Thursday, February 11, 2010

Reflections from a Mother's Heart

I'm going to try this again. Back on June 5, 2008 I attempted to start a weekly post every Thursday using a journal I found many years ago called Reflections from a Mother's Heart - Your Life Story in Your Own Words.

Each page asks a different question for you to ponder and write your thoughts about. So far I've answered eight questions.

1. Who gave you your name and why? Did you have a family nickname? How did you get it? 

2. Describe your childhood bedroom. What was the view from your window?

3. Were you baptized or dedicated as an infant? If so, where and by whom?

4. Where did you first go to church? What are your earliest memories of church?

5. Where did your father go to work every day and what did he do?

6. How did your mother spend her day? Did she have a job or do volunteer work outside the home?

7. What kind of prayer did you say before you went to sleep? Who taught you how to pray it?

8. Describe what the family living room looked like when you were a child.

It seems that I was all prepared to answer question number nine; Describe your grandparents houses. Did you visit them often? Why or why not? That was the one I was going to work on for January 29, 2009. Oh my gosh, it's been a whole year and I haven't done one. I'm a bad heart reflector as a mother aren't I?

Well if at first you don't succeed, try again right? So here goes. The question for this Thursday. . .  

Describe your grandparents houses. Did you visit them often? Why or why not?

When I was a child, I remember my dad saying that he had paid vacations. I took that to mean he got a vacation that his boss paid for. I didn't understand he only got paid for the days, I thought it meant my dad's boss would pay for any kind of vacation he wanted to take. Therefore I wanted to go to Disneyland or Hawaii! I never understood why my dad would choose to take us instead to visit my Tata and Nana at their home in Santa Maria, California!
Funny how a child's mind works isn't it? 

My paternal grandparents were known to us as Tata and Nana. Every summer we would visit Tata and Nana for a week. I remember two separate homes they lived in. When I was very young I remember they lived out in the country on a farm. It was a big, beautiful home with a gorgeous garden. Coming from Arizona where we saw nothing but dirt and cactus I loved the flowers and plants that my Nana loved to grow. Her special favorite was Geraniums. Deep, rich, red Geraniums.

The home I most remember was the last one they lived in. That one was in town and was just a regular tract home, but still my Nana made it her own with beautiful Geraniums and rose bushes everywhere in the front yard. In the back yard my Tata planted what seemed like one of every fruit tree known to man, and both Tata and Nana had very green thumbs!

Because we lived in Arizona and they lived in California I didn't experience their homes very often and the memories are vague, but I remember them... my Nana and my Tata. People tell me I look like my Nana and I've always loved hearing that because my Nana was always very beautiful and always smiling. My Tata was a joy, a man you couldn't help but love and he loved and adored his grandchildren and his great grandchildren. 

My Tata once gave me the best piece of advice ever regarding my marriage. He knew about the difficulties in my marriage and one day he pulled me aside and told me in Spanish, "Mija, hagase valer." Translated that means, daughter, give yourself value. After years of both physical and mental abuse it was just what I needed to hear and it is what helped me make the decision to end my marriage once and for all. I wanted my Tata to know that I had value, especially because I was his granddaughter.

Both Nana and Tata are both deceased and now my mom and dad are the Nana and Tata to my children and my sibling's children. But I'll never forget my Nana Elvira and my Tata Manuel.

My maternal grandparents were known as Papa and Mama and they lived in the grand town of Eloy, Arizona! They always only lived in the one home I remember, the home that was built by Papa Eustino who built it with his own hands, brick by brick. My mom can't remember exactly what year it was built but she said it was in the 1940's. 

Their home was like Disneyland to us kids. My mom had two brothers and seven sisters so that made for a whole bunch of cousins and it seemed to me that we were all always there. 

Both my uncles were labor contractors and they had buses; like the ones that kids go to school in. They used the buses to transport field workers to the fields. After work and on weekends the buses were parked in the back behind Papa and Mama's house and they were our playhouses, our forts, our space ships; whatever we could imagine them to be, they were.

Papa died when I was very young, probably around 10 or so. I don't remember much about him other than he was very tall and he would sit on the north side of the house in a chair and wipe our noses and spit into a coffee can. I don't know if he chewed tobacco or why he spit so much, but he did.

Mama lived much longer, but unfortunately she was struck by Alzheimers and the years I remember of her is of her being in a wheelchair and having to be fed and bathed and the constant crying and muttering. I wish I had known her better as my mother is named after her, Tomasa.

It's sad that we were all so young when they both passed and that I don't have better memories of them, but I have tons of memories of their home as that is where we spent almost every weekend and definitely every Christmas. Several years ago when my Aunt Leonor passed away I remember standing in that very living room where we spent so many Christmas' and I wondered in awe where we fit so many people in. The room itself was only about 18 feet by about 14 feet and there were two couches and a chair and yet we all fit...and so did Santa Claus!

I remember New Years Eve and staying up until midnight and all of us kids huddled up on the couch in front of the big window in the living room staring out into the front yard where our fathers and our uncles stood with rifles shooting the old year away by shooting into the sky. (I know that is frowned upon now, heck it's even against the law...but back then was a more innocent, ignorant time.)

I remember that living room was always filled with so much love and laughter. Maybe that's just my child mind as I'm sure there must have been heartache and sadness as well. But for me, they are all good memories.

So that's it...I finished another Reflection from a Mother's Heart. And it made me feel good to bring up all those memories. 

A happy childhood can't be cured.  
Mine'll hang around my neck like a rainbow, 
that's all, instead of a noose.  
~Hortense Calisher, Queenie, 1971

What do you remember of your grandparents living room? Their homes? What do you remember of your grandparents period?


  1. .I loved reading about your grandparents, Alicia! You had such a lovely childhood and I think you remember more than most people about when you were young. I wonder if it's because you had such a loving family!

  2. Alicia, what a beautiful story of your grandparents. So much love. My grandparents were gone to heaven before I was born or when I was very tiny, so I don't remember them at all. My children do have your same memories of my parents though, and it is such a blessing. Hope you have a very Happy Valentines. Hugs, Marty

  3. Aw ... I love this. I'm going to come back and write more after work. I have a lot of thoughts on this.



  4. Wow, thanks for sharing. What neat grandparents you have. It is interesting to me that when we were small we really remember our surroundings more then the people in them. Same for me< I hardly remember my grandparents, but I remember thier homes. How neat that your Tata helped you out at such a hard time in your life. Thanks for sharing your special memories!!!

  5. What a lovely post, Alicia! Both sets of grandparents sound like they've created wonderful childhood memories for you!
    I also have magical memories of my (maternal) grandparent's house...with all my cousins there. It was an old farmhouse (maybe late 1800's?) and we used to run around looking for hidden trap doors.


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