around in the yard. I can see so much work that needs to be done. Lots of pruning and cutting to do. More landscaping job awaits. I was heading to the bench to sit but I went the other way due to the muddy ground. Our yard kind of slopes, so all the water runs down after the rain to that farthest part of our 4 acre yard. I see branches laying on the ground, ruined No Trespassing sign from the night before when the wind was howling. I started picking up the branches, cleaning the yard just a little bit or should I say trying to do something to enjoy the sunshine and cool air. It was great excuse for me not to curl up on the couch. As I walk around, still picking branches and piling them up at the back of our house where the fire pit is, I was looking for the crocuses. I see a lot of them looking pale, and the petals are distorted. I see few with petals wide open and looking vibrant. I look at the other part of the yard, and I see tulips leaves peeking out from the ground, looking sharp, bundle of green. And as I drag those branches to the pile, I realize that it takes a lot of sunshine to bloom, to be vibrant, to excel from the ground. It takes a lot of light to see hope that those tulips will soon deliver beautiful flowers of different colors. And those crocuses, their time is today,their moment to shine, to be beautiful, and to show off that this is what light can do to the small creatures on the ground. And those pale crocuses with distorted petals, they are still standing on the ground where I see hope and trust that keep them out from the ground. I still see their purpose, and their existence as it is planned. They are still crocuses same as the rest, equally designed although their time to shine may not be the same. 

I hope I will find joy in every little things I encounter and not forget that God works in mysterioys ways. I won’t understand that all the time. I won’t always have the answers to figure things out but I hope to acknowldege Him in every detail that my eyes can see, my heart can feel, my hand and mind can grasp, and  what my strength can handle. It all comes down to His grace, from picking up garbage, avoiding accident, cleaning up a mess or discovering something simple yet so beautiful, and realizing that there is always hope and that I can trust in His timing. 

God bless you guys and enjoy the light. 

Jump Rope and Terracotta

This kid can break my heart in a good way. She can make it leap for joy as well.

When we went to the playground, she was hoping to see her friend whom we did not plan to have a playdate with. She was hoping that her friend think the same as her that day – to be at the  playground. I guess she just missed her, and she do not know any kids to play with at that moment.

To brighten her day a little bit, I took her to the library. She had fun. She was excited to start reading a new series of book she borrowed.

We had a great day together.

When we got home, we went outside right away. She wanted us to do more things together, but I planned to workout. Jump rope.

She did not insist, instead she went to her swing.

She swung by herself. Slow. Head down. She seemed okay. I kept looking at her. I could hear the squeaky noise from her swing.

I got sad that she is alone. My heart aches.

She came to me while I was working out. She watched. She tried to get involved by cheering on, “Whip it, Mama!”

My jump rope got stuck. I got distracted. She cheered again, “Whip it, Mama”. I got stuck again. I felt guilty that I am so desperate to have my me time. I felt so selfish and just wanna be alone and get it done.

She seemed desperate for my attention…. or

Maybe I misinterpreted her happy gestures. She was cheering, probably to encourage me. I was passive. No words came out from me. I kept going. Unhappy. Cranky.

After getting stuck many times, she noticed my frustration. She decided to leave me alone and went to her favorite spot in the yard – a big pile of square stone that she uses as a table.

I sat next to her as soon as I got done with my workout.

She was smashing these small rocks of different colors until it changed its form to powder. She would mix them up. Terracotta is her favorite color.

When I tried to get up, she asked me to stay beside her.

While watching her, I asked if she would like a baby brother or a baby sister. She answered “No!”. I was just wondering what she thinks. She said, “I want someone equal to my age.”

It is difficult and sad when she wants a playmate. I know she is happy when we spend time together, but some days she likes to have friends around who are “equal” to her age.

It is more harder that it is summertime. Two of her school friends move out-of-state. Her other friends are on vacation.

That night, she tried to call a friend. It was not successful. I think she was fine when she did not get hold of her friend. She grabbed a book to read and stayed in her room.

Today, I asked for her friend’s mom’s number. I made the call. Left a message. The phone rang. It was her friend. Her face lit up. They/we are planning for a play-date soon. Success!

It only took a minute to help her meet her needs – attention, connection and something great to look forward to.

Time is precious.

I regret that I failed to see the simplest desire of her heart, instead I jumped into conclusion that she is too desperate for my attention. Cheering me on while I was doing the Jump Rope was probably her way of trying to connect with me. I could have stop, be flexible, and get her involve by asking her to count how many jump or tricks I can do, or hold/watch the stop watch. I could have let her pretend as my coach. She would have loved it.

Parenting can be tough even on little things like this. All I want is for her to be happy and content.

I understand, I have accepted and it is proven that life is not perfect. It will never be. She understand that too. But I will continue to do the best that I can to be responsive to her needs – attention, connection, something to be thankful for, and something great to look forward to.

I am learning that distraction is okay. It is okay to  Stop. Be Gentle. Listen. Acknowledge. Learn. Keep Loving. Keep Living.

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 With all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love,… Ephesians 4:2

 

 

Ann’s Apron

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Ann is 97 years old woman living in a nursing home where I work. She was sitting on her bedside when I entered her room. It looked like she was getting ready for bed, donned with her long pajama dress. She was reaching her feet towards the floor fixing her socks. I offered to help because I did not want her to slip out of bed and knock her head straight onto the floor.


It was time for her eight o’clock medication.


She is hard in hearing that I had to speak close to her ear. The hearing aid she had on bilaterally seemed like it was not helping. I had to let her know every pill she was taking because she inquires all the time and it’s just the way Ann is; and it’s her right to know. She used her thumb and index finger to pick her pills and slowly put it to her mouth one at a time. I watched closely.  When she safely swallowed her pills, I quickly moved to exit the room, but she pulled my hand.


She is legally blind but she got me. It was probably my shadow or the angle of where she was sitting or where I was standing that she figured where to find my hand. She softly asked me to sit reassuring me that  I won’t get in trouble and she won’t tell anyone that I sat and chat with her. I checked my watch, it was only seven-thirty. I had enough time, besides, two of the residents on my floor were out for a night-time social with other residents.


I sat close to her. My brown hand clasped tightly against her wrinkly 97 years old hand. I’m not describing it in a negative way. It’s just that deep into that wrinkly transparent skin is a fierce spirited petite woman, with a sense of humor and her own view of the world.


I got to know her and laughed out loud for that short period.


I did not ask a lot . I only asked when there were certain words I did not understand. Her wavy and deep voice made it difficult  for me to catch up. She would take a lot of pauses too. She asked few personal questions about me – marriage and parenting. I shared a few.

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She expressed how important faithfulness is in marriage. She detests married men and women running around for a fling.  It ruins everything – life.


She gulped her left over water that I gave with her medication. She would cough a bit.


We were still holding each others hand. It is amazing how life physically changes, I thought, as I look at our hands. My skin is shimmer in brown complexion and someday (not very soon though) will look like hers.  She still can hold her glass steadily. I will be grateful if I am mentally sharp as her when I reach her age.


She continued to talk.


She used to work as a waitress and once served in a wedding. When she was working, she gave full attention to it. She was too busy that when it was time to untie her apron, she was having difficulty. She felt somebody’s hand on her back helping her. She turned around. It was a guy whom she knew. A married man. She was not impressed of his intention – to help untie her apron.  Instead she told him, “Go home, untie your own wife’s apron.” She said, “that act may not be malicious for this generation but it comes in different form and it was one of those.”


I imagined how prudent she was as a young married woman and I thought it was great.

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She used to live with her husband in a small town not close to the city and she had a nephew who would come to visit once in a while. He came one day to personally invite her and her husband for his wedding.  He was intrigued how everyone in  town knows her. She told him that everyone at the bus stop let her get in and get off the bus first; and it’s just the way it was. She did not know the reason behind it but passengers never minded her going in and out of the bus first. 


When her nephew asked for advice about marriage, she told him two things. Save and spend. Saving your hard-earned money for rainy days will keep you out of distress. It gives you peace of mind. Spend what you save when you need it. So simple but right to the point.


Our conversation did not stop right there. Was it really a conversation? We were not exchanging dialogue. I just listened, and it was not a waste of my time at all.


She said, “I can’t believe how demonic humans can be. I heard the news about a little girl who was raped. People who do this crap should go to hell.” She sounded firm and a bit angry.


“If they come to me, I will show them what I can do. I will cut and burn their penises!” This statement cracked me up so hard and excuse me with the language. In life though, that’s how we call it.


That’s Ann, the feisty one.

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Do you think I love my job? I do. I did not even have to talk or share all about me. Allowing my time to be consumed by one of this residents is worth it.  I know, they’re not nice all the time and they can make us feel terrible nurses. We sometimes are not nice when time is so tight or when things get out of hand. We blame it to the full moon.


“Work while your young, make money and hopefully get rich,” she looked at me. She signaled in our hands that it was time for me to go.

“What will you do with the money if you’re rich?”, I asked.


“With my age, well if I am young, I will go to casinos. I will go to Vegas and gamble,” she said.


“Long time ago, I saved all my pay during winter and spend it in Vegas gambling with my lady friend. I never took cash with me. I would go to the bank and get a traveler’s check,” she added. I don’t know what traveler’s check is so I asked and she tried to explain it to me.  I don’t think this generation uses this kind of check. Most of us use debit and credit card.


“Did you win?”, me making conversation this time.


“Oh yeah!…. It was fun. We use nickel, dime, quarters at the casino. I think they don’t do it anymore. They use plastic chips.”


“What did you do with the money you won?”, it was me asking.


“Gamble! What do you think?” I laughed.


She asked me what I will do with the money if I am rich. I told her that I will pay all our debts, as simple as that.


“What will you do with the rest when everything is paid off?”, she insisted.


“What do you think should I do?”, I was hoping to get a great advice from this older woman.


“Gamble!”, she loudly suggested.

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I responded that I don’t do all that stuff not even drinking and smoking.


She suggested to buy myself a lot of nice clothes and the things that I really like and have wanted to have.


I said, “I think, I will spend it traveling. I would love that.” She agreed nodding her head. She seemed impressed with my idea.


“I would like to go to bed,” a voice from another resident in that room. It was Anna.


“I guess, I have to go Ann.  Anna needs help. You take care when you get home. Avoid falling. Always use your walker and have it close to you all the time. It was great talking to you.” She will be leaving the nursing facility soon.


“I hope you’ll be able to do and enjoy a lot of things. If there’s one thing you wanna do, what would it be?”, I asked.


“Gambling!”

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P.S Time flies so fast and sometimes we realize how much we wasted it. It takes only a minute to make someone happy. Give time to be a good company.

Scent And Music Takes Me Back In Time

There are things that take me back in time – images of events, places, and people. It could be from a photo, fashion, a scar (physically or emotionally), somebody’s cooking, gestures, scents or somebody’s situation where probably I was before. It could be a happy or sad memory, or something worth sharing and to laugh about, inspiring or embarrassing.

But scents and music are the two things that quickly trigger a lot of memories in my head.

I can see the image of my mom playing her guitar sitting on a Banig (native sleeping mat) on the floor using an improvised Lamparilla to lit up our living room and help her read her song book. Her favorite hits were Obladi Obladi by The Beatles, Boulevard by Dan Byrd, Changes In My Life by Jed Madela – she played this song hundred times and she even taught me to sing it with action, Paper Roses by Marie Osmond – this is the very first song I heard her play with her guitar and mind you, if I give her a guitar now, she will do this song in a heart beat. I can see mom’s fingers forming the basic chords and her strumming. She played well. Her voice was music in our home.

We did not have electricity growing up. You would know which one was our house because the only household that is not bright at night was ours; and we lived right at the corner of the street. At least, the street light gives off light thru our two windows. My mom had a battery operated radio, she would turn it on for weather forecast and when her favorite soap opera, Matud Nila, is on.

See, this is what music do to me. This reminds me how much I have to be thankful for. We grow up poor. Those were the old days when my Dad pursue college while working in his parent’s rice field, and at the same time, him and mom have the five of us. I used to carry an empty pot to my grandparents’ to be filled with rice and sometimes come home still empty. I remember my mom would tell me not to swing the aluminum pot when it is empty as I walk home so that our neighbors would not know that we don’t have rice for dinner. The lid would come off down to the unpaved road and would make noise and probably caught our neighbor’s attention.  We would end up eating Saba  (Plantain Banana) served with Kalamay (round candy that taste like molasses) to make it taste better.

When I was a baker at Dunkin Donuts, the smell of Sour Cream Donut reminds me of my mom’s deep-fried donut. It brings me back to those memories where I had to crack the Bagol (coconut shell), pile it up in a certain way to start a fire in our Sug-angan (cooking pit). My mother did not know how to cook until when my father left to work overseas. She leaped for joy the first time she cooked Pancit (rice noodles). She was so proud of herself. When we had a Carenderia (local eatery), I was her helper in the kitchen. I was 12 years old and we would wake up at 4 o’clock in the morning and walk from our house to the eatery. We had to wake up that early so Mother can get fresh meat in the market and we had to cut the freaking meat depending on what recipe she have in mind.  I said freaking meat because I hated cutting 10 to 15 lbs. of meat. Unlike here, the meat are already cut. We would start cooking as early as we can, when we’re done I would go back to sleep with sore muscles in my shoulder, wake up and get ready for school. I got a break from being a cook when I went to college, but when I am home particularly on weekends, I had to help. I have four siblings but she preferred to have me as helper because I know how to cook. Growing up, my chore in the house was more in the kitchen that includes cleaning, washing the dishes and cooking our meal. While my sister was with the laundry and ironing and cleaning the living room.

During my Dad’s vacation, we would cook together too. We would listen to music and play guessing game. We would guess of who the artist is from the song we were listening. Up to this day, I can see my Dad and I in that old “dirty kitchen” (extra kitchen outside) cooking together and competing to that game. He love to lay down, shirtless, on our concrete floor as he listens to his loud music. The red concrete floor was a good spot for us inside the house when it is too hot out. When the temperature “goes down” especially in the afternoon, we would ride a moped (motorbike).

Music has been part of me growing up. Dad got me a keyboard but I was not good at it. Maybe we live too far from the city where I could have gone for a piano lesson. But I love playing the guitar (I still do). I really did not care much about going out with friends in the weekend. As kids, plus I am a girl, I should be learning to do chores in the house according to my parents. The break I could get was playing the guitar, sing-a-long with a minus one tape and pretend I am a song writer. I did join a singing competition once where I forgot the lyrics and heard the crowd oohed. It was embarrassing. It was nuts.

I have a lot to write. I do have sad memories too, but I prefer the good ones. Something that makes me smile.

And by the way, when I smell the Christian Dior Poison Perfume (aInay Nenita Jan 2014 present my mom used to get when my Dad would come home from overseas), it reminds me of my mom and I at the Pawnshop lending her piece of jewelry when money is short, and we would ride the public bus going home with lots of food for my brothers and sister, and I would tell her, “Nanay , you smell like an angel.”