Tag Archives: mom

Pre and Post Funeral Thoughts

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Pre-Funeral Thoughts

My father died and I’ve only told three people. I didn’t take off work. I didn’t even cry, although I’ve cried over plenty of other things recently (e.g. This Is Us, my ex-boyfriend, a coworker) and I’m sure this incident found a way to sneak in a tear or two while it had the chance.

It’s so strange losing someone who was an equally imperative and meaningless part of your life—I, at first, doubted that it was possible to mourn someone I hadn’t seen in over 20 years. I have a dad and he’s alive and well, probably working in his woodshop right now. This man who died is basically responsible for creating me, but not raising me, not loving me, not knowing me in any way. How insane is that? To create someone but never know them? I can’t even abandon a book, old shoes, or ancient Tupperware.

My mom said, “I’ll always have love for him because he gave me the greatest gift of my life—you.” And it’s funny because that’s how I’ve always felt about him. I’m only grateful that he gave me her. That’s all he’s ever been for me; he made it possible for me to live, and for me to be her daughter.

I wrote a poem back in October, when I first learned he was sick. Back when I asked my grandfather to keep me updated, but instead, I got a text in January that just read: “Robert Mendez memorial service” with a date, time, and place.

You kissed a pretty blonde cheerleader other side of the tracks type once
and probably thought nothing of it
thought nothing of the few years from then wedding,
the one her dad almost didn’t go to because of your last name
the same last name you’d give to a little baby girl
first name some Tejano singer from the station where you spent all your time
drinking and snorting away the reality that you were a husband and a father
not anything special
but you could’ve been special in the way the best people are
//
You probably couldn’t see all of this, right?
Back when you were in love and making a room laugh and playing piano
I guess you couldn’t see how your brother may have chosen to end his life
but so did you
long, drawn out, choosing to disappear
until you were dying in a hospital room
//
You want me to give some bedside eulogy while your body turns against you
but you died so long ago
I’m so confused
My funeral speech accolades about you were embedded in my
high school, bachelors, and masters diplomas, my book, my passport stamps—
everywhere that last name is inked
Everything good I’ve ever done is tainted by the tiniest truth
that I’m always proving what I can accomplish
without you
despite you
//
Even worse, everything bad that’s ever happened—
every terrible relationship choice
every panic attack
every depression
every over-analytical-anxiety-filled  am I good enough?
Everything can be sourly linked to you
//
So you see?
You’ve been here all along
in every achievement
every mishap
I wrote this all on your tombstone
sang these lyrics at your grave
I’ve said goodbye
and don’t know if I want to say it again

 

 

Post-Funeral Thoughts

PSA to every parent that could potentially be reading this: when you die, what do you want to be said at your funeral? I listened to an hour full of Bible verses and rosary repetition at my father’s funeral. There was nothing said about his life because I guess there was nothing to say.

You don’t have to be the richest or the smartest, you don’t have to climb Everest or invent a Shark Tank phenomenon, you don’t have to be the founder of a company, you don’t have to cure a disease…life is so meaningless unless you spread kindness, unless you love and are loved, unless you are remembered…

Hardly any people came to my father’s funeral. Most people who did show up were there to support my grandparents, one who doesn’t remember who I am and one who disowned me when I asked my dad to adopt me a couple years ago. Uncomfortable doesn’t really quite explain how I felt, sitting in the back of a near-empty funeral home room, seeing framed photos of a man who I vaguely resemble. Depressed, angry, annoyed, disgusted—there’s not one adjective that I could pin down and actually FEEL. I’ve never wanted to be in a room less, and that made me feel sad for him. And for my grandparents. It must be heartbreaking to outlive your children. Even more heartbreaking I suppose for there to be nothing to say at their funeral.

I guess that’s what I felt: sad. What most people feel at funerals, but a completely different kind of sadness really. I’m not sad that he’s gone—I’m sad that he’s always been gone. I’m not really sad for my loss—I’m sad for his.

Hell-Raiser

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Thank you for raising me to be a hell-raiser. When I took Drivers Ed with my best friend, she slammed on the breaks and cried once. Every time I was behind the wheel, it was more like Yippee Ki-yay Mother Fuckers!

Don’t get me wrong, there’s definitely pros to being the girl who cried in Drivers Ed. My best friend never has to apologize to people for her brazen words also known as “harsh honesty.” I do. I have to do that. A lot. Plus, I’m often told that it’s astounding that I’m still alive and well, driving the way I do.

BUT. I rarely take shit from anyone. I stand up for myself and my beliefs and my loved ones and women and people of color and my students and Humans Who Genuinely Enjoy Miracle Whip and my dog (he’s still learning, OK?!). I’m so full of self-righteous indignation sometimes that I have been known to—gasp!—tell a man why I don’t want to go on another date with him. I know, I know, the audacity! Let him think he’s amazing and superior, even when letting him down, right? NO. Not right.

I have stomped my foot, I have gotten on and off so many goddamn soapboxes, I have tutted and tsked my way through a room, and I have shaken my head and finger at plenty of deserving suspects. How dare they? Do they know who I am? Do they know who raised me?

Yes, yes, this means my options are narrowed. I’m too outspoken or too opinionated or too awesome for a lot of guys. I’d be married with a bunch of babies by now if I wasn’t such a hell-raiser. I just…can’t seem to stop.

I wanted to thank you for not being the kind of mother who says things like:

“You should really hurry up and meet a man so that I can have grandbabies.”

“Why are you still single? When are you gonna settle down?”

“You’re not getting any younger!”

“Maybe you shouldn’t be so picky; maybe this is the best thing that’s gonna come around…”

Sometimes I forget how lucky I am—I forget how common those questions are, how casually they’re constantly thrown at women like darts.

YOU say things like:

“You don’t HAVE to have kids. Don’t feel like you HAVE to have children. If you want them, well OK then.”

And then, when I say that yes, I do want kids one day, but I worry about the complications of having kids in your mid-late thirties:

“You know, you don’t have to get married to have a kid. You can always adopt. Never rush into something because you want to have kids.”

 “You should NEVER settle.”

 

It’s crazy how many parents pressure their children into getting married and having kids…I will always be grateful to have been raised by a woman like you, who never pressured me into doing anything besides focusing on my schoolwork. I may be biased as an educator, but I think that’s the only thing that parents should ever pressure their kids into doing, haha! You may not be perfect. I’m sure as hell not perfect. But I am a hell-raiser and you are perfect in my eyes. Thanks, Mama<3

Selfless

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I guess it’s time I write about Uncle Chuck. I mean, I kind of already wrote about him here. But I mean write about his death, which is weird since I think I’m still in the denial phase…

I couldn’t decide what I wanted to write…all my other blogs (try to) have a common theme of sorts. There are just so many thoughts, so many emotions, so much roller coaster bullshit that I could write about this past week.

I want to write about my Aunt Gigi and how she’s dealing with this and how we now know how much Uncle Chuck actually took care of her. She didn’t even know where the keys to the house were. He did everything for her—drove her everywhere, paid all the bills, cooked every meal…

I want to write about how you don’t have to be blood related to be family. He was the closest thing I’ve ever had to a real grandfather—he’s actually the only man who’s been there for me every day since I was born. He was a father when I didn’t have one, a grandfather when I didn’t have one, always an uncle, always a friend, and always trying to fatten me up with carne guisada.

I want to write about my first real funeral experience. How I don’t want to put my family through a viewing, a rosary, a second viewing, a terribly long and mournful ceremony, and on and on… Catholics just can’t get enough of the whole drawn-out sadness, huh? No thank you. Give everyone a tiny bit of my ashes to toss on their next cool vacation and throw a BBQ where everyone has to wear yellow and share a hilarious story about me. Something like that. No priest who had never even heard of me and no hail Marys.

I want to write about seeing all the familiar faces of my childhood. All the Mendez’s whom I’ve grown up without, who kinda look like me, who are kinda crazy like me. I want to write about how strange it was for my dad to be there, the best shoulder to cry on, amongst all of his wife’s ex-husband’s familia. I want to write about how weird it was to realize that he was closer to Uncle Chuck than my real father was, who didn’t even show up. And how Mom, not even part of Aunt Gigi’s family any more at all, is like her daughter—the one Aunt Gigi asks for help going to the bathroom.

But mostly, I want to write about how amazing Uncle Chuck was. I’ve never met anyone more selfless. I don’t think I ever witnessed him doing something solely for himself. He always talked about wanting to play guitar and travel the world, but he never did it. He bought a guitar, but spent all his time putting in hours at the courthouse or tending to the yard or cooking Mexican food better than any gringo I’ve ever met.

When I was little, if I wanted French fries from McDonald’s, a bean and cheese from Taco Cabana, and a soda from the gas station, he would go to all three without question. If I wanted to stop and see the cows, he would pull over and “Moooooo!” with me for as long as I wanted. And best of all, he would let me do his hair!

He was that guy who was constantly offering and giving—do you want a beer? Do you need advice? Do you need gas money? Do you want to take these 10 pounds of leftover rice and beans so you don’t have to cook for weeks? No Uncle Chuck, no, no, no thank you!

I will miss saying no to all those things, Charles Gordon. I will miss your wrinkly kisses on my cheek, the familiar sight of you in a plain white t-shirt (the only thing he ever wore), and your dirty jokes that were always unexpected and always hilarious. I will miss Aunt Gigi yelling your name and watching you ignore her in the most creative ways. I will miss your big, droopy ears and how easy you were to shop for (house slippers, every year). I will miss sometimes saying yes to the rice and beans and I will miss you, Uncle Chuck, so, so, so incredibly much.

Living with the Rents

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To those of you living with your mummy and daddy…

Ah, living at home. It’s like a breath of fresh air, a complete comfort, a vacation…IN HELL. Yes, I have recently moved in with my parents after two years of living on an island thousands of miles away from them. So yes, my transition from distanced paradise to a room decorated by Mom is a bit more of a struggle than some other people have had to face.

Let me also make it clear that this situation is temporary. Just another month and I’ll be unpacking in my Austin apartment with my best friend.

But how do I survive another month?! How will I survive another week?!

No one who has lived on their own should ever, EVER have to move back in with the rents. And while I’m on that note, if you’re over the age of 21 but still have a roommate that pushed you out of her vagina, MOVE OUT! I understand that there are certain financial dilemmas that set some people back. But for the love of Netflix, I’d be flippin’ burgers all day every day if it meant my own closet-sized casa—do what you gotta do!

And don’t give me that “my parents are actually really cool” bullcrap. No one’s parents are that cool. Cool enough to have dinner with and laugh at a movie together? Sure. Cool enough to combine whites when it’s laundry day? THAT IS NOT COOL, THAT IS SAD.

If you are living with the parentals, let me give you some fantastic reasons to get the hell outa there as fast as you can:

  1. If you have your own place, you can bring dates home (for a glass of wine or to get laid, wherever your mind went with that…let it wander). I really don’t need any more reasons after this, am I right? But I do have many other reasons.
  2. You can be as messy as you want without ever hearing, “You know, it’s really not that hard to…”
  3. You can sleep as late as you want without your mom barging in and proclaiming loudly that, “It’s almost TEN!”
  4. You can be gone all night, all weekend, or all month without the SWAT team being called.
  5. You can choose what’s in your fridge and pantry…whether that means you can choose to go on a diet and be away from all your parents’ greasy, buttery, fat-filled foods (nomnom but cellulitecellulite) or it could mean that you can choose to eat ramen and fruit roll-ups all day without hearing any lectures.
  6. Alcohol. Smoking. All things sinful. Ah, the freedom to kill brain cells. I miss it.
  7. Set the damn AC to whatever damn degree you damn well please.
  8. The TV will belong to you. The remote will belong to you. Basically, the universe is yours.
  9. Any bad decision that you want to make, any horrible idea at all—you can do it without them ever even knowing… Paint your walls neon yellow, buy a pet cobra, cover every window with Adam Levine posters, break the dryer and be too cheap to fix it so you have to hang clothes all over the house, have an indoor water balloon fight, throw a massive party that ends in total destruction… You have permission…because you can give yourself permission (note: you will also probably not get your deposit back).
  10. Not living with your parents means you can avoid arguments about a) politics b) life choices c) deer overpopulation (OK, this one might not be so general). When you live on your own, you can strategically avoid arguing with your parents completely. Or strategically avoid your parents, period, ha.

I will hopefully survive the next month in this rehab-like institution, thanks to the dog (I do love the dog), the gym, and frequent nights out. But sweet baby Jesus, I can’t wait to visit the folks instead of sleeping down the hall from them. I encourage you to get out before it’s too late! Every day that you live under the same roof as those who birthed you, you lose one coolness point. I was born with a LOT of points, so I’ll be fine, but you might not be as lucky.

P.S. My parents are pretty much my top two blog fans soooo…about that….love you guys!