Holiday Reflection

“We were poor but we had love. That’s the one thing that [momma] made sure of.” Loretta Lynn’s lyrics hypnotize me. It is Black Friday and North Texas’ first freeze. I fail to keep up with the conversation over dinner at Babe’s Chicken Dinner House. My senses are on overdrive. The crispy, double fried chicken thigh and buttery mashed potatoes and flashbacks of my past dominate my sensory motherboard. My Past plays in my mind. The Present enjoys dinner with my family which includes my father from Nevada and sister from El Salvador. On this holiday season, my Future affirms my children will not know the plight of a “miner’s wage,” thanks to momma’s hard work.

Holiday Reflection 1

“Momma loved and raised [four] kids on a [seamstress’] pay.” As a child, we never celebrated Thanksgiving. For my brothers and me, it was a break from school. My momma worked and usually only had Thanksgiving Day off. “I seen her fingers bleed, to complain there was no need.” Yes, I recall seeing my mom’s finger bleed through the gauze as she described a sewing needle piercing her thumb. She never complained as she drifts to sleep to start all over tomorrow morning. Spirit plays this moment just minutes after I complain about Wal-Mart’s ridiculous Black Friday crowd. After I make the connection that I should be gracious for this moment, in my mind, “she smiles in mommy’s understanding way.”

“In the summertime we didn’t have shoes to wear but in the wintertime we’d all get a brand new pair.” Christmas was always bitter sweet. To me, this season was bitter because I never had the opportunity to believe in Santa Claus. After a few disappointing Christmases, I was conditioned not to believe in Santa Claus against all earnest attempts of the contrary. Jesus’ birth was sweet because of non-profit organizations such as the Salvation Army and King’s Daughters. God blessed me with loving teachers. My Kindergarten teacher is my hero. She blessed our family with memorable Christmas: shoes, clothes, Christmas Tree, and a toy. I know momma worked hard to pay the bills and maintain our livelihood. Momma’s love prevailed over the poverty. I knew the trailer we lived in was no mansion, but somehow I was fulfilled. I was once a Salvation Army Angel, and I know the Lord blessed me with many Angels throughout my life.

“Well, a lot of things have changed since way back then.” “Yes they have,” I quietly thank God. My wife and I made a life for ourselves. By the grace of God, hard work that I learned from my momma, and education, I am prepared to give my children a life my momma and I always wanted. The glass of Malbec is empty. I pour one more glass and enjoy this humbling holiday reflection as the song continues to play, “and it’s so good to be back home again. Not much left but the floors, nothing lives here anymore, except the memories of a coal miner’s daughter.”


Monday, November 2, 2015

It’s a beautiful day, mid 70’s, sunny. I reach for my sunglasses as I start my commute back home. As I commonly due, I thank the Lord for a productive day at work and a safe trip home. After my prayer, my mind drifts to my mom. “Wow, it’s been almost a month since she has passed.” It does not feel like it, but my iPhone calendar confirms it is November 2, 2015. At a stop light on the corner of Hulen and Bellaire Drive in Fort Worth, the scene of my mom smiling while in the hospital plays in my mind. My eyes wonder to the license plate in front of me XXX-3322. As this moment computes in my mind that I just saw 22 while thinking about mom, my ears simultaneously tune to the radio. Adele’s hauntingly beautiful lyrics, “Hello from the other side” ring through my ears and sends chills up and down my spine. Wow, that was a loud “hello” from mom. Spirit is amazing as tears bubble.

Although I have not channeled my mom since her passing, I feel her presence around me daily. Today, I now surrender to the notion of channeling my mother and give thanks for the signs she leaves me. I feel her when I run Trinity Trail, I feel her when I drive home, I feel her when I am eating, I even feel her at night when I wake up suddenly randomly at 3:33AM. The Lord has blessed me with the ability to hone in on signs and I am relishing in it big time!


Sunday, September 27, 2015

My night’s sleep was interrupted by an early-morning phone call from my brother. “Mom is in the ER,” he said. Those words cause immediate worse-case scenario thoughts as I struggle to open my eyes. By around 8AM that morning, I was in the operating room translating for my mom. “Mom, you need to sign these forms to have the surgery to correct the perforations in your stomach,” I translated. Indeed, the Stage IV Gastrointestinal cancer reared its ugly head after being dormant for the last two years. The cancer had eaten the walls in mom’s stomach. After a few hours in surgery, the General Doctor’s reports were very optimistic. Mom was recovering in ICU Room #22.

Room #22, “That’s funny,” I thought. “Why am I seeing #22, or #222 a lot lately?” As I waited for her to recover, the number 22 spun a movie in my third eye. “The number 22 is fitting at this exact moment.” Two of her sons are in the Texas area and two of her sons are in Mexico. Four sons separated by a border created by the Rio Grande River, but bonded by mother’s love.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Mom’s sole sibling came to visit her today. Mom was surprisingly better. My uncle talked to her in a way that only an older brother could; in a loving yet direct way. If it were not for my uncle, there is no way we could have completed a Living Will and a DNR. It was awesome to see mom in such good spirits, especially when I told her mother, my abuela had told me, “It is not yet her time.”

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

My wife and I got her to sign the finalized Living Will and DNR. On our way out of the hospital, we ran into the Oncologist and General Doctor. “We recommend hospice. At this point the cancer will continue to perforate her stomach.” Those words were a sucker punch to the gut as I immediately thought about abuela and her time at hospice care. “She lived only three days after she arrived home,” is all I could think. My future was suddenly rattled. But wait, abuela told me it was not her time yet?

I went home to eat dinner. I desperately needed normality. I needed my children and wife to feel grounded. Tears covered my face at the thought of not having mom around. I rushed out of my house after dinner and bathing the kids. I wanted to say good night to my mom on last time before visiting hours were enforced. My mind was inundated with haunting thoughts. I was in no condition to drive. I did not leave my subdivision before I got into a wreck. Admittedly, I ran into a silver truck. It was my fault. “What does 22 mean?” “Why do I keep seeing it?” I thought as I heeded God’s warning to slow down and ground myself. I researched the numbers 22, 222 for the first time and I found out in Angel numbers it means, “Keep the Faith.”


Thursday, October 1, 2015

I woke up to see #22 on my fridge formed by plastic magnets. “Ha,” I thought, “My kids must have been playing with magnets, but thank you Lord for the reminder to keep my faith.”

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Friday, October 2, 2015

It was my youngest child’s birthday today. My mom secretly wished to be better by this weekend. She told me earlier in the week that she wanted all birthdays to proceed as planned and to bring her a piece of cake.

After dinner and a small celebration with my wife and children at home, I spent the night with mom at the hospital. Little did I know it would be the last night I would be with her. I took my laptop with me. It was my time to ask her questions. Around 9PM, I pulled out my laptop. I told her I was writing a book titled, To The Most Influential Woman in My Life Who I Barely Knew. She laughed. A part of me knew she wasn’t going to share much. What she did share though, those golden nuggets of information, I will forever treasure.

Friday night was horrible. It was the first time that I had seen her hallucinate. The pain medication made her afraid of the nurses and she described seeing “people” steal her medicine. If the side effects were not bad enough, she yanked the IVs off the machine and was refusing any more drugs. For the second time in my life, mom was a vulnerable child.

Sunday, October 4, 2015

As a family, we all decided home hospice was the best option. Luckily, a good friend is a hospice nurse and gave us additional information regarding hospice options. That day, I decided to take Day 1 of watching mom. “Someone is required to be with her 24 hours a day,” was the instruction we received. A hospice nurse or assistant would be there once a day to change her gauze and check vitals. The night before, I prayed for a 24-hour nurse to be alongside my mom. I know my weaknesses and I struggled with the idea of changing her diaper, gauze, etc.

Monday, October 5 2015

On my way to mom’s small house, I stopped by the Dollar General to pick up last-minute essentials. I bought trash bags, bed liners, sheets, throw blankets, pillows, diapers, gloves, air freshener. I prayed, “God you know me better than I. I am of your service. Thank you for giving me the strength and knowledge to be there for my mother. Thank you for the endurance and alertness to be 100% for my mother.” The hospice transport delivered mom at 11AM. Between me, my brother, stepfather, wife, and sister-in-law, we made great efforts to make her home pleasant, stocked with her favorite foods, and comfortable.

Immediately after the hospice drivers drove off mom asked me to look for her blue purse. After a couple failed attempts at locating the correct blue purse, I found it. She instructed me to get $200 out of her purse. She made it very clear. The money was for her grandchildren with birthdays in October. At that moment, I was a deer in headlights. As the sun set on her life, she was still concerned more about her family than she was about herself. Her selflessness shot through me and left an indelible mark on my soul. “In my death bed, I want to be thinking of others just like she,” I thought.

At noon I heard a knock on the door. To our surprise, it was a hospice nurse who informed us that a nurse would be with mom 24 hours a day. “Wow!” I humbly thanked the Lord for answering my prayers. My children and wife came over Monday night. The life a child brings in somber moments will always astound me. For a few hours, mom was healthy and normal; she was laughing, telling jokes, eating, and loving on her grandchildren. “Thank you Lord for this moment,” I prayed on my home that night.

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

In my dream, mom visited me. She was healthy and in her 30’s. She did not say much, but somehow I felt everything she ever wanted to tell me. “Keep your faith.”

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Mom passed away at 2:22PM surrounded by her family and friends; just the way she would have wanted. This was her time.

Friday, October 9, 2015

The funeral service was the outlet I needed to shed tears and mourn the passing of my mother. I am forever grateful to those friends who sent flowers and made it to the service to honor my mom.

October 11 – 17, 2015, Zacatecas, Mexico

This trip was a pilgrimage back to mom’s home town. For the first time, all brothers were together. I felt mom everywhere.

October 21, 2015

Tomorrow will be tough for me. Mom was always the first one to wish me happy birthday. No matter where I was living, she made it a point to call me first thing in the morning.

October 22, 2015

While the kids were getting ready for school, I opened my birthday card my wife left me the night before. Included in my birthday card was a lottery ticket. My eyes zoom directly to the bottom, right-hand side. Is that the number 22? “Holy crap it is!” “Thank you mom, I knew you would somehow manage to wish me happy birthday first thing in the morning!”


For lunch I stopped at Fuzzy’s Tacos before my appointment with a tattoo artist. I did not know where to sit. I let myself be guided by Spirit. As I took a bit of my taco, I looked up and I saw the number 22 directly in front of me. “Holy crap, thanks mom for having lunch with me”! I was stunned and thankful for this moment.


For obvious reasons I got a 22 tatted on my arm. I am keeping my faith and mom close to me.