The Garage, the Tahoe and Remembering — SOL Day 25

We gutted the garage so we could put our old Tahoe in — it’s been sitting out front for years, getting a little weathered.  Dad wanted to sell it, but it’s the truck we all kind of grew up in.  When we got our house some 13 years go, very soon after we got the Tahoe, with several in our extended family saying we didn’t need it with only 3 kids.

We popped out 2 more sometime after.  🙂

In 2008, gas prices went through the roof, so we got another little car in 2009, 2010 (forget which), and, of course, that’s been our go-to vehicle for commuting.   Meanwhile, Tahoe sits until we need him for little family jaunts.

Dad wanted to sell him, but I told him we worked too hard for him to just get rid of him for a few thousand bucks.  The A/C’s pokey, he has an oil leak (we prepped the garage floor for it), there’s a problem with the windows so we’ve got to keep them up .. and although he has over 250,000 miles, I’m still absolutely in love with him.  My plan is for him to be our project car.. just like some people do.  When we moved to the city, we abandoned the plans of raising our family in the country with space and traditions that would have followed from our own upbringing .. long walks in open spaces, skygazing at night without the sound of cars nearby, tinkering with trucks in the garage.  Keeping the Tahoe is my little consolation prize after all these years.

It’s funny, because as we unpacked the garage and sorted stuff into trash (new vacuum box, new tv box, new tennis shoes boxes) and goodwill things, for the 45th time, I was shoving boxes of kid things and grade remembrances in corners, just to make room for the biggest keepsake of them all.

I don’t mind.  Days like this — and I knew this would come — made me slow down and savor our history, which is what I’ve really, really needed lately.  Life is just so high-pressure-everything.  It’s everywhere — phones, social media, noise, politics — fast, intense, urgent.  I tell my children life doesn’t have to be like this where you don’t have time to pause and look at each other.  We don’t have to be ships passing through the night.  Let’s slow down, think about this moment, remember the past together.

It’s working out.. because they kids helped me clean the garage today in record time (about 3 hours).  Every now and then, they’d pause .. and I’d watch my own children tenderly stacking boxes of their own memorabilia they want to keep and remember, too.

“Mama.. I have such strong memories about this, it’s so important to me.”

Me, too, baby, me too.  What’s most important is right in front of me…


Notebook History – SOL Day 3

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My memory’s vanished over time.

Nothing traumatic happened to me over my life that caused me to repress anything.. that I know of.  I don’t think I have something growing through my brain.. that I know of.. yet.  But at age 44, I can honesty say that I, at the age of 44, have a very limited memory of my childhood.  I don’t know where they are.

I make them up as I go along..

Meaning — something will remind me of a memory, and I’ll bring it into my Notebook.  I’ll notice that writing will draw out the event, beginning with a trace, and slowly fill in the image of the past, much like a child filling in a picture in a coloring book.


and that’s as far as I got before something came up during Writing Time in class today.

The point I was getting at.. I completely forgot!

(Note to self:  what are the best ways to capture ideas so that I won’t forget?)


Dad’s Tapes – SOL 2016


Tonight, without any prompting from me, my mother gave me three full boxes of my Dad’s cassette tape recordings.  Some are his original music, some are recordings from various Spanish stations, all of them are memory.

I’ve been given a treasure trove of my father’s memories.

I have access to a part of soul, I can guess what he felt, I can reach for his motivation and thinking — Why did he record this and not this other thing over here?  He was interested in this?  Wow, I didn’t know this!

This is a big deal for me, as my parents have had nothing to do with the Facebook era.  No statii on various posts, no 140-character thoughts.

Dad ebbed into the silence, and now I’ve been given the memory of his voice.   … I’m still processing this.  But I know it’s a magnificent thing.  Thank you, Mom.


Why did he record so much?  Was he lonely?

– No, Mom, he was alive.  And making memories for us.

But there’s so much.

– That’s because he had so much to say.  This was his language, a part of his soul.


… On Why Recording Your Thoughts is so Important.




Tree Rings – SOL

My youngest daughter completes her 8th year this December.  To me, she’s already 9, which is mysterious to me because just 6 months ago, she was only 5 years old.

This particular phenomenon is all my doing.  The children don’t see this in themselves, they don’t intend to demonstrate these ages at all, but as the wistful parent who’s watching the last of her children’s childhoods .. it’s all I can do to see them 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 all at once.  Or 19, 18, 17, 16, 15, and 14.  Or 21, 20, 19 and 18.  Or 10, 9, 8, and 7. Or 13, 12 and 11.  That would be my second daughter.  She has always been 11 since she was 2, graceful and mature and independent since she knew she could run.

Beatrice, my youngest, aged quickly from 5 to 9 because 9 has always been my favorite year for the children, because 9 was my own favorite year.  I have very few memories.  What memories I do have depend on photographs of 1.) me nestling next to my mother when she was about 47 (… I’ve silenced myself for a second there.. Just this moment I realized this.  Mom was just a few years older than I am now..) and of 2.)  me before I go on my first trip, by myself to a big city.

Me, standing with medium-length hair parted on the right with a bow.  Me, semi-toothless and joyful.  Me, still clueless in childish wonder.  This was the year before I woke up.  Before I knew.  Before I saw.  Before I felt.  Before I understood.  Before I knelt.  Before I cried.

Sometime several weeks ago, the age kicked in for my youngest.  Which is unusual for my thinking.  Usually, their little years will extend into their older years, and not the other way around.  My soul must sense this last year, wanting to relish this last year early.

With every 9 that my children celebrate, I find myself cherishing the last of their childhood, but contemplating the strength of my will to sustain the joy,  peace and innocence of their lives.  Just by loving well, I think.

That’ll do it.




[still drafting]



imageOn our way down to the Rio Grande Valley, we pass several Whataburger restaurants, beginning a few miles from our home.  I can think of 1, 2, 3.. 7 Whataburgers as a viable turn-in option as we travel.  Obviously, it’s a Texas staple.

I’m not the first one to coin that phrase.  I think I borrow it from Joe Patoski who wrote several articles about Selena, the Tejano Queen, for Texas Monthly.  Whataburger was a staple for her, too, while she was growing up.  It’s interesting to think that these restaurants have been visited by the most diverse socioeconomic segment of society in Texas.  From infamous international music stars like Selena, to Texans eating hamburgers at their counters since I was 5, to immigrants crossing the border into America with nothing but the clothes on their back, Whataburger’s fed everyone.

I didn’t consider those ideas when I snapped this picture for a pitstop.  I liked the word “envisioned,” so I wanted to remember it.  Sitting here, listening to the roll of the road beneath my seat, I realize Whataburger memorializes memories of movement for millions of Texans.

We pass through, Whataburger stands.  Since 1950.


Sidekick. – SOL Day 8

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I changed my avatar.  That’s me at 9 years old.  I loved that year.  Every time my children have turned 9, I celebrate that year as though they’re graduating from college or getting married.

This is almost true.  I’ve had 2 children graduate from high school — one a junior, another a sophomore in college — so I’ll soon know whether I’ll feel the same overwhelming joy of them earning their college degrees as I felt when they turned 9.  College degrees are no measure of lifelong success, not now, not in this economy.  But when you’re 9, you’ve entered the realm of reason and begin to enjoy the unfolding of life.


This is pretty much when my memory begins.

I have flashes of images — from old photographs not in my possession (isn’t that curious?):  me, holding on to Mom’s elbow when she was a teacher’s aide at my old school.  Me, about to embark on my first solo journey to San Antonio on a school trip.  Me, celebrating my 9th birthday, surrounded by my family that had outgrown me — which is where my avatar comes from.


I was 8 years younger than my closest sibling.  And, so, when I woke up to the world, everyone had already moved on.  That’s how I became Dad’s sidekick.

I don’t remember having done everything with him, but I do remember tagging along when he went to McAllen for tv parts and schematics (tv repairman), when he prepped his classroom and stocked it with measured chemicals and bunsen burners (chemistry teacher), when he drove for miles, late on Friday nights to drop off film for our local football team (team photographer) .. I just hung out with Dad.

We didn’t have conversations that I remember.  I don’t have photographs of those times.  I’m probably the only one in this world who remembers him being peaceful in his solitude as I recall these moments, because I know I was such a diminutive presence when I was around.  I kept Dad company, and he whistled.

He whistles still.