The Day I Almost Died

In honor of my godson’s birthday, here’s a post from May, 2015

I almost died the day my godson Martin was born. But more about that later…

1st birthday

Martin’s 1st birthday

I’m godmother to 4 kids – Eric, Corie, Martin and my nephew Kevin. Hard to believe people actually entrusted me with their children’s religious upbringing, isn’t it?what were they thinkingNever mind the last time I knelt in a pew was during the Reagan administration. Maybe that’s an exaggeration…more like the Clinton era.

First Holy Communion

First Holy Communion

Now don’t get me wrong; I may not be a church-going Catholic but I’m on good terms with the Big Guy. He knows, although I’m not a weekly parishioner, most days I attempt to be a decent human being. For instance, I’m pretty sure I’ve only violated three of the Ten Commandments. I can’t be certain though since I only remember four.

10 CommandmentsActually, I’m lucky to be alive to break any of the Commandments.

That brings us to when I almost died the day Martin was born. It was November 4, 1992. His parents, Sharon and Jim, invited me to videotape Martin’s big entrance. But when Jim called saying it was almost time, I’d just finished a graveyard shift so was half asleep.

Still, I did my best Danica Patrick impersonation to reach the hospital 45 minutes away.

Danica Patrick

Speeding at 80 mph, I nodded off, almost hitting the center divider. I was heading toward the white light, if you know what I mean. Suddenly, it was as if my guardian angel gave me a whiff of smelling salts and snapped me awake. If my life flashed before my eyes, I was simply too tired to notice. Anyway, turns out I needn’t have hurried; Martin took his sweet time getting here.

Oh so close...

Oh so close…

Fast forward to last weekend, when my now 22-year-old godson graduated the from University of Dallas. Unlike in my blog, The Art of Travel, this time my only issue on the plane was enduring a three hour flight with the sweet, headphone-wearing young gal next to me humming to music on her iPhone. The. Entire. Three. Hours.

 

Coulda been worse I guess. She wasn’t an awful hummer. And at least I wasn’t next to the guy 5 rows up who forgot his headphones though still enjoyed a comedy on his laptop. It was a Seinfeld episode – the one where Jerry can’t remember the name of his date but knows it rhymes with a woman’s body part. I know this because I, and everyone within 5 rows of him, heard every word. (If you’re wondering, her name was Delores.)

Over in Dallas, during a night of flash flooding and thunderstorms that shook our hotel and triggered our cell phone alarms at 3:00 a.m., we waited for a tornado to hit. Why do folks fear measly earthquakes? Texas can keep their tornadoes. Give me a ground shaker any day of the week.

Anyway, my godson, sporting a little ponytail, a goatee and a broad smile, proudly accepted his BA in Business. What a journey it’s been.

He’s the handsome one in the middle

I admit I had my doubts about that kid as a tyke, when he’d pull out tufts of his sister Caitlin’s hair or, from his car seat, bit off chunks of padding from the car door upholstery. Let’s just say he was quite a handful.

Check out that devilish grin (Martin's, not mine)

Check out that devilish grin (Martin’s, not mine)

Martin and his sister Caitlin

Martin and sister Caitlin

But no need to worry; this story has a happy ending. Martin grew, both literally and figuratively (he’s now 6’5″) to become an engaging, kind and considerate young man. And perhaps most importantly, he calls his godmother on her birthday and on Mother’s Day too. That’s without knowing he’s already in my Will.

Yep, last Sunday was quite a day. Watching Martin graduate, I had a hard time believing 22 years had already passed since that day on November 4, 1992 when two great things happened: my godson made his late but grand entrance into the world and I lived to see it.
Jim, Caitlin, Martin and Sharon

Jim, Caitlin, Martin and Sharon

 

Martin and me bowling

martin and me at airport

 

In My Mind’s Eye: Remembering Dad

Here’s my annual Father’s Day post, adapted from an article I wrote in 1997 for the San Francisco Chronicle about the relationship I shared with my dad. Here’s to fathers everywhere…There’s an image I have captured in my mind. I’m in my car in front of the home my parents have shared for most of their 45 married years. Mom and Dad are standing on the front porch.

From the street, I can see the huge eucalyptus tree in their backyard, silhouetted against the evening sky. It’s gently swaying in the warm breeze while the full moon illuminates the manicured lawn. My parents are smiling and waving as I drive away after a visit.

Mom lives alone now that Dad is in an Alzheimer’s nursing facility, so that scenario has changed. But it never does in my mind. My parents always stood on the porch to wave good-bye when I left. Even in pouring rain, they still stood in the open doorway together. I always looked back and returned their waves. Continue reading

The Sweetest Gift

Mother’s Day is my annual tribute to my mom, the most important woman in my life…an exceptionally thoughtful, giving and loving person who also happened to be my best friend. How lucky was I?

My mom, Loretta Rose, with Bailey

She gave me love as well as life; so whatever goodness I may bring to Earth began with the gift of my mother’s heart…

At some point in our relationship, my mom transitioned from being my parent to also being a great friend. I’d say it happened in 1985, when she was diagnosed with incurable, inoperable  lung cancer. Continue reading

My Memory Chest

I’m someone who has a hard time letting go. So I keep items that have value to nobody but me. These mementos reside in a cedar “memory chest” in my spare room upstairs. When I kick the bucket, one of my executors (Sue, Sharon or Pam) gets the thrill of going through my things and deciding what to toss. I’m betting it’s going to be a busy day for the garbage man.

cedar chest

Now don’t get me wrong; my friends can do whatever they’d like with my possessions. I won’t care if they dump sentimental items I can’t part with yet. After all, I’ll be dead, remember? But just for the fun of it, I’ll probably haunt whomever draws the short straw for that task.

Grandpa had the cedar chest carved in Thailand for Nana around 80 years ago, back when he was an importer/exporter traveling the world. I think of them whenever I open the chest and the essence of cedar escapes, filling the room with memories. That’s why I love the smell of cedar.

Nana & Grandpa

So when rain finally arrived this week, giving me an excuse to stay home, I went through the chest for the first time in years. I could easily spend a day reminiscing in there but I managed to keep it to a couple hours. After all, my to-do list awaits and one can’t dilly dally long or the list invariably grows. Continue reading

Down Memory Lane

Last week I had occasion to visit the neighborhood where I grew up in Santa Venetia, also derogatorily known as Scabo. I’m not sure what that stands for but since it’s an ugly word, I’m guessing it wasn’t known as the most desirable place to live. But I beg to differ.

Santa Venetia

Kids don’t know they don’t live in a mansion. I certainly didn’t. We had 4 bedrooms that weren’t much bigger than some large walk-in closets and closets not much wider than a refrigerator. Now don’t get me wrong; I didn’t care one bit. I had what I needed and that was enough.

our house

Our little house

To me, our Doughboy Pool was the bomb (better known as groovy back then). Other neighborhood dads helped my dad install it. That’s how it was; neighbors helping neighbors. On summer afternoons, being in that pool or playing ping pong on the patio were my favorite places to be.

me in pool

Even as a teen, still in the pool

Continue reading