Something different

I survived Thanksgiving without Dad.  

Al & I spent the earlier part of Thanksgiving Day with the Torres tribe.  I was so anxious about just getting through the holiday . . . what with Mom abroad and my Dad not physically with us.  I was a little numb when we entered my sister- and brother-in-law's home. We were a little late with our contributions of salmon carpaccio and my usual busy salad.  And I was a little overwhelmed during our Thanksgiving prayer before the lunch celebration.  I rushed off to the bathroom and pulled myself together.  I survived.  With the help of three glasses of sangria.

Al & I were happy to retreat to Seaview in Galloway, NJ for a few days.  It was fun to stay where actress Grace Kelly had her sweet 16 and engagement party.  We've now returned well rested. The smell of a wood-burning fireplace made for a nice change of scenery.  It was peaceful, relaxing and different from what we've done the past few years.  Usually we're having Thanksgiving lunch with the Torres clan then rushing off to Jersey City or Stamford for Thanksgiving dinner with my side of the family. Only this year, Dad's not around . . . so it really didn't make sense to have to rush off anywhere. We needed to do something different.  Not a day goes by that I don't think about my Dad.   

I am so grateful to have spoken to some of my parents' friends over the holiday weekend.  Tito Vic called, and his thoughtfulness warmed my heart so.  It was great to hear Tito Willy's voice.  He'll be traveling to Narvacan over the winter season and asked how long Mom would be in the Philippines.  I also spoke with Uncle Rey and Auntie Cora in Chicago -- my parents' best friends who matched them together.  I'd mentioned that Al & I were spending some time near Atlantic City, and Uncle Rey shared that he & Dad used to borrow their friends' car and head down to Atlantic City with their ladies (Auntie Cora & Mom), all before Atlantic City was the casino central it is today.  No boardwalk, just open air.  When Auntie Cora got on the phone, she cried.  She always tries so hard to hold back her tears, never successfully.  She, Uncle Rey and Dad have been close friends since high school. 

It's different . . . without Dad. 


Prayerful thanksgiving

Great Spirit, 
May Your grace provide our  families courage to live and act with integrity.
May Your strength nourish our physical, emotional 
and professional well-beings.
May Your light always lead us to open our hearts to love & peace. 
Thank You, Great Spirit, for your wonderful gifts of simple abundance.  
Shanti, shanti, shanti.


Her heart's journey

Mom left on a 10.30pm flight for the Philippines last night. The past week has been wrought with a combination of anxiety, forgiveness and thanksgiving. Mom's main purpose for her two-month retreat to the Philippines is to work through the mess of paperwork around Michael's U.S. citizenship.  It's a complicated situation.  So complicated I refuse to relive my last memory of the Philippines (2003).  The next time Al & I go to the Philippines, it will be to get our child.  And it will be a wonderful memory - for both of us. 

While I was at Mom's yesterday, I came upon one of Dad's chaplets and read, 'Prayer is thanksgiving.'  In my daily meditation, I've tried to mindfully focus on prayer.  I pray that once Mom has cleared up Michael's paperwork, she can relax and enjoy her retreat.  I pray that on this trip, Mom's heart experiences more ease and less guilt about Dad's dying.  I pray that time and memories continue to comfort our family as we continue to grieve with graceful thanksgiving. 

I've been anticipating Dad's 100th day death anniversary - Sunday, December 7. Some Buddhists believe that spirits are reborn then. 
I miss my Dad.


Bridge-Way Diner

The  Booth
your wooden leather lap
held me
numb as i thought,
my dad will be gone soon
every time i sit in your home
i think about,
i knew -
my dad would pass 

So now every time we have a diner craving and head to Bridge-Way, it's a bittersweet experience.  I remember having my birthday brunch there.  Dad was in the hospital.  A few trips later, I remember stopping in for breakfast somewhere between our back and forth between Parlin and Jersey City.  We went to Bridge-Way waiting for Dad to die. And we went there after he passed.  My body frozen in that booth. My emotions sit outside of myself, next to me in the booth.  In that diner some comfort, some familiarity and great sadness accompany my brokenhearted reality of Dad's death. 


Driving on and on

same winding road
curves along liberty state park
car's tires share the pavement's grooves
mark their path
on my face with tears --
same memories of dad
wash across my heart
wishes to stop grieving


Weekend sitting

This past weekend, we were blessed to sit with our nephew/godson, Jasper.  No easy task, taking care of a 7-month-old, but definitely fun.  It was such a treat to give his folks a break and actually enjoy hanging with him.  Currently Jasper's trademark move is flapping his hands & legs while he arches his back on the mat, looking like a fish out of water!  My arms still ache from rocking him for his naps.  I'm realizing, while Al & I will be older parents one day, we've had the chance to witness all kinds of parenting and experience varied schools of thought. Definitely to our advantage as we'll have an entire smorgasbord of techniques from which to select.  Weekend's affirmation? We're pretty sure that we still want kids.  Poop & all!  

We made the 11.30am service at St. Bernadette's on Sunday.  I seem to always get overwhelmed towards the end of the Mass.  It's usually the music. Or seeing all of the families, including the kids. Probably a combination.  It's always some song about Father in Heaven.  I know they're referring to God.   But I can't help thinking that my Dad's watching from there too.   

for Jasper
a fish out of water - swish!
mouthing perfect o's
jasper swims in air

Mom's departure
Mom leaves for her two-month retreat to the Philippines on Monday, November 24.  Her primary objective is to take care of Manong Michael's paperwork, though she will have to work out some financial matters with my Dad's side of the family.  I'm anxious, but am confident that Mom can handle anything that comes her way.  Hopefully she will take time for herself too, including a Cadelina cousin's family wedding in San Mateo.

Mom initiated a heart-to-heart talk with me, asking me to rid my heart of any negative energy I have towards my Dad's side of the family (in the Philippines) before Christmas.  A challenge for me, given all the drama around financial concerns and familial expectations.  I encouraged my Mom to do the same of my Dad's Knights of Columbus friends, whom she bumps into at church.  The woes that Life presents us . . .   

Praying for Mom's peaceful heart as she prepares for her journey, one that will be her memory's milestone. With Dad as her heart's companion. 



We were honored to have been invited to my parents' friends' -- Tita Rebecca & Tito Nanding's -- retirement party at The Liberty House (Jersey City).  Mom couldn't bring herself to attend.  But I was happy to see all of our old family friends, many of whom were at Dad's service and our wedding too.  They all expressed their concern and asked how Mom was doing.  And those who hadn't been able to make the service shared their loving wishes.  I suppose Mom & I are grieving differently.  While she needs to be alone and find her way back into Life on her own timeframe, I want to surround myself with all those who knew my Dad, and I want to share in their memories of him.  

I chatted a bit with all of them.  When I sat with the Domingos, Tita Maring grabbed my hand and said, I miss your dad.  He would be out there dancing right now.  I responded, I miss him too.  I needed to hear that.  It was good to hear that.  I'm glad we went.   
I was a little overwhelmed at the 10am church service.  During Communion, the children's choir sang Where My Father Is, or was it In My Father's House?  In any case, while the song was about God and heaven, I could only think about my Dad somewhere in Eternity. Yesterday afternoon while I meditated, I had passing visions of my Dad on my wedding day which brought me to tears, of course. During our father-daughter dance, I was ferklempt since he'd just had two stents put in the April before, and all I could think was, Wow, he's here . . . we're here. And Dad said,  Don't cry. As difficult as it was to accept -- when Dad made his decision to stop all treatment, a good friend shared with me, Your Dad got to see you get married.    

A mindful walk
We had a chance to catch up with one of my old bosses from GCWW who lives in Bayhead.  Joan treated us to a lovely lunch at Jack's Wharfside in Point Pleasant.  Seeing Joan outside of what used to be work is a welcome outing.  She's like a family aunt you don't mind visiting because she spoils you so much and is so excited to hear all about you and your life.  Later we headed shoreside to do some light fishing. Well, Al fished . . . and I went on a mindful walk along Spring Lake's boardwalk.  A mindful walk does much for the soul.    

Afterwards, we stopped by Freehold to visit with Wendy, Ed & the kids. I'm glad that they didn't mind us imposing on their Sunday night family time especially since they're so busy what with the kids' schedules. It was comforting to just sit & catch up with them. I am truly blessed to have lucked out with wonderful brothers- and sisters-in law.  

Makes me appreciate all that is behind 'ohana / pamilya.


What a wonderful world

How amazing is it for my hapa (mixed race) nieces & nephews as well as my close friends and their multiracial/multicultural families to witness such a heartwarming milestone in our life's and the United States' history.  A photo is worth so many words and yet, nothing needs to be spoken of such greatness.  

I've been obsessive, trying to read all I can about President-Elect Barack Obama and the influential women in his life.  Here are some glimpses into this inspiring man's life:

I didn't cry on Election Night.  I was just in awe.  But I've cried reading about his life, his story, and the stories of his mother and grandmother.  I never thought that I would see -- in my lifetime -- that this nation is ready for a hapa president.  I am so ecstatic to have been proven wrong!   

A fleeting thought -- As I came of age in my twenties, Dad would encourage me, Date a man of color. Date a Latino, date a Black man before you date a White man.  

Wonder what Dad would say today.  

I welcome the change and look forward to an awesome history in the making.  We could definitely use more of the aloha spirit.  

A ala mai laulea honua. 
Arise, a peaceful world.


Our Lady of Mercy - All Souls Day service

We attended the noon service at OLM today.  It was a special Mass for all those who have passed since last year's All Souls Day. Each person's name and date of death was written on a placard and highlighted with a votive candle. A total of 60 parishoners were honored.  At home, Mom even left a small plate of food out by Dad's urn.  So Buddhist of her, said Tyne. The service was overwhelming as I saw some of Dad & Mom's old barkada and mine too.  

We were blessed to spend some time this weekend with old family friends. We drove up to Stamford (CT) late yesterday afternoon to bid farewell to Missy & Roj, who will be moving from CT to OH.  A wonderful thank you to Tita Reggie & Tito Romy who invited us to their daughter's & son-in-law's despedida festivities!  And this afternoon, we enjoyed visiting with a good friend, Tyne, from CA. She attended Mass with us and then, we reminisced about living in downtown Jersey City -- eventually making it to a last call for dessert at Isabella's by 7th Street.

Always heartwarming to be with old friends.  Just like that downy soft favorite fleece throw that keeps me warm on a cold fall weekend morning.