Ode to my mother, Mary

“I can be changed by what happens to me. But I refuse to be reduced by it.” Maya Angelou’s words ring as true today as they did growing up. My earliest memories are not of Disneyland, carnival rides, soccer practices, or extravagant birthday parties. Contrary, my earliest memories are of darkness. I cannot remember which came first, the time I hid under my bed and urinated on myself or the time I saw my mother’s battered face against a tree: the mix of blood and tree bark was not found on the color wheel shown to me in pre-kindergarten the day before. As a child, I was conditioned to automatically fear my alcoholic father.  Others did not need to influence me. His actions directly manifested my conditioning. Such as the universe works in mysterious ways to balance darkness and light, my mother was the loving superhero that quickly recovered and comforted her boys. As my childhood memories flow through my consciousness a sweet smell is stamped on every memory picture. I note that the smell of fresh red and pink roses moments before a rainstorm and a Texas spring have always been present.

My mother had the strength and assertiveness of a man. Like Hulk Smash, she quickly morphed into my superhero when she needed to protect her boys or herself from abusive men. I vividly remember the moment I felt the urge to check in with my mother after hours of playing down the street with my brothers and friends. At the age of 13 I knew to follow my intuition. A hint of the reoccurring sweet smell of a Texas spring accentuated my intuition. I walked in the house just in time to see my mother raise an iron skillet behind the wooden kitchen table turned on its side. It was evident that the kitchen table served as an Aegeus shield for my mother. imageI witness my superhero in action. That night after the cops where called and after being displaced to a friend’s house, my loving mother comforted my brothers and me as we feel asleep to her repeating affirmation, “We will be alright. Everything will be ok.”

For the majority of my life my mother was a single parent. On Father’s Day, my brothers and I made it a point to buy our mother flowers and a card. Oddly enough, Hallmark did not carry a card that conveyed, “Happy Father’s Day to the Best Mother in The World.” I guess single parenting was not common enough to warrant a section for mothers who acted as both parents. We recognized her struggles to maintain a house and raise three crazy boys. My mother embodied both father and mother, masculine and feminine, and strength and love. “I don’t need a father,” I found myself sharing my sentiment to anyone that would care to listen.

As my childhood catches up to the present, I know now the importance that Mother Mary has played in my life. She has accompanied me all these years. Mother Mary, like my mother, is very loving, kind, nurturing, feminine, and at the same time, masculine and assertive. My religion taught me to pray to God, Jesus, Mother Mary, and to any saint. imageAs a catholic I am comfortable invoking saints and Mother Mary when as needed. I do ultimately pray to one, supreme, heavenly Father, but Mother Mary is the one that visits me in my dreams. She comforted me the many nights I feared being abducted by my father. She assuaged my nightmares and dried my tears with love and grace. She was present when I managed depression caused by years of molestation and caused my hands to steer left seconds before contemplating driving into a light post on I35 South. Most importantly though, I now know she has been my intuition.

The day before my mother passed to be with her Heavenly Father I prayed and meditated. I am a believer that our loved ones need to hear “I forgive you” or “please forgive me for” so they can cross stripped of any guilt or rancor they may harbor. In that hour of meditation, I told my mother everything she needed to hear.  “Mom, I forgive you for not being there to prevent my being molested. I forgive you for not seeing the signs to put a stop to it. I forgive you for not being my superhero in this one situation in my life.” Similarly I asked for forgiveness. “Please forgive me for not visiting you as much as we both would have liked. Please forgive me for sponsoring my father to become a US Citizen against your wishes. Please forgive me for the moments I did not meet your expectations as a son.” I concluded my monologue with, “I thank you for being the center of my universe, and I thank you for being the best mother and father. I love you unconditionally and I cannot wait to get to know you better from the other side. I welcome you to all aspects of my life and eagerly anticipate sharing my spiritual development with you and your assistance.” My mediation was cathartic. It was a lifetime of therapy sessions condensed in a power hour; a divinely induced energy release.imageThis moment was an ode to my mother. As I started to ground myself from my meditative state, a silhouette of Mother Mary appeared in my mind’s eye. A fragrant smell of roses moments before the rain validated the importance of this special moment.

#22

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!

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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.”

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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!”

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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.

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

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