Friday, February 17, 2017

Good Night Papa Bear Part II

**Photo by Brian Chism**


When I was a little girl, my dad and I spent many summer days at Silver Strand Beach. He packed sandwiches and chips for us in a blue backpack and I brought my little pail and shovel in a little bag. It was us versus the ocean. I didn't realize until I was older that my love for the water comes from him. Landscapes and beautiful views connect us because we share a love of reveling in nature's greatness. On top of mountains overlooking valleys, the oranges and blues colliding in a sunset or gigantic trees that teach us patience and respect - all of those things are inside of me because of him. 

So when Brian and I ended up at Pismo Beach for my birthday weekend (where you can actually drive onto the sand with your car which still blows me away) I found comfort in the beauty of the ocean. I thought of my dad and moments with nature that we shared throughout our life together. I felt at peace knowing I wouldn't hear his birthday wish because somewhere in the rolling green hills, the ebb and flow of the ocean, the giant rocks of Morro Bay or in the love that my husband showered upon me - his spirit resonated within my soul. 

I was one with the ocean. One with him. 

The folder with my name on it that I found in my dad's room (Good Night Papa Bear Part I) after he passed was extremely important. Inside were the lyrics to two songs I wrote and most importantly, the collection of thoughts or journal entries that I made when my grandfather passed away in 2006. After my mom told me what happened with my grandfather, I called my dad to let him know. He was upset, got choked up and had to call me back. When we spoke again I was unsure whether or not I should go to the funeral because of work. My uncle and my mom planned to drive to Missouri so I knew it would take a couple of days to get there and back. 

My dad didn't hesitate to emphasize that this was a no-brainer. I had to be there and family was more important than work. Of course, now that I look back I hate to think that I could have almost let work get in the way of one of the most important experiences of my life but we are all young and naive at times in our lives. Sometimes, all we need are the words of the wise to show us the way. 

I can't remember if we left during the day or at night. I do know that the changing terrains, the changing skies, Radiohead's The Tourist on repeat and the purpose of our trip inspired me to write down almost every thought that came into my head. Watching my mother very closely, I realized that I was there...for her...a daughter and a son from the west driving east to say goodbye to their father. Here are a few excerpts from my journal during that trip:


May 17 - 22, 2006

The wheels are turning...he brought us here...my grandpa...the bridge...the link between sunrise and sunset...the great tree in the forest. The tie between hermits. The creator of families. 

We are all humans first, people second. 
Come to me humble and I shall welcome you with kindness. 
Receive me with hostility and we shall dance with swords.

The light is the perfect light to leave against. It is warm and golden.

Everyone deals with pain differently. Although I am a sensitive creature, I cannot run. I prefer to face pain -- let it hit me like a train and the scattered pieces take form. Let it come and fly over me -- an eagle searching for the unknown.

The world I see right now is a blue that holds so much sadness. It is the calm after the storm...though not peaceful. Her face is one of thought, contemplation and reflection. My soul burns every time a tear drops from her eyes -- to live is to share her pain. I am here as a witness..another tree in the forest swaying to a familiar tune. Another set of eyes who appear at the scene observing, watching and remembering. My hand is a cloth for her to use through this unexpected and unexplainable circus. We are all players - all clowns hiding behind human faces. All hurting beneath concealed wounds. 
All soldiers in this battle of life - ill-equipped and unprepared. 

Looking through old pictures, just like my mom did as a girl, I've always felt odd. Like a crayon left outside the box. 
An alien among aliens. An anomaly. That is why it is vital for me to stand by her side. 
To be omnipresent in all she does and all I do...for us. 
Our story will always be one of enlightenment, tribulation, acknowledgement and most importantly love

(Somewhere in New Mexico) The sky is afire. My heart is restless. The mountains stare at me waiting for my breath. 
I belong there with my hands reaching for the sky beckoning the sun's kisses. 
The setting sun reminds me of the patience night holds for day. Darkness waits quietly for its turn. 
We are those rocks settled next to each other - linked by centuries, ages, eons, forever one with the earth's birth. 



Reading these words in my dad's room, time stopped. Finding comfort in my own words was surreal. Then knowing that he found comfort in them and left them there for me invokes a feeling in my chest that I can't truly express in words. Coping with the death of your father through the words you wrote to cope with the death of your grandfather. If you know my dad, then you know that anything he reads, prints out or has lying around is of the utmost importance to him. He was very meticulous about articles, books or any piece of information he found useful. 

When my dad passed away, a daughter and her mom from the west traveled east to say goodbye. With the weight of the world on our shoulders, we did not hesitate to take the soonest flight we could find to be there. There was nothing that would stop me from being with him. 

Daddy, if you can read this and hear my voice, here are a few excerpts from my journal during our trip:

Dec/Jan 2017

En route...LAX...with mom...is this a nightmare?

 The first Christmas I don't make the phone call. The fact that I can't access your voice right away unnerves me. Then I see the ocean and it calms me. Reminds me that where there is beauty - a beautiful landscape, there's our love. 
We both share a love of nature's magnificence and now that you are uncaged, unleashed, infinite - 
you're very much a part of that magnificence. 

Summarizing all of those things I couldn't do is like saying I couldn't save you. And the truth is no one could. I wish to God I could have but no one could. Even those who say they could - being saved is a two-way street when someone elects to be saved. I don't know if my presence would have made it easier or harder. Because I would have never wanted to let you go. I would have probably kept you lingering on in misery and pain and that would have been selfish of me and suffering for you.

Better your lion spirit break free with a force stronger than anything on this earth.
Better your lungs expand to hold an infinite supply of breath and ease.
Better you smile in the heaven's golden parachutes and watch your three kids come together to send you off.
Better you free than caged.
Better you infinite than mortal.

Your birthday was yesterday. I spoke with my mom, Naje, Josie, Rashied and Brian and felt some peace during the day. Then towards the night, the sadness set in again. I miss you. I miss knowing you were there. 
Like a light beacon on another plane that I knew could always reel me in. And now nothing. Silence. 
I know that's not completely true as all I need to do is use my heart and mind to feel you and remember. 
But I can't hear your voice and that hurts.

The solace is that your spirit was so strong. Your stubbornness is probably what kept you alive. What kept you going. 
Your strong spirit is what I felt inside your room...inside your house...inside the memories. I miss you so much Daddy. 
I can't even convey the depth of my longing. Especially the first day you left and I begged you to come back. 
I am looking for so many signs. I see them but then sometimes I slip into despair. Time, I know will makes things simpler and easier as I adjust my life to live without you physically in it. I must find a way to live with you spiritually in it. 

Going through our text messages and missing my text buddy. 
Your signature luvurdad which I actually found really neat and creative. 

I just listened to your voicemail greeting again. 

I hope you are laughing, smiling and waiting for us...
You are the oldest so you'll have to show us the ropes when we exit this play. 
When I am old and ready, I will call for you and you will help me adjust to the after life. 
You will give me an hour lecture on flying and soaring the heavens and 
there we will reside in the sunset...in the sky. 

And now that you are one with the light I wonder if you'll be my guardian angel. 

I think you are...I know you'll want to protect and shield. 

After all, you are and always will be my father. 

**My mom and my grandfather**


**Me and my Papa Bear - 5.1.11**




  


Thursday, January 5, 2017

Good Night Papa Bear Part I


This isn't a post I wanted to write. I don't think anyone wants to write about the loss of a parent. However, since my dad loved my blog, I am posting this in his honor.

My dad passed away on Tuesday morning, December 20. It is a day I will never forget. He was sick for a couple of years but we didn't think it was going to happen as abruptly as it did. As his wife told us, one minute he was up and about and the next he was down and gone.

He lived in Florida. My mom and I flew there to join his wife, my brothers and family to say goodbye. When I entered his house, I could smell him. I could feel his energy and I could sense his presence. I had a hard time being in his room more than anything--even more than the service we had. Like a lost little puppy, I wandered around his place looking for anything that would pertain to me - whether it was a picture, a note, or a letter. When you don't live with your parents or have parents who have separated or remarried, there is that part of you that wonders how they fit you into their new home life. 

I knew my dad loved me. There is no question of that. I know he knew I loved him too. In every conversation we had and every text message, as stern as he was, he never hesitated to let me know that he loved me and I always made sure he knew too. The distance is what was hard. Me living in California and him in Florida. We didn't get to see each other as much as we would have liked to over the years. 

So back to the lost little puppy looking for signs around my dad's place - I found hints here and there - a picture on his desk of me, my brothers and a good friend's grandson when we were little in a frame. The lion stuffed animal I gave him that has a tie that says "I Love My Dad" was also on his desk. The lion has relocated to my purse so he can accompany me on all of my adventures and so I can also hug and kiss him when I think of my papa bear. 

My CD was in his player and he had this very special card I got him next to the stereo. Every year, I always went out of my way to find the perfect Father's Day, Christmas and Birthday card (Dec 28) for my dad. Very rarely did the cards have the right words but usually I got blank cards depicting nature or something quirky and interesting that I knew he would appreciate. The special card that I found was a black and white card with a black cat sitting in bed reading a book and next to him was another book titled "Le chat et nous". I wrote to my dad that he was that cool cat because he read profusely and spoke French. Finding that card touched my heart immensely. 

My mom, who also came, found things just for her. My brothers, found things pertaining to each of them too. My mom says my dad left things out so we could find them. She was right. I later found a folder with my name on it which I will get into in the Part II of this post. 

The one thing I wanted most wasn't there and that was just to kiss his cheek one last time. Or to feel his hands - which were soft in places and hard in others. His crooked pinky from an injury he never went to the doctor for. His furrowed brows which could convey more emotion than the words he spoke (which is saying a lot because my dad could TALK) - I wish I could touch them. His soft black hair and crooked mouth always decorated with a mustache. Hearing him call the nickname he gave me "Boo Bear" or sometimes "Boo Boo" or even hearing myself say "Daddy" and have him answer. 

Yes, even his stubbornness, I'll miss and the excessive talking and always thinking he knows more than everyone else or an unparalleled amount more than his kids. Yes, I'll miss that too because to be my father is to be all of those things - whether good or bad, happy or sad, stubborn or yielding - all of his characteristics that make him who he was and what he meant to me. 

I would never be who I am today without him and I will never be the same without him. 

Monday, October 31, 2016

Friday, September 23, 2016

Autumn Is Here




Autumn is here and for me that means more sunset chases.

It's reflecting on the previous months, the upcoming holidays and the new year ahead.

It's candlelit movie nights and dinners and hearing the wind chase leaves into the air.

It's wrapping up projects and slowing down.

It's sitting under a tree at the park and getting lost in a book.

There's renewal in the shorter days because daylight is precious.

It's shedding this year's weight and preparing for the opportunity to begin the next year free.



**photo by Brian Chism**











Friday, July 22, 2016

What To Say?

The up and downs of the world have paralleled ups and downs in my life. Or maybe the ups and downs of the world are the same in my life. I have had things to say but I haven't wanted to say them. The endless cycle of police brutality, death, terrorists attacks, the war of the left and right have left me wanting to shut it off. To shut it away.

I have asked those who came before me many times if things are worse now then they were then and they say that they're not, it's the access and the frequency of the information that makes it seem worse. These things were always going on, my mother says, it's just that now we're seeing them everyday and they're right in our face.

Right in my face makes it worse for me. To escape means to disconnect, to turn off, to delete, to log off. There are so many beautiful aspects of the internet that are positive - reading others writing and blogs, discovering new recipes, getting lost on Wikipedia, learning how to do something on YouTube, watching my family and friends' little ones grow up, take their first steps, learn to speak, or friends getting engaged, wedding pictures, hopes, dreams, connecting, the future...

But the death, the fighting, the disagreements, the arguing, the left, the right, the terrorism, the bombs, the trolling, the disrespect, the bloodshed, the injustice, the murdering, the violence, the bullying, the racism, the intolerance, the disregard for human life, the apathy, the money-driven machines competing to be first to share the heartbreak to the public, the inequality and division on repeat, again and again, click, repeat, post...click, watch, post, repeat...

Is too much.

I will never lose faith in humanity even though my faith in people has diminished.  I know there's a light and I understand what is precious and how moments with those you love and cherish are the colors that decorate this book of life.

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Unproductive or Productive Saturday?

All morning I've been caught up with blog tweaking. Now that it's 3:34 pm, I'm wondering how I can turn this Saturday into a productive one. I've got laundry, cooking, dishes to do and somehow feel like the day is already over. On the Saturdays when I'm able to get that stuff done, I feel like my blog and writing in general is neglected. How do you manage art and responsibilities? How does one balance writing, letting time pass and then engaging in a mindless task like cleaning the house? 

Inquiring minds need to know.

I guess I'll start with the dishes and see where that takes me...

Saturday, May 14, 2016

Vegas




We celebrated our five-year anniversary in Las Vegas like we promised we would. My mom and our good friends Tony and Cherry joined us for a couple of days and we had so much fun. I got stuck at the Roulette table multiple times and found a slot machine with some serious bonuses that kept me occupied. We ate some delicious food and even got to watch our first show, The Beatles Love by Cirque du Soleil, courtesy of Brian's good friend.


We retraced our steps to the Flamingo chapel where we got married and even had time to explore a few places outside of the strip. It was nice to get away and to remember the cherished memories that our wedding in Las Vegas five years evoked.



The riddle of it all is that while I feel like I have changed over these past five years, who I am truly inside will always remain the same. And my love for him, although it multiples exponentially each and every day, will always be unchanged, unmoved and unwavering. 
Cheers to love!




Friday, January 22, 2016

Happy New Year!


Yes, it happened. We finally went ice skating during the holidays. Yes, I railed it for the first couple of times around the rink and then I saw my mom zip by me and got enough courage to tread without a safety net. Brian was so great at skating, he whipped and zipped by everyone and of course, came up behind me to scare me a couple of times. Stan played it safe and hung out by the rail but eventually he ventured out into brave territory and danced a little bit.

(My mom's so cute!)


When the burning in our legs finally slowed us down, we called it a night. I had a blast and it really made my Christmas holiday feel like the holidays.

Now it's January and everything is fresh and new. Resolutions are booming and people feel like time has slowed down again. I, for some reason, feel like it's still going by so fast so I am trying to make each day count. My resolutions aren't just for January, they're for the whole year.

Happy New Year My Fellow Aliens!

Friday, December 11, 2015

Hiatus



I'm on a Facebook and Instagram hiatus for the month of December. This is something I did last year and I found myself really liking the break from the influx that is social networking. I recognize blogging can be seen as a form of social networking but there isn't that influx of information coming at you at lightning speed. It takes time to actually sit there and read a blog. There's a certain pause that comes with commenting on a post. It's not just a quick "Like" which really doesn't say much of anything except give us instant gratification.

For some reason, I've found myself wanted to "unplug" more often. I've been longing to open up a new book (or an old one I've yet to finish) on the patio. As you can see in the photo above, we need to do some serious raking however, I must say, my cactus is growing rather nicely. There's even a little one making it's way through the pot.

With "unplugging" comes spending time with Brian, family and friends. We have some changes coming later next year which I am not ready to divulge on this platform yet so this holiday season will be celebrated to the utmost.

Our new favorite game is Reverse Charades. It is soooo fun and freakin hilarious. I cannot wait to play it again. Instead of one person acting out a clue silently, one person guesses while the other players act out the clue. When you're the one guessing, you have no idea who to watch.

We're going to make the effort to go ice skating this year. We wanted to go last year but got sick the night of Christmas, ugh. I haven't gone in years and wasn't very good at it. I don't care though, I'll be that one laughing loudly along the rails making slow circles and trying to get up the courage to skate a couple of feet without touching anything. Of course, Brian will be the pro since he played hockey growing up. It'll be neat to see him skate and trying to get me off the rails!

I'm not sure if I'll write another post before the new year so in case I don't - I hope all of you have a beautiful holiday season and a memorable New Year. 2016 Baby! 

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

The Show Rocked!

Shout out to Sandra Cox for inquiring about how the show went. You guys really touched my heart with your well wishes. The show was definitely a success. It was sort of a trial to see if we could perform without a whole band and we pulled it off. I sang and played keys and Brian played guitar and bass to the tracks from the album. Our lovely friends held the show in their backyard and I think it was the first time I ever played outside. It was dark so the pictures didn't come out as bright as we wanted but here's one that Brian managed to get:


Our friend Jonny also performed an acoustic set and watching him perform made me appreciate the talents and gifts my friends and family have. Performing with Brian was such a highlight. Of course, we're married so we share our lives together but being able to share art and collaborate creatively is truly a wonderful thing. My mom, who is a dynamic singer and performer was there also. Seeing her with her camera phone in the crowd made my heart warm when I was on stage. So...I will definitely be looking to book some more shows at the beginning of next year. Things usually slow down for the holiday season and I will be slowing down too.


I had so much fun with this look. My mom helped me with the hair and the lovely @Jocyjayyy did my makeup.


Isn't she lovely? I love my mom. This outfit pic below came out too dark but I had to post it anyway because of how much fun it was to rock out, lol.


And then of course, after the hair comes off, the eyelashes come off, the contacts are out, the pajamas are on and it's time to wash my face and go back to being my introverted self and get some much needed sleep...