Tag: Texas

The Origins Tour

I spent a few days in the San Antonio area to visit an ailing aunt and celebrate the 84th birthday of my uncle. More than that, I spent time with my parents. They had asked me to help them…help them make arrangements for the hotel and drive them around, but in the end, they are the ones that helped me.

I have not been to Texas and to see family for over twenty-five years. I have lost uncles and aunts in these years…cousins, too. Work, finances and even a little of what I would call disconnect, contributed to my not making any effort to travel back to the state where my relatives live. None of that was relevant, as I found out in my journey back.

My first impression upon visiting the area in Lytle, Texas, where we stayed, is that I have not seen so many brown faces since I left California to move to North Carolina. Everyone who waited on me in the HEB stores or even Starbucks was brown, like me. It was heartening in a way I can’t completely articulate, but nonetheless, I was inspired at all the shades of brown Hispanics are. Seeing the Spanish influence in the names of the streets and restaurants reminded me again of California and how strong the Spanish legacy is in this state, as in California.

My cousins laughed at me, because I kept calling the wild bluebonnets, bluebells. That was the other thing, the wild flowers were in full bloom, filling meadows, bordering the highways and roads, and dressing up the orchards of mesquite trees. I kept teasing my mom, that I was going to get her pillow and sit her in the middle of the blue bonnets and take a picture.

I will write more and post pictures in future posts. The emotions are still pretty strong, not just the visit, the reunion with my cousins and seeing the elders, but the significance of traveling with my parents, the contrast of traveling when you are a kid versus when you are an adult, and the bittersweet aspect of the journey of life. They say you can never go home again, but I know you can get pretty close to it.

Mom in the Mirror

“Mom in the Mirror”

My mom is from Pleasanton, Texas, a small town south of San Antonio, Texas.  She is one of five sisters and four brothers.  I remember as a child, when we would visit my grandparents, I would go out to the chicken coop with my grandma and get eggs.  The roads leading from the main drag in Pleasanton to their house were dirt for the longest time and my grandparents did not have indoor plumbing until I was a teenager.   My brother and I still talk about that outhouse and how we didn’t want to go out there in the evening, but didn’t want our cousins teasing us that we were afraid to go out there. Another vivid memory, was in the late sixties when we returned from the Philippines, where my Dad was stationed, my mom’s family butchered a pig in the backyard of my grandparents house.  I don’t know why this didn’t seem out of the ordinary…it just wasn’t, it was the way of our family.  

My mom had been a Navy wife during the 50’s when women’s lib had not even hit the news.  But, even as she was a traditional wife, at home mom and homemaker, she took on the responsibility of paying all the bills and handling the household, the car and my brother and I, while my dad was at sea for 10 months at a time.  She drove us from San Diego to my aunt’s apartment in San Francisco in the early sixties so we could visit and go to Candlestick Park to see the Giants play.  My Tia Jane worked for the front office back in those days and we were a baseball family.  My memory of this visit was driving at night through China Town and visiting the Golden Gate Park…not the revered Candlestick Park.

My mom gained confidence from these responsibilities and experiences when my Dad was on deployment and it translated to me.  As a young wife and later, a single mom, I had to rely on this confidence to thrive in a workforce that was not tolerant of single moms.  I always thought I was so unlike her, she is petite, cool and collected…I am plus sized, emotional and demonstrative…but as I got older and had kids, I learned we had more in common than I realized…she instilled in me the value of education, whether formal or self-taught; to pay attention to the world around you, appreciate sports and politics and find a faith that speaks to you.  She dresses, to this day, impeccably, and only said to me, “always look your best, because you never who you are going to run into…” and that echoes in my ear when I have looked less than my best when running into one of the kid’s teachers or the principal of their school.  Now, my kids tease me because I am always “overdressed”…but I am old school and make no apologies…it is what it is.

Bottom line is that my mom is my mom, and she is my also my best friend.  She has been through a lot this year worried about me being laid off, about my brother working too hard, her struggle with her own health issues and tragically, losing her younger brother, my Tio Johnny.  Through it all, she has dealt with it as best anyone can…but my mom is strong and will not let you see her sweat.  My mom’s living legacy to me, my children and their children, is that family is everything…through the good, the bad and the ugly, family first…