My great-grandfather was a very wise man. He was my step great-grandfather, but I didn’t know it until I was an adult, nor did it ever matter. My great grandmother was a widow raising three children when she met him in Los Angeles. He worked as a secretary in a large steel company until his retirement, when he went to work for General Electric as a security guard.
He bought a modest two- bedroom house in South Central Los Angeles. That house was a gathering place, and often my home when I was growing up. I called him Nino, but his name was Joseph. He had a huge backyard where he grew fruit trees and vegetables. He always said that you should grow things you can eat. He always made sure there was plenty to eat. For lunch he would holler in Spanish, “Ninos, venga!” Lunch was an array of fruit from the yard and tortillas that my great grandmother made.
Nino came from Cuba and was diligent about reading. He told me that Reader’s Digest helped him learn English. School and church were important to him. He told me that reading books is the key to life. When there was a Father-Daughter fashion show at my school I asked him to take me. He also took me to Dodger games and explained the game to me. He said that a fan is always faithful.
When I got married, I asked him to walk me down the aisle. He was the one constant in my life. Nino would tell me little bits of advice, like, “Brush your hair 100 strokes every day to have it grow long and shiny.” I think that’s why I still have long hair.
I never heard him raise his voice. When he was displeased, he’d shake his head and walk away.
When I got diagnosed with a very serious illness he gave me a piece of paper with the words, “Take up thy bed and walk.” I think of his words when it gets hard to get out of bed.
I named my son after Nino in hopes that my son would be as kind and loving as my Nino. He is.
It’s been in my head and heart to see new places, explore different cultures, learn about how to do new things. That’s why I spend time admiring posts of scenery from places I long to experience for myself.
Lately my fascination centers around waterfalls. My first encounter was in Costa Rica ten years ago with a group of surfers who managed to get a great travel package that included horseback riding to a waterfall and zip lining through a rainforest. It was an unforgettable and much needed adventure.
Most recently I saw Snowdonia where there are too many waterfalls to count. I sat in the backseat of my son-in-law’s car gaping at the majesty of it all. That is another trip I hold in my heart.
This world is full of magical memory making place waiting to be explored. I’m ready for another adventure.
My youngest daughter lives in the UK. I live in California. When she shared the news of her pregnancy, I began a series of Letters to My Granddaughter. I felt the urgent need to capture all my emotions and keep a living record of my joy and hope for the future. I wanted my words to wrap her in love, and assure her that I will always be grateful for her life. This tiny girl reminds me of her mama; so sweet. As I held her I thought about how love is limitless. She is in my heart wherever I am.
Here are a few letters I wrote before she was born;
December 31, 2011
Right now you are preparing for your entry into the world. We are all very glad that you got this far and we are anxious to meet you. Your mom and dad smile when they talk about you. I got to see your movements across your mom’s belly via a wonderful invention called Skype. I knew that a baby in utero can hear sounds outside the womb, so every time I talk to your mom, I tell her to say that I love you. Soon I will get to say that myself. Your cradle is amazing, complete with fairy lights all around your room. You are so loved already. There are a billion things I want to show you! I live near the ocean and plan to show you tidepools and teach you what I know about the sea. Summers will be our time.
I love you,
January 2, 2012
It is New Year’s Eve and I don’t like to go out of my house on this day. Some people think that to celebrate you must drink and alter your mind. I think it is not a good idea to begin the new year with anything but a clear head full of hopes for the future. I hope you will have an easy birth. Our celebration will be clear-headed joy and we will be drinking in the moment. We are anxious to dance with you, sing to you, and hold you. Birth is the greatest celebration of all.
I love you,
January 12, 2012
2012 is the year you will be born, so it is already filled with hope. I have so many things I want to accomplish this year. I want to be the best grandma a child could ask for. It will be a year of changes for your parents because they will be on a new journey, one in which there is no guidebook. Being a parent will be their primary job. They are both busy professionals, but you will be their reason for living, and making a living. They don’t know it yet, but every single second they spend with you is worth more than any time doing anything else. It goes by so quickly. My hope for the new year is that I can get to see you as much as possible.
I’ve been putting up daily reminders to focus on the importance of a healthy attitude based on my values. Reframing negative thoughts is becoming part of my daily practice.
Today I am in my upstairs bedroom while installers are putting in new flooring. I learned that my daily practice is working. I called my son to tell him what progress is being made on the massive flooring project. I mentioned that I was told not to walk on the stairs until morning. He said, “So you’re basically trapped upstairs.” I told him ,”I prefer to think of it differently because I have a bed, bathroom, and kitchen , so I have everything I need for now.” I also told him that sometimes having alone time is great.
It really helps to begin each day with the intention of feeding the mind a healthy diet .
So many tourists visit our little town, and not just during the summer. The cooler ocean air brings many people from the valley to our area to escape the heat.
The roughed coast of California offers sights that visitors from other areas seldom, if ever, see. I live in a place that is an escape for many. Being a desirable vacation destination means it gets unusually crowded with tourists on holidays. The rest of the time it is peaceful and quiet.
Up the coast we have a viewing site for elephant seals, and if you look up into the nearby hills, you will see Hearst Castle, where zebras, cows and llamas roam the area. The sunsets cause drivers to pull over and to stare in awe. I’m grateful that I live in this beautiful, peaceful place.
Having lived in the high desert for too long, the 23 years I have been on the Central Coast have given me a firm belief that being near the ocean restores body and mind. I am grateful to be lulled to sleep by the waves. Some nights I can hear the seals on the rocks.
It gives me great joy to put my love into each quilt. They sleep under a blanket of love. I have a Babylock Spirit Embroidery Machine that I use for the designs.
Hooded bath towels
I make hooded bath towels for kids of all ages. If you have a special character in mind, email me (Caysunset@gmail.com) and I will see if I can make it for you.
$30 each and mailing within US is an additional $10.
My son took his family to see the area where he attended college. They packed up their camping gear and headed for Humboldt in their newly acquired travel trailer. He told his wife and children about his adventures rowing crew, climbing rocks at Patrick’s Point, and how his path to class was through the forest behind a house he shared with friends. He wanted them to see very tall Redwoods, float on a river, and walk through a tree. The kids learned how wonderful s’mores are after a campfire dinner. To share your most precious memories with your wife and children is a gift they will treasure.
I made them promise to take pictures and come back with stories to tell. The grandmother in me took Kaia (3 years old) aside before they left for their adventure, and gave her a coach’s whistle, telling her to wear it if she goes outside the trailer. I showed her how to blow it hard if she can’t see her mom and dad. I should have known they would have walkie-talkies, and never let the kids out of their sight.
I see your tiny bodies and I am grateful for every breath you take. Each of you are the greatest joy of my life. Holding you in my arms takes me back to when your parent was my baby. I had no experience or guide, but a heart full of love. I learned that you have your own personality, but love will help shape it. I learned that time with you is more important than anything that takes me away from you. I am grateful for your parents who share you with me. My hope is that I have given you good memories that you can recall at times when you think of me.
This world is in need of people of courage. Don’t be afraid to speak up when you feel you can help make a contribution for the good. Guard yourself from harm by remembering good habits of mind, body and spirit. Dance when you heart feels the urge. You will find music and muses that will make you want to dance. Don’t wait to show sincere appreciation. The time to act from your heart will always be now. Steer clear of anything and anyone who makes you feel less than the great, beautiful, treasure that you are. Instead, wish them happiness, but use your compass to regain true north. Each of us has one life on this earth, so make yours the best it can be. Know that you are loved. So loved.
I am a mother of three who are all grown, and a grandmother to four. As a retired elementary teacher for both general and special education, I quickly learned that sitting at home watching Dr. Phil wasn’t a good fit for me (nothing against Dr. Phil). Seeking ways I could remain connected to education, I applied to two universities near my home. I have been supervising student teachers and teaching an online Master’s Degree course in Literacy for six years and The Art and Craft of Teaching.
I am the first in my family to earn a Masters Degree and two credentials. Being half Mexican and half English has informed my thinking regarding stereotypes, inclusion, racial divide and privilege. I highly recommend the book White Fragility by Robin DiAngelo. With a strong desire to learn all I can, I continue to register for courses and opportunities to learn about ways I can make a difference. I facilitated two Book Circles on Culturally Responsive Teaching The Brain by Jaretta Hammond, and Emotional Agility by Susan David. I joined a team to create a newsletter for student teachers.
Currently I am finishing a children’s book that has been on my mind for years. Who says I can’t be a published author after retirement?!
Email me at Caysunset@caysunset
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