One Dear Family Story

images (11)I don’t know why, but I was thinking of one of my grandfathers lately, the one from my mother’s side. I remember being a few years old and holding my grandma’s hand while going from visiting my great-aunt to my grandparents’ house who lived in the same village. We met grandpa who was in a carriage full of cantaloupes, taking the harvest from the field directly to the market in a small town. Grandpa Bunu stopped the cart, looked for a beautiful piece of fruit and handed it to grandma Buna to carry it for me.

He knew how to make a violin from a dry corn stalk and play it for me. We were best friends.

Some time went by. My mother was pregnant with my sister when she and my father took me on a train and stopped at my grandparents’ home that late summer. My grandfather had passed away.
I didn’t know what that meant. It was a nice unexpected excursion for me, but I realized that something was different than usual when I saw my aunts and a few neighbors all wearing black and talking in a low voice.

By the time we got in the yard, nobody paid attention to me. Mom was crying. She hugged her mother and sisters and went in the house. The first room was the living room with a cooking area, but they didn’t stop there. Buna opened the second room, the one for guests, where I wasn’t allowed to play. When they got in that room, they were not aware that I was following them.

And there was my grandfather, lying on a rug on the floor. I didn’t scream. My family members were crying and wailing and I stood there watching. I was seven years old, living in a communist country, where people couldn’t buy a coffin when they needed it. They had to go and order it and the body was kept on the floor until the coffin arrived.
The whole scene was pretty scary, but not for me. I walked outside and went in the backyard where my oldest cousin was carving a piece of wood. He was making a cross for the grave.

It was sunny and pretty hot, but I remember that quince tree and my cousin working under its shade. I joined him for a while, but when some vanilla fragrance had spread in the air, I rushed in the summer kitchen where one of my aunts was making donuts.

Grandma Buna was sitting on the edge of the daybed and wiping her tears. The sound of her voice was soft and I went and sat next to her while she was finishing a story.
“I asked him to pray to God and receive Jesus and he always said that he would not die until he would get right with God.” She stopped and sighed. My mom and dad were listening.
“And?” my mother whispered.
Grandma blew her nose.
“I don’t know. He got bad, then worse and when the doctor left yesterday, I knew there was no hope.” She tidied the margin of the bedspread with her tired hand. “He turned on a side to face the wall and I bent over to see him. He couldn’t talk anymore. I saw a tear coming down on his face, and then he was gone.”

My heart ached and I stayed there in the dim light and sobbed.


Meanwhile in Orange County, CA

images (11)No, I’m not in a “Fast and Furious” mode, I’m a mom of elementary kids.

It’s good that you don’t need to listen to our morning conversations, but our neighbors have no choice.

  1. You better get up of your bed when I say so because I just had my first coffee.
  2. No, I don’t know where you left your homework last night.
  3. Too bad that you forgot your new snickers on the lawn and the sprinklers went off. You’ll enjoy wearing the old ones.
  4. You and your brother can use the same sink to brush your teeth. And no, we don’t do it over the dishes in the kitchen sink. Since daddy is in the second bathroom and you know how peculiar he is to read the news while on toilet, we don’t disturb him. Men need to stay informed.
  5. Do I yell? No, that’s my voice when you don’t answer in the beginning.
  6. Cheerios it is. No, we are out of the cinnamon ones. You know how much your grandma likes them.
  7. It’s the last day for what? Let me talk to your father. “Darling, do we sign her up for her modeling class? No?” Dad said “no.” I know it’s frustrating, but you can join the reading club.
  8. Ready?
  9. I can’t find my phone.
  10. I found it.
  11. Buckle up. No, I didn’t bring your backpack.
  12. Who let the dog out?
  13. Darling, tell grandma the baby needs a bottle. Yes, I will take her to the doctor’s appointment after I drop the kids off. And yes, I’ll pick up your shirts from the cleaners.
  14. Hi, sis, I’m sorry I can’t talk right now. We are late for school, but I’ll call you later. He said what? Ah, men! Hold on, sis, and I’ll call you back in ten.
  15. Hey, you, in that red Honda! Move on! I usually don’t honk, but people can be so insensitive these days. Well, I didn’t know it’s Mary’s mom.
  16. You, guys, be good. I’ll miss you. (Not.)

(17. I’m a bad mother.)

  1. What? You told me it’s pajama day. No, I’m not bringing you new clothes. I’m sure everybody will love your Spiderman pattern.
  2. Starbucks, here I come. I wish they’d have a bed for moms. And a glass of wine.
  3. On the road again.

If You End Up Dancing with the Nerd, Baby, It’s OK

A Mom’s Letter to Her Freshman Daughter

It’s homecoming dance, baby!images (7)

Guess what: attending the dance was mandatory in my ancient time, in my far away world. And as much as you think that we didn’t care back then how we looked, I’m telling you, we cared.

One year my mamma’s sister announced that a friend of her came from Germany and had a few yards of amazing fabric for sale. She was thinking of me. There were already a few mothers lined up to buy the fabulous fabric, when my aunt put her name on the list.

It’s in vain to tell you that I was tall and thin, because it’s hard for you to believe. So, after a little debate between mom and auntie, they both decided that 1 (one) yard of fabric would be enough for my dress.

“She has long legs and it’s all right if they would show a little bit,” was my family conclusion and I went with that.

The tailor did a remarkable job and when the day came, I was nicely put together.

I said “see you soon” to my mom and dad that Saturday afternoon and walked to the ball in my new outfit. No, we didn’t have a car and no, there were no taxicabs, and yes, we lived in a jungle.

First hour went by and nobody invited me to dance, but I kept myself busy chatting with other girls and eating finger food. The boys had invited all the other girls to dance after a while, but me. It’s true that my height had caused some intimidation among my male schoolmates in the past year.

I blamed myself doing sports and facilitating those growing hormones to go crazy and I blamed mom and dad that they didn’t make me prettier.

The girls would come, drink some water and go back to dance. I was totally envious on their flushed cheeks and sweaty hair.

Until he came, Nagy, kind of a round body, science lover and wearing eyeglasses.

I never liked him, but now, when he got close and asked me to dance with him, I couldn’t wait to say “yes.”

We managed to waltz, my head easy towering the room over his head, but I didn’t care. The nerd saved your mamma from an everlasting shame.