Tag Archives: family

You Before Me

16 May

I know, I know, you think I got that wrong and it’s Me Before You, but, I am not wrong.

Let me explain: a few days ago Patrick, my son and I  were walking the dog and were talking about what should I do now that he is done with college. I told him I feel like all that rush, all that forward moving we went through for the past 12 years of public education came to a halt. Ever since I gave birth to him I’ve been focusing on him, making him my # 1 priority. His education, his wellbeing, his manners, his foundation, all of that has been my work, my goal nothing and no one could ever stop me from reaching it. I had a path and each step brought me closer and closer to the finish line, which we crossed together the minute he held his diploma.

I kept telling him that now he is done with school and I am done worrying (or so I keep telling myself). He is on his path and I am on mine. He will soon start working and will continue chasing his dreams while I need to figure out what to do with my life, my focus, my time. What to fill it with, which direction should I go, what to do. (You can call it a crisis, but I won’t, because I don’t want to jinx it and make it sound even more dramatic than it is. But it is dramatic and anyone who went through what I am going now, will tell you it is a life-altering time in any parent’s life whose child/ren finish their education).

I kept talking while he kept listening. (That’s one of the things I love the most when I spent time with Patrick; he is a great listener). Eventually we turned a corner and I finally stopped talking, waiting for him to say something. And he did, saying, “It’s actually quite simple, Mom. You need to go back to you before me. You before you had me. Find that 24 yr. old woman and see what she’d like to do. Focus on her, help her find her dreams.”

I know his words will remain engraved in my mind for a long time, maybe forever (with my brain’s will) and, while I do not want to be 24 yr. old again, I’d like to rekindle with my old self and see what treasures I’ve buried…you before me: where are you?

 

 

Open Letter To My Son–Part 3

27 Apr

Dear Pat,

This is part three to my open letter and last one. The first letter was an overview of your sixteen years as a student, the second one a ride down memory lane starting with elementary school and ending with college, and now this one is about how it all started… the first seed that was planted and how it grew over the years into this steady and strong foundation you begin your next chapter with, your career.

Every parent wants the best for their child/ren. Every parent dreams their kid/s will become incredibly successful, tackle hurdles and reach peaks, do better than they ever did. Have a better life than they ever had.

My dream for you was to finish college. Find a field that would excite you, something to be passionate about, and love getting up every morning for it. Something that would put money in your pocket to live a comfortable life and fulfill whatever dreams you have. Provide you with means to support a family when time comes. For as long as I remember I thought you’d become a … doctor or architect (I know, completely different fields but, that’s how I saw you). Your caring nature, your love of people and the attention to detail in everything you built with lego made me believe that’s where you’ll end up, in the medical field or constructions. How wrong I was!

Sometime in middle school your essay on “Why is putting all your eggs in one basket a bad idea” won an award and there would be some sort of ceremony at school. It was also about the same time you began playing Gaia, the only online game we allowed you to be on (30 minutes a day if you did your chores, remember?). You were making millions and enjoyed buying/selling your goods. Later on, in high school, you took a business class, ending up qualifying for state in D.E.C.A. competition. When time came for you to decide which college to apply for, you wanted W.P. Carey School of Business at Arizona State University.

So, here we are years later with you about to hear the bell ring for the last time. Next week you’ll have final exams. May 11th is the ceremony for your graduation, closing the student chapter of your life. Starting in June you begin working as area manager at Amazon. To map it all out it looks like this:

I don’t think there are enough words to tell you how proud I am of you. How my heart just melts at the sight of you and bursts open looking at who you became. I always knew you have potential and I never doubted you. I have no regrets about what we did while you were in school. How we pushed you to study and to get better grades. How we checked your homework, and how we kept a vigilant eye over your education, your friends and your behavior. Because the results are shown here and now, with you finding your calling.

I have no idea what the future holds or where life will take you. How many roadblocks will be thrown your way. How many struggles you’ll fight. But what I do know is that I have no worries that you will thrive and you will be just fine. Your tool box is filled with everything Dad and I tried to instill in you, morals and values, every tool you’ll need to succeed.

Have a smooth sailing, Patrick!

With never ending love,

Mom

P.S: A memento from our last lunch at Memorial Union, eating taco salad from Qdoba and talking about everything and anything, as we did for the last four years…

 

 

 

 

Open Letter To My Son–Part 2

26 Apr

Dear Pat,

Remember when I took you across Bucharest, on a beautiful September morning, for your first day of school? The bouquets of flowers, the loud kids and their parents, the gray and white building called Liceul Aurel Vlahuta that was your home for 1st and 2nd grade? Remember the wooden bench and the black board, Frau and the twins who became your best friends?

Remember when we moved to the States and the second day after our arrival, Grandma and Aunt Cathy took us to Manitas Elementary School to enroll you in 3rd grade, barely speaking any English? Remember how brave you were every morning, backpack slanted on your shoulder and off you went? Miss Hebert, who could’ve won Teacher of The Year Award, and Miss Calleros who we both hated for a whole year in 5th grade?

Remember when you started middle school at Pueblo, and how much you struggled with math, but thanks to Mrs. Segerson you actually started to like it? Remember the bullies and how we talked every night about how to handle them? Remember how you had a crush on girls I won’t name here, but how we laughed reading Calvin and Hobbes?

Remember starting high school at Corona del Sol, your first day afraid seniors will play pranks on you as they did with all freshmen? Remember the friends you made and the people you avoided? Remember the cafeteria and the disgusting pizza you ate? Remember your first car and your first kiss and your first heartbreak? Remember Miss Glick and her daring to-read-list?

Remember your first day at Arizona State University, our coffee run that morning before first class in W. P Carey International School of Business? Remember my pestering you to stay on top of your homework, asking endless questions and checking your grades? Remember our lunches?

Remember when I told you it will get better, nothing lasts forever and you will get there? Well, dear Patty Cakes, you are there. You are at the end of your student life and about to start your career.

Make the best out of it and don’t let anyone or anything stop you from success. May this new chapter be what you want it to be, nothing more, nothing less!

Love,

Mom

Open Letter To My Son–Part 1

25 Apr

Dear Patrick,

It’s been a long time coming and now that it is so close, emotions and memories run wild like spiffed toreadors chased by a herd of bulls … tumultuous and raw overwhelming my heart.

Sixteen years of homework, studying, successes and failures, tests and grades, friends and bullies, good teachers and not so good ones, semesters and breaks, all coming to an end. Sixteen years of early mornings, sleepovers and drop offs. Sixteen years of classes, projects and subjects, one by one plating a seed of knowledge and another piece of puzzle in the map of your life. Sixteen years of hopes, anxieties, concerns and perseverance, always pushing forward no matter the obstacle, no matter how hard.

Sixteen years since you entered through the doors of public education for the first time, coming to an end on Thursday when the bell will ring for the last time in your life as a student. A chapter will close and another one will start. A door will close and others will open. Through all of it we loved you, taught you to the best of your abilities and saw you become a strong, healthy and responsible individual. Couldn’t been prouder of your achievements!

Thank you for being the kid you were and for the man you became, Pat! Thank you for allowing us to stand by you through all of it, good and bad, and for never giving up, always chasing after your dreams. The key of your future is in your hands now, enjoy the ride!

Love,

Mom and Dad

A delusion called Friendship

1 Oct

Do you ever wonder why—during times of crisis—you react the way you react? Do you ever think that, if faced with some sort of one of those life-altering moments, you know yourself so well that your reaction won’t shock you? Like for instance, a friend tells you they decide to tattoo their forehead / hike Everest / go on Naked & Afraid Show / rob a bank, and when they tell you that, you know exactly how you’ll react to it, but in reality your reaction is quite the opposite, shocking you and your friend, to a point it alters your relationship with him/her. Shock that would make you pause for a surgical, introspective look, not only at yourself, but also at your relationship with that friend. And the deeper you look, the less you like what you see to a point you question not only how well you know yourself but also how well you know (or you thought you know) that friend.

Friends.

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We all have them and we all have heard at least once in our life the saying “you cannot pick your family, but you can (and you should) pick you friends.” We all build relationships based on likes and dislikes, common ground/morals, values, etc., and develop a support system so when we or them—our friends—fall apart, someone is there to catch us/them. We count on each other during good times and bad times, help each other pass whatever obstacle is thrown at us and eventually watch each other waltz through life.

Some friendships are meant to last a lifetime (they’ll be there to call you on your mistakes but still love you). Some are based on certain commonalities but have limitations (you might agree on politics but disagree on religion). And some friendships are there only when its convenient, through their good times and bad times, but fall apart at your first news of “I’m gonna tattoo my forehead/ hike Everest / go on Naked & Afraid Show / rob a bank.”

This past week my world titled, knocking the air from underneath my wings. For two days I dragged my broken wing trying to “float”, doing that surgical and introspective look at myself. I didn’t like what I saw, so I did what I knew best and reached out to my friends, baring my soul and letting them see my bleeding heart in its full tarnished splendor. Some of them gave me a piece of their mind, knocking me over the head, but also telling me—even though I’m stupid—they still love me. Some hugged me and told me they are sorry. And some got up and left the room.

images-1I stared at that door for a while . . .

I know it’s going to take me a while to process what happened, what triggered that to happen and that eventually my problem will have a solution and one way or another, I’ll be okay. I always am, always have, always will. I’m a fighter who, even after finding that I don’t always like the person gawking back at me in that mirror, I take responsibility for my mistakes and try to repair the wrong I’ve done. I always come back up for air, take baby steps toward recovery and eventually I will heal. But I also know that the door you closed behind will forever remain closed so. . . thank you for walking out like that, sparring me a delusion called friendship.

Happy Dog Day!

26 Aug

As a kid I feared dogs and loved cats. I lost count how many times I got in trouble (to be read: butt too tender to sit on) for hiding cats under my bed or feed them milk from my own bowl. Let’s not go there, but go back to dogs because as I grew older, dogs no longer scared me, and I totally swapped camps: dogs rock! 

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I know people love their pets and think of them as family members, so no one would think of me as crazy when I say Bella, my pooch is my daughter, right? She has two birthdays: one when her mommy gave birth  to her–April 22, and one when she became mine–August 8, and we’ve been together ever since, 14 years to be exact. A white fur ball with black button nose and coffee-bean eyes, a goofy personality and stubbornness galore, that’s my Bella, queen of the house, owner of the backyard and our hearts.

I have so many stories about her from the time she was a puppy chewing all shoes left unattended, to playing hide-and-seek, to learning tricks only if rewarded with popcorn, to falling in the pool, to hating being groomed, to eating dirt and the list can go on, but I will stop here. For a while I feared I won’t remember all the things she’d done, worried that once her time was up, time will dust her memories as it does will all our lives. Luckily I found a solution and added her to the “characters list” in my novel A World Apart; for as long as there will be books Bella will live on, not only touching my heart but that of anyone reading my book.

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I don’t think there is possible to love Bella more than I already do nor imagine a world without her, although I know her time with us will eventually come to an end. My biggest consolation is that I gave her a great life, took care of her, protected her, but above all: I loved her. Happy Dog Day, Bella!

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Europe trip–part 3

29 Sep

I guess one can say I took my sweet time in between the posts about my trip, but to be honest, a lot of those memories are still a blur. So I decided to write about the trip when something comes to mind, like right now about how we lost our connection in Munich.

The flight from Bucharest to Munich went better than I expected. Although the flight was only a little over an hour, we spent it talking to a funny group of Texan young adults (in Romania to teach English to Romanian students). I know, right? What are the odds to find yourself halfway across the world, in a plane from Bucharest to Munich and be surrounded by fellow Americans. Comes to show how little our world really is.

Once arrived in Munich, we said goodbye to our newfound friends and off we went to find our gate. We were told by several airport employees to go to terminal 1, not knowing that there’s where our troubles began. After the shuttle buss dropped us, we went through a maze –I’m not kidding–maze of corridors, gates and check points, making our way to gate 17. We still had time for breakfast, stroll through duty free stores until boarding was announced. 

As we waited to be boarded, my eyes fell on the display flickering our flight and I found odd that instead of Lufthansa there was EasyJet airline. Then looked at my boarding ticket and saw that the flight number didn’t match the one on the display, only the departure time and destination.

I’ve rarely felt as if the rug was pulled from underneath my feet, but that’s the best way to describe how I felt.  Never lost a connection in my life. Never thought not one, but several airport employees can be that… well, I really don’t have a name for it, unless I’m willing to call them something bad. For crying out loud: I show you a boarding pass and you send me to a wrong terminal???

We made our way back to terminal 2 as our Lufthansa flight took off. At that time I was livid and sick to my stomach worrying about having to buy new tickets, and losing our train connection from Rome to Verona. Pat kept telling me to breathe deeply and accept the fact that was nothing I could do to change what just happened. Trust me, breathing exercises never helped that much as then. I managed to calm somewhat until, explaining to the Lufthansa rep how we lost our connection she said in an arrogant and dismissive tone, word for word: “That’s the most stupid thing I’ve heard in thirteen years working on this airport. Who here would direct you wrongly?”

With my minds eyes I saw myself reaching over the counter and grabbing a handful of her shirt, saying, “You call me a liar and stupid???”, but instead I said, “Ma’am, as much as your airport is a nice venue, I would rather travel to my destination. Hanging out on an airport is not my kind of fun time.”

Pat stepping on my foot made me pause and take my eyes off the Lufthansa rep, long enough to take yet another deep breath. I should’ve inhaled enough oxygen by now, enough to transform it in smoke puffing out of my ears but boy, I was aching to wrinkle that woman’s starched collar. 

Somehow I managed to be civil. Fifteen minutes and two phone calls later we had brand new tickets that costed us only $105.00 each. If all worked out well, we’d make it to our train connection on time.

Eventually anger and frustration drained out of me, leaving me exhausted. The entire time we waited Pat and I talked and, the more we talked, the deeper in conversation we went. Like to survivors on an island we shared plans, dreams, memories–we talked so much and I have to say, there was nothing that could make me happier than my kid sharing so much of him. There’s a glow in Pat’s eyes when he talks about himself, a glow that makes the blue in his eyes so intense and so alive. 

In looking back I do wonder if all of that happened because he and I had to talk. Not just any talk, but deep talk, the kind of talk that makes one vulnerable but also so, so human. The kind of talk where all masks fall and one’s heart and soul are out there in plain light, without holding back. 

I always considered myself incredibly lucky to have a great relationship with my kid, but for some reason that talk we had waiting for our flight taking us from Munich to Rome, made me realized, my kid is not a kid anymore, but a young man making his way into adulthood, having incredible plans for the future. It also made me realized how much more mature he is now compared to myself at his age, but most importantly that, if I were to go tomorrow, I’m leaving behind a great legacy, a man who I have no doubt will make his way through life in a healthy, solid, clear, strong manner; that whenever life will throw curves and hurdles his way, he has the tools he needs to go through them all. 

When time came to leave, I remember finally buckling my belt on the plane taking us to a brand new adventure. Pat reached over and kissed the top of my head, then interlaced his finger with mine. “Thanks, mom,” he said. “What for?,” I replied. He smiled and pushed his side onto mine. “For listening.”

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