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The First Year of Marriage

Two Weddings

Con tanto alboroto about the “weddings” I keep thinking about me and my early days with my flaco. Asi es, weddings, we did it again, my familia is all about showing and telling. We were crazy enough to mas o menos duplicate Ben & Mo’s wedding and share that special day here in San Diego with our loved ones. The week was crazy busy and the reception was beautiful and sweet. I said to someone “I thought wedding bloopers only happened on the wedding day?” Pero, like I said we mimicked the full experience. And now that’s it, we really are done. The newest Mr. and Mrs. Greene have faced the stark naked reality of life and are on the highway of marriage bliss.

Meanwhile, I’ve been left to my musings, remembering our own first year of marriage.  

Baby Fever

Young and in love that’s what we were. I knew that together we would impact the world, and we have…I’m sure of it, somewhere out there. Before I knew it, baby fever hit me. I was delirious with thoughts that maybe I would never have a baby. I wanted to have a baby imediatamente!  My new husband was on board, ready to minister to me, pues si, como no? The plan had been to wait a couple of years and adjust to married life. I let my emotions get the best of me and pretty soon waiting felt like an eternity. Y sabes que? I didn’t even know if I liked kids, hijole! I really hadn’t thought about being a mother. The emotions were spilling over making a mess of everything, la verdad es que the birth control pills were causing chaos. I wanted to have Ben’s baby, now! Maybe there was something wrong? Maybe I would never ever experience pregnancy. What was taking so long? I mean, we had already been married for six months. I should go to the doctor, to find out what was wrong with me, other than birth control.

All In The First Year

Then, suddenly there was a brief moment in our eight months of married life that having a baby didn’t consume my heart. My ama was very ill and I was scared. I thought about not having my mother, did new wives face life without their ama? The doctor gave dad the dreaded news and gave him the ultimatum “Do you want to take her off life support?” Our family exploded and divided. It was a terrible decision my apa faced and we held our breath between arguments. But in the end, my dad didn’t have to make the decision, my ama helped him out and quietly took care of things, como siempre. I worried that maybe I wouldn’t see her again when I said goodbye at the graveside, but God reminded me of her heart and his care of her. I missed my ama, and Ben was there with me, holding me. After we buried her and I went home I tried to get on with my life, trying to mourn “correctly,” I couldn’t. I was feeling queasy and very tired, sleep is all I wanted. 

I went to the doctor and just like that, a new chapter in our lives began.

 Embarazada?! a baby in my womb, incredible!  pero, I didn’t feel anything, shouldn’t I be “feeling pregnant”? Y ahora qué? I wouldn’t see a doctor again for weeks! How would I take care of the baby? Should I be resting? I rushed home to wait for Ben to come home from work and tell him the news. It was the longest day of my life, before cell phones, before email for us or a computer at home. 

I was giddy with excitement, I wanted to share my news with my ama, y mis hermanas. I had to do it in order, Ben first. All the anxious waiting made me worry for the baby, maybe my accelerated heart rate wasn’t good for my baby?  I stood in front of the mirror and looked for visible change in my body. No, that pansa wasn’t my baby, it was just that, my belly. I wondered how in the world there could be a baby in there? Amazing! another human being slowly or quickly, forty weeks, taking shape inside of my belly! 

Daily I stood in front of the mirror to admire my growing baby and pretty quickly I was rewarded with a baby belly, one of the ladies in church said it was just my belly. Talk about “bursting your bubble!” But I didn’t want to believe her, my bump was beautiful! I still didn’t feel or look different but I loved that growing bump. I was one of those lucky pregnant women who didn’t experience all the horrors of the first trimester, the few things I experienced were so minimal that I wondered if I was really pregnant, maybe I was just getting fat?  When I returned to the doctor I was embarrassed that I was there for a prenatal check up and I was probably not even pregnant!  The doctor asked me several questions, then he said “ok, let’s listen to the heart beat”  I laid back on the examining table and turned my face to the wall while he applied the cold jelly all over my abdomen, que verguenza, for sure now the truth was gonna come out; no baby in there!  I was holding my breath waiting for his decree. He allowed the wand to sit in one place as we heard the sound, over and over, swooshing air. Was it me? I turned to look at the doctor with a questioning look. “That’s the baby’s heartbeat.” My baby’s heart was strong and busy.  I was in love all over again.  I left that office, leaning back a little as I walked, well I was pregnant after all. At home I stood in front of the mirror, my normal side view gaze, the belly bump seemed a little bigger, I needed maternity clothes. What was that cream that had been recommended for stretch marks?  What would he look like? Would he look like his father? Would he look like a gringo? Or a Mexican? What should we call him? Claro que I just knew my first baby was a boy and I was barely even pregnant! But I was.

Grandbaby Fever

Back to the future, Ben and Mo don’t need a nagging mother whining for her portion.  I’ll have to suppress the urgent “grandbaby fever” spikes for as long as possible. The first year of marriage has so many changes packed into it, my reward will come just in time.

In Memory of Patty

I don’t want to remember that day I walked home from the library and heard Pattys voice on my answering machine. “Rosie, I’m here at Kaiser, I was admitted…”

I want to remember a sweet visit instead. A day we laughed and rejoiced at being together.

It was Thanksgiving and I was busy cooking. I’m always in the kitchen when the company is visiting. Several of us ladies, maybe my sister, maybe our dear friend Cecilia, Daniella for sure, were gathered in the dining room. As always the conversation headed to the “weight” room. Each of us whining about how difficult it is to lose weight. Quien sabe I might have been stuffing the turkey right about the moment. We had the menu lined up and I was busy getting it ready. We always talked about quick weight loss- which jumps right back on you the moment you turn your back. And laid out the wisdom of slow weight loss and establishing good habits. Pero, we rarely talked about an important component of this good kind of living which is Exercise 😬. Then Patty took over the conversation as we listened to her version of “How To Get Buns Of Steel” 

She said it was quite easy and could be done anywhere anytime! To prove it she stood up and demonstrated. She turned her back to everyone and faced me, I was in the kitchen dicing and slicing. She said “while you work there dicing just squeeze your butt cheeks and hold, release, then repeat” I did, it was too easy. “It’s that easy, ok let’s try it!” And there in my dining room, me in the kitchen, we stood squeezing, holding, holding, holding, then releasing, the repeating. The whole time we were working on making our buns of steel we were laughing out loud at how ridiculous we looked! Describing scenarios of our “exercise” while we stand in line at the bank or grocery store! Hijole! What would the person behind us think, especially if you are well endowed with plenty of butt to convert to steel 😁

En conclusión: 

Today marks 14 years since Patty, mi hermana, one of my besties went home before me. Now that I think about it, she was always late! My hope remains on the resurrection of Christ, for thru his sacrifice I can hope for reuniting…there we shouldn’t need to worry about flab in our new bodies 🥰

Que Dios los bendiga and give you a beautiful Sunday. 

A Love Story

All this wedding activity stirred me up for a love story. I went back and pulled up a story I pieced together a few years ago from the fragment pieces of information that my apa and ama had shared through the years. One day as I was feeling muy romantica I asked my father “How did you meet my Ama?” He dropped this into my brain and heart:

En la Fiesta del Señor, le ofrecí una flor ye ella la acepto, y alli empezo” I melted with anxious desire to know more. When you offered that flower, who was she with? What’s La Fiesta Del Señor? What was she wearing? Y muchas mas preguntas, details that a girl needs to have. This story is grounded in facts but does have plenty of embellishments to tie it all in.  I can only imagine the hardship they experienced trying to make ends meet and the pain my ama suffered when dad came to America leaving her and the baby. I filled in the gaps to write their story.

Promesas

Maria ran inside breathless and Angel came zooming in behind her, bending down she lifted him up, Ugh! He was getting so big, nuzzling him, while she looked over at her husband’s picture on the small table she whispered “He’s coming home baby, Apa viene a casa.” She missed him so much, but Angel wasn’t affected by her news, he didn’t know the man in the picture. It was another reality that pointed to their “separate lives” marriage. She studied his handsome face and lean body, standing tall in his Levi Strauss  jeans and cowboy hat, looking tan Americano. It seemed like an eternity since he had left, worrying that he wouldn’t come back. She had spent too many days angry with her husband for leaving, but today, despite her fears, and his obvious change, she embraced the yearning she felt for him and allowed herself to remember how wonderful his full lips felt on her. She hugged her toddler tight, and whispered “you’re going to love your Apa” trying to stop the memory of the day he had left. 

***

“No llores”. He hated her tears.

 “Chuy, We talked about this. I need to feed my family and I need money to do that. I must go. En el otro lado, I’ll make lots of money and then come home quickly, before you know it!” 

 “Por favor no te vayas. Think of your hijo” Maria clung to him, hoping that duty to his son would keep him home with her.

“I’m not leaving you like that! Comprendeme, I need to go? My mother will help you with the baby” He pulled her close.

“You don’t have to leave Manuel, I will work”

 He stiffened at her words and pulled her away from him.

 “You work too hard, too long, too much. Look at you, you’re pale, you’re too thin, and the dark circles under your eyes accuse me. What kind of a man am I to allow this?

“Oh, I see.” She hugged herself trying to hide her unattractiveness from him.

“I should have left a long time ago, then I would already be back with plenty of dólares to sustain us. I’ll send money, I promise you will not have to work so hard.” 

“No Manuel, don’t leave. I promise to take better care of myself. You’ll have better eyes for me, please don’t leave. I don’t care if everyone else is living like this. I hate seeing families separate! Wives are forgotten while husbands go off to chase dolares  and who knows what else!”

“I’ll return quickly, te lo prometo” He reached for her but she turned and ran to the bathroom. His promise of a quick return pierced her while she vomited her breakfast and crumbled to the floor, holding her abdomen. Their family was growing and he was leaving. Receiving a letter meant his prolonged stay, yet not receiving a letter provoked such worry in her. What if he got ill? What if he decided not to come home?

***

Querida Chuy,

I hope you and Angel are well. I am now situated in a small room in Mexicali, Baja California, tomorrow I will look for more work on the other side, the gringos are always looking for strong help so it has been easy to get work and make money. There is plenty of work, I’ll be able to make a lot of money. Hace mucho calor! The heat is almost unbearable, pero me aguanto!  knowing that you and Angel need me I will endure this inferno. The money I’ve sent should cover all the household expenses for a while.  Como esta mi hijo? Tell him that I love him, saludos a tu familia. 

Que Dios te bendiga, te lo desea

Manuel

***

At first she had been too angry to tell him about the pregnancy. After the morning sickness had passed, she was well and so was their son. Life didn’t change much for Angel, he had quickly adopted her oldest brother; Chino as his dad and life was peachy for him. Gracias a Dios that she had him to fill her days. The baby safely grew in her womb and she yearned for her husband. She reminded herself often “He said he would come back” Maybe, telling him about the second baby would prompt him to return quickly and be with her when her time came. She wrote him a letter hoping it would arrive quickly, there wasn’t much time. 

 Her  heart was broken when she went into labor, she received a letter and more money to sustain them comfortably, but no mention of the baby. Alone she welcomed their second son and called him Arturo.

***

Eventually a letter did reach him in the Sierra Nevada mountains. His patron needed a sheep herder and he needed to keep working. A numbingly cold and lonely job, just him, the horse, Kazam the dog and the sheep in the cold outdoors. The patron had brought supplies and mail, he was ready for news from home. A letter from his wife and mother, good news he hoped. Que?! “Manuel estoy embarazada” Maria wrote that she was pregnant, But his mother had said in her letter “El niño y Chuy are just fine but come as soon as you’re able” Un hijo?! 

***

 “Apa, Apa” Angel clapped his chubby hands “Tío, mi apa!” Angels enthusiasm brought her back, “No, baby, your uncle is not your daddy. Your daddy is coming back from El Norte very soon, maybe today you’ll meet him again” she pressed on her breast as they filled with milk, “He’s coming back! And you and your baby brother will have apa home!” Angel laughed as she twirled him around, “Our family will be together again, everyone will see that we were not abandoned. She stopped abruptly in front of her broken mirror “Wow! I’ve changed so much too”  

She put her son down and touched her head, so much of her hair had fallen out during her pregnancy. Her body was still flabby from her labor and delivery. her skin pale from lack of sleep, she wondered what Manuel would think of her now. She pulled on her face, peering into the mirror piece “ aayy! que fea estoy. Ugly!” She accused the image just as Arturo wailed for his lunch, her hands flew to her breast, she winced at how hard they got if she waited too long to nurse the baby. She hesitated, looking again into her broken mirror, if Manuel walked in right now, he would notice her full rounded breast, maybe that wasn’t so bad. Beauty would have to wait again, her boys were hungry. The baby wailed demanding to be nursed and Angel pulled on her skirt, asking for a taco, he too was hungry. Manuel was coming soon and she had to do something about herself, she said to the mirror piece ”I’ll be back and maybe you’ll help me see the areas I can work on.” She ran to get a tortilla for Angel and then picked up her screaming baby. While the baby gurgled at her breast she sighed ready to end this separation and the anxiety it produced. 

She remembered her mother in-laws inability to understand her. It didn’t matter that young wives and their babies were being abandoned at epidemic proportions, while young husbands imagined streets paved with dolares. Did Manuels mother think her anxieties were unfounded? Dona Rosario was confident that her son would be loyal to his family and return as soon as he was able.  It was Marias job to care for the boys and make a nice home for them with his money. She hated when Maria wasted money, and the mirror had been a waste. 

 “Why do you need a mirror Maria? You need to be wise with the money my son sends you.” “Pero, Doña Rosario, how am I supposed to keep myself beautiful for your son if I can’t see what I look like? “No buts Maria, don’t waste money, you need to worry more about Angel and the baby that will be here soon” “No señora I need it so that if Manuel returns I will have maintained myself” She was careful all the way home, then Angel raced out to meet her and when the mirror slipped to the ground it broke in two pieces, with no time to regret it, she swooped her toddler up and took him inside so she could pick up her mirrors.

She looked into the mirror as she burped her baby, “Doña Rosario was right, Manuel is coming home and you, Mirror Mirror you really didn’t help, but you certainly taunted me every time you pointed out how unraveled I’ve been. She adjusted her dress and planted a kiss on Arturo’s cheek. 

She got busy with the meager meal, glad that soon they would eat more than frijoles,  she was tired of beans. She poured the last of the lard into the hot pan and waited for it to get hot then poured the beans into it. They sizzled then splattered, spitting on to her cheek, “Owww!” she hissed and turned to her mirror piece and it seemed to laugh at her with her red blotchy cheek.  She sighed and was glad when her toddler  took the plate of beans with such gusto, as if she had served him a steaming hot bowl of pozole, the hominy chicken soup was his favorite. She smiled and hoped that there would be enough tortillas to satisfy her growing boy. She knew Manuel had not left her to chase a dream, but to take care of them. When Manuel came they had too much business to attend to, her appearance shouldn’t matter now, but again she glanced in the mirror piece “Oh no! Now I’ll have a scar! She should get rid of that accusing glass! Tears of anxiety squeezed from her eyes as much as she was determined not to cry over such vanities. Worry marked her face as Angel ran to her and asked “Mama? Coco?” And reached up for her. “Si, Angel, just a little owie” she hugged him as a tear rolled down her face, Manuel was coming home, he promised.

Manuel walked in, quietly watching his wife and son. Angel looked up and snapped “NO! Swinging at the stranger as he clung to his mother. “Amor, que te pasa?” Maria looked up wondering what was wrong as her son’s anxiety accelerated “No, no!” Maria swung around and there stood her beautiful husband, he looked like a dark American under his cowboy hat, his blue jeans and boots.  She shrunk back anxious, noticing the American in him and his presence reminded her that she was quite undone. While Angel swung to protect his mother from the stranger she slowly took in how good he looked.  Manuel reached for the screaming toddler, murmuring his name. “Angel, Mi hijo” Angel screamed in terror “Amaaa!” Maria smiled, “Ya mi amor, ya. There There She said between tears, “Es tu papa” Manuel quickly closed the gap and embraced them both. There in his arms Maria let the tears of relief roll down her cheeks, slumping her shoulders, she allowed Manuel to take care of his family. 

Mother of the Groom Wedding Week Recap

Emery’s Wedding Season

This wedding season has ended for us and the younger Ben has stepped into his “husband shoes”. My head is still spinning at this reality, soy suegra de tres, hijole! I hope I can share the wedding season days and the wedding day with you and not be all over the place.

Wedding Planning

The weeks prior to the wedding we discussed in detail all the big parts and the minute details of the ceremony and reception. We were covering all our bases, we all had our assignments. It felt weird helping to plan from far away, definitely out of our comfort zone. A groomsman had to step out of his attending duties to attend to his very pregnant wife. Okay, Emery made an adjustment. Meanwhile, we figured out how to cut expenses with DIY projects, and the supplies for decor that we were bringing were set apart ready to be packed. Life in San Diego was so calm for us, unnaturally calm. The glitches and problems in projects were solved. Projects were complete and boxed. The Monday before the wedding burst into our lives and we had only to get through the maze of preparations for the trip. This shouldn’t be a surprise to you and I’m not trying to scare the upcoming wedding planners, pero, every last minute detail from the flowers being ready for pick up five days too early, to the macarons not being perfectly shaped, hit a bump.

Monday- My dress needed an easy tailoring fix and I took it to my dear friend who stepped right in to help me. Pero no fue fácil. I had to run to the fabric store, she couldn’t go herself. Thank God for facetime and good courteous help at the store. La senorita helped me find a certain kind of lace for a proper adjustment. The clock was ticking, I had my hair appointment at noon. A three hour slot for color, with lowlights and haircut. This was to be a tribute to my sister Patty who would have  been with me, but couldn’t. Ves, she always wanted me to do the highlights in my hair but I just never wanted to, somehow this ocasión seemed right to me. Patty was extra as far as a good presentation and this middle child of mine is too. Pero, after all that work, the lowlights in my hair were so low they weren’t visible! When I looked real hard I sort of saw a different color splash. I was so nervous about the change that she had been quite conservative with the “lowlights” . The hairdresser, my friend said, “well at least it softens and adds texture to your hair.” Not being too savvy about good hair or bad hair I smiled and said that my hair looked nice, y vamonos, to the next task.

Then in my fresh new cut and color I rushed over to Emery’s new place. He asked his Tia Sandra and I if we could make his place look clean, cozy and inviting for when he brought his wife home. Hijole! We did, because Emery is that child that asks and receives.

Ahora si I could zoom over to see about my dress. That night was filled with chores and errands.

Tuesday was for my much needed manicure and pedicure. I’m embarrassed to admit that usually it takes a special occasion or a trip to get me to do this much needed grooming. When you’re an abuela, the hang nails are overlooked and the arrugas might be appreciated. But for a soon to be mother in law to be, hijole my hands and feet also needed a complete makeover. Of course we made an occasion of it  and got together to do this, I was feeling pretty good as I looked down at my freshly done toes, que bonita. Derrepente, the pressure of responsibility changed for me when Cita, my niece, announced, “I’m handing over the ring to you, don’t let it leave your side, don’t forget to bring it and do be careful with it.” Immediatamente after my pedi and mani  I went shopping for a different cross body purse. 

Wednesday we were loaded up and on the road to Washington. Eighteen hour drive? No problem. “Sense and Sensibility” was not making much sense as I drove and listened at 1am. While Ben rested, or slept with not too much rest. Ouch! Oooh! Hijole! Twenty hours later we had arrived, we were ready to face the onslaught of work upon arrival to Everett WA. Ready to organize the wed…ding…zzzzz.

Ahora si, after some rest we could tell the wedding trolls “bring it on!” Rehearsal dinner, bouquets, boutonnieres, centerpieces and baked penne ala mexicana- all done with that purse on my body or at least very watchful eyes on it. Here’s a good place to mention that a 2nd groomsman had to step out of his wedding duties, having just been married himself, it was too much. Heavy sigh, it wouldn’t stop Emery. Luego, somewhere right smack in the middle of the rehearsal dinner, Cita did it again! She hands me the grooms ring and says “Rosie, you’ve got to hold on to this ring too, it’s Emery’s ring!” Ring duty was stressful. I’m still wary every time I put my purse down! El anillo! Que trauma! 

Bride and Groom at the Rehearsal Dinner

Y aun asi,  despite all our energy, enthusiasm and preparedness, life happened, those trolls snuck in. All those expected and unexpected bloopers happened. Like a building up of a great wave to ride, that last week of things to do and the anxious expectation of big changes, and the oopses piled up like a holding wall.

Sunday morning showed up bright eyed and bushy tailed. We were up by 5am and out in the car by 5:45am, a thirty minute drive to the venue with not an ounce of coffee in us, but the adrenaline was moving us into action.

Wedding Day Set Up Crew

We were the wedding party/ set up crew, with the groom right there setting up with us. Her church fam and our out of town guests were there ready and willing to help make the wedding day beautiful. Y así fue, It was a beautiful day lined with sweet moments. I did feel those bloopers though. “I thought you were doing that?” and “Did anyone bring scissors? A knife? Trashbags? Hay! What would become of this reception?!  I ran around here and there at the beautiful Blue Boy West Golf Course and Event Center like I knew what I was doing. The only thing I really knew was that my boy was getting married. After a while I went upstairs to the dressing room where the bride and her entourage were getting ready. Bam! I walked into one of the things that scares me most, getting all dressed up and glamourous, who was I kidding! All this girly glamy stuff made me want to run, córrele Rosalba! Then, in the far end of the room was my soon to be daughter In-law.

Em’s Mo

I peered into her morning makeover, in this case it might be more appropriately called a “natural beauty enhancement.”  Monique is a natural beauty. Her family calls her Nikki, she prefers Mo as a nickname and I have taken to calling her Ems Mo. She sat there sweet, innocent and beautiful. I felt her nervousness. I wondered about the Jewish beauty, Queen Esther in the ancient days. She had a whole team preparing her to meet the king. My son solo es un príncipe 🥰

I took a couple of blurry pictures with my ancient IPhone 7 of this beautiful girl, then went to get my dress on.

Did I mention that my friend fixed it and I was comfortable and felt pretty when I was all done up, hair, makeup, jewelry and shoes?

Ben, mi hijo, was ready to get his first peek at his bride. Up until this point I had kept it all together, not allowing the threat of changes to steal my peace.  When I looked upon my ‘Lil Em,” so grown up, a man ready for his bride, my resolve cracked a bit. I went up to him, and gave him my informal blessing and told him how much I knew God was in this whole wedding and marriage. I couldn’t hold back the admonishment that he should make sure to take good care of this beautiful wife God helped him find, a treasure indeed. We hugged and I prayed and I held back the tears. I was so proud to be that man’s momma.

I know my big sis is proud of him too. I wish again I could share the pics with my ama and my sisters in heaven, they too will be just as happy for him. Por su puesto que his tata would remind him “El que se casa, casa quiere” He who is getting married (casa) must be looking for a home (also casa) of his own. (sorri, en espanol it makes total sense) And I could almost hear my apa saying “Echale ganas!”

The Other Mr. and Mrs. Benjamin Greene

This young couple gave all the glory to God for this moment in their lives. The flower girls were sweet little peas and the wedding boy basked in the wedding day, es que, he too loves Ems Mo.

The bride’s daddy held on to his princess as he walked her down the aisle and prepared to give her away. Senior Ben, yikes! Read a beautifully written prayer/blessing for his son from his heart. Just before the vows, the song; Growing Old With You  was executed beautifully, con mis hijos y nuera and other church fam members performing on stage blessing the newest Greene pareja. After the I dos, Emery reached for his wife hungrily! The pastor announced Mr. and Mrs. Benjamin Greene, and the senior Benjamin Greenes, that would be me and my flaco had to resist the urge to stand amidst the cheers and clapping, the other Benjamin Greene and his wife walked triumphantly down the aisle. 

The Reception:

At a Greene celebration you will most likely find my salsa, we can’t have it no other way. Rosie’s salsa and chips to hold you over until the Taco cart ensemble is ready to serve. That sounded muy fancy, but those street tacos were as Emery and Thomas would say “fire!”

My baby, el Thomas, was the very best man! Y, in his unique stilo shared his heart about his love for his brother with the guests. Luego, his big brother Jonathan, spoke such beautiful words and blessings over his brother. Mi hija is so happy to be gaining another sister. Ben, the very fresh husband, sang a song to his new bride. y lo digo again, I am so glad God made me their Ama. In a whirl they went away under the sparklers. Pero, a warning: make sure you buy the right sparklers to prevent an accident. We had a close call.

En Conclusion: The Greene’s didn’t always “keep cool” but Jesus was among us and God’s peace sustained us throughout the season. Daniella was a great wedding coordinator. Mo and  her team did a beautiful job decorating at the church, did I mention that the rough gruff groomsmen had to pitch in and do their share of creativity with those centerpieces? They did a great job and everything looked beautiful. Hopefully Daniella will share some wedding day pictures with you. I’ll say this, a beautiful couple for sure. Felicitaciones a Mr and Mrs. Benjamin Emery Greene y que Dios los Bendiga siempre.

  The Wedding Day Approaches

Solo ocho dias. 8 days to go till I lose my hijo, not really, but yes really. My little Emery is gonna be a husband in one short week, a twinkling of an eye! Pero, wait! Are we ready? Of course I was ready for marriage. I was a very mature 22 year old bride to be. Everything for Ben and I was gonna be perfect. This young Ben is ready to fly, and all I can do is pray. I’m not ready.

The Wedding Vows:

I kinda want to sit him down, like a time out and make him read his vows and ponder on them and feel them, I did just that, as I pictured his handsome face looking into his bride’s eyes, bright and yearning.

“I, Benjamin Emery Greene take thee, ___to be my wedded wife (su mujer, Hijole! Is all that I will allow myself to think and write) to have and to hold from this day forward, (Oh God give him the wisdom, the passion, the grace to cleave to his beautiful girl always) for better, (Dios mio, let there be muchos “for better” days) for worse, (and please, oh please give my hijo strength enough for both of them when “the worse” days show up, maybe I should warn him, that they do up sometimes unexpectedly, and other times our foolishness invites them) for richer, (Asi es! Gods blessing pressed down, shaken together and overflowing! We do have a generous Father)  for poorer, (Hijole! Let this young couple learn to have joy even when Starbucks is out of the budget)  in sickness and in health, (Dios mio cuida a mi hijo y a su mujer, oh that my grandchildren would also thrive :D) to love and to cherish, till death do us part, (Jesus draw them always to you and each other, that they may grow old together) according to God’s holy ordinance; and thereto I pledge thee my faith.”

The Check List

Y por su puesto that my brain is exploding with all the details that can easily be forgotten. Conversations that seem random, but they’re not. De veras, they matter, I never really touch the real check list.

Me: Daniella, did they remember the plates for the appetizers?

Daniella: I’ll check

 Me: What do you think of using this scripture? Proverbs 18:22 “He who finds a wife finds a good thing and obtains favor from the Lord” 

Daniella: I’ll make a sign with it.

Me: I’m gonna change the menu again. I am not comfortable making  “Pasta al limone”  I know Colleen says it’s easy, but I’m not used to following a recipe. You know how I cook, I tweaked it before I could get through with it, it was ok. Thomas liked it. Cita said it needed more lemon and it needed to be saucier. I’m not comfortable.  I’m gonna do Mexican. I’ll make enchiladas, verdes y rojas. Pero…

Daniella: Mom, just make your pasta bakes, you’re comfortable with those. 

Me: Yes, ok I’ll do that instead. We need to figure out the appetizer table. 

This conversation is getting more and more involved and tangled as the day gets closer. Y, the conversation with self is also endless. I wonder if my dress is ready yet? I’m glad I found shoes. I can’t believe that on Tuesday will be our last opportunity to sit at the dinner table together, asi es, our last time with Emery as a single man, mi hijo is going to the altar of marriage, que voy hacer? I just heard my daughter’s words again “Mom you have other children” Ya se, ya se, I haven’t lost a son, he’s not cutting me out of his life, but I kinda feel that loss right now as I’m also hearing my older sons words after Daniella was married “So how’s life without the princess in the house?” Bofetada! Hijole that transition was too hard for me. I’ll talk about the rehearsal dinner instead.

Rehearsal Dinner

Primeramente,  who instituted these edict rules such as a fancy “wedding rehearsal dinner” U yu yui, De veras? What stress just before the big day, but I guess it’s nice to say thanks to all hands that help make this day beautiful for the couple huh? According to the rules, it’s dinner for the wedding party, but with our church family, it’s all hands on deck! So our dinner party is much larger. Y mi hija, who is rich in creativity, is in DIY mode, she’s gonna make it beautiful, she only needs me to make it tasty and inviting, and I say, then let me cook Mexican food! Were having a nice Italian dinner, made by me, a strong latina woman. Breath Rosie, it’ll be delicious! Our family and friends, who will be gathered will love it, verdad que si? Because they love us. Relax, (what does that feel like?) the wedding is gonna be beautiful. 

En conclusion

There isn’t a conclusion, but I’ll keep you posted. I’ve gotta pack, I’ve gotta get my nails done and a petti. Mi hijo is getting married en ocho dias

A Kiss For Apa

I was having a conversation with someone just yesterday about her relationship with her mother and well, she sadly described her mother as manipulative. Pero esperate! As a mother, quickly I defended my fellow mother and said, “she just doesn’t want you to move and is glad for the extra time she’ll have with you, she’s gonna find the change difficult” Pero, the quick response was “No. She knows how to manipulate me and get her way” And what did I do? I pulled out my mothering portfolio. Asi soy yo? Do my kids see me like that… then it went to my marriage relationship. Do I use my words and feelings to manipulate? Hijole!

We carry into our new relationships so much baggage, so much old things, hidden things and sometimes we don’t even realize it. Relationships can take so many turns, verdad que si? Some relationships are easier to maneuver than others. Hijole! This sounds like a therapy session huh? Pero, I had a beautiful conversation with my sister this week, it was very therapeutic. She shared with me a beautiful memory and it turned out to be another puzzle piece in my own memories and conclusions of mi ama. I was so grateful for it, through my sister, my ama gave me a useful tool to use as I practice relationships. 

When I was 15 years old, I had stepped into some nasty reality. It felt gross  and I angrily formed judgments, from my perspective my parents weren’t doing things well at all! and our lives shouldn’t be affected negatively. I would take care of my own heart.  I built walls of protection, that weren’t much protection at all! They were ungrateful walls of pride and “stinking thinking” like my pastor says. Thankfully at 18 years old God drew me to him and his reality and He has carried me through the seasons of life. That was almost 4 decades ago and of course as I’ve entered into my own relationships I’ve understood and experienced some of the ugly realities of life. I’ve learned to push back against the lies and misconceptions, face the facts and use the freedom I have to make right and good choices for my life that will affect others.  I do not have to accept what the devil wants to throw at me, I do not have to conform to the ways of this world, even though I live here. 

As I continue to learn to learn and practice good healthy habits in relationships, I am ever grateful for those surprises of healing that come unexpectedly. 

As Marina and I were talking and comparing notes on how God speaks to us and shows us the concern he has for the littlest of details in our lives, we turned to talking about the most vulnerable and sometimes very difficult relationship we are experiencing, our marriage relationship. That relationship that God created for a man and a woman, God said that it was not good for man to be alone. Por supuesto que my latina, novela driven mind explodes at what that first meeting must have been like for the man and his wife. Eve, innocent, batting her lashes and Adam exploding at the gift? The responsibility? The journey? That lay before him. Anyway, back to my story.

As women we yearn to express so freely our love for our husbands, to tell them, to show them, but circumstances or history or baggage inhibit us. There we were on the phone talking about how hard it is to just be free to express our amor, then Marina said, “Don’t you remember the way my mom always kissed dad on the forehead?” Explosion in my head! Like a wrecking ball hitting a strong wall of pride. Y yo dije “What?! I don’t remember that? I never saw my ama kiss dad, never!” And Marina was surprised, because she saw it often. Como? How was it that I never saw that? Pero asi es, some memories stick more than others. For Marina all these years it has been something else she learned from our ama and now practices it and it pulls her through whatever wave wants to knock her down. When things are sticky and difficult. When walls of isolation want to stubbornly climb higher and higher, she’ll do like our ama did and look at her husband and while he’s busy, not even interrupting him, she goes over to him and kisses him on the forehead and it helps her.

I was humbled again at my mothers strength. I again appreciated her perseverance in the most difficult relationship she chose to maintain. I was happy that I could see beyond the “facts” and I told Marina that I too was going to use that kiss to break down a wall. I left that conversation so incredibly blessed for the kiss my ama gave me. 

The Counter Talk

Lately my family has been joking about having a podcast called “Counter Talk” In honor or our conversations around the kitchen counter. In our house, at the kitchen counter besides the food that gets put out for a gathering, there en el mostrador issues get pulled out, hashed out, dissected and either thrown out or left for another session. Nowadays it’s called “unpacking” with the good intention of calmly discussing a matter. Pero at the Greene home it’s more like something slipped out, or fell out. Ya sabes, when something is on our minds, we carry it with us, bouncing around our head very loosely y de repente! Bam, it’s on the kitchen counter. Aveces, one of us, usually Emery or myself will bring that heavyweight topic and purposely and not very gently place it on the counter, saying “This happened and I’m ticked!” 

What Does God Say About the Matter?

Through the years, Counter Talks have been therapeutic. We squeeze out every reaction, every feeling that comes forward because of ‘the issue,’ and we look for similar reactions from those at the counter. At the moment we don’t want to hear “What does God say about the matter?” Pero, pulling God into our counter talks makes them what they are; sometimes painful, beautiful, appreciated and refreshing. A veces, it’s one on one conversations but other times everyone at dinner is chiming in, contributing their thoughts to make sure all parts of the matter are viewed. While I’m on the kitchen side, working on something to serve, we are discussing a matter, and I will paint ‘the offender’ as maybe innocent or at the very least their intentions had no malice behind them, come on, they were not trying to hurt. It gets dicey when the conclusions come to:

“Let it go” Do nothing. God will make it right in the end, pero waiting for healing to come is so hard. Then there’s the other conclusion, You can’t just let it go, you’ve got to talk to that person, not about the person. You’ll have to ‘confront’ the matter and deal with it. Hijole! It can be dramatico, what if it ends a friendship? What if… All of this comes out at the counter.

When The Kids Grow Up

Nunca pense, that one day my kids would be “painting the bigger picture” at the kitchen counter. El otro dia, mi hijo was on my side of the kitchen counter?! While he ate his slice of chocolate cake and ice cream he said things like “Mom like you have always said” or “You taught us this” and he pulled God right into the matter! Luego, when we left the counter I received a text from my baby, ya se, he’s 20 and all grown up, his text reminded me that God’s gifts are worth fighting for. I laid in bed amazed at how much my kids hope in Jesus and despite their youth I was able to receive their gifts of encouragement and their challenges to believe God in the matter. 

En Conclusion

Este mes has been a hard month for me, I’ve wanted to run away, but that takes too much work, so I considered just crawling into bed to sleep “it” off and I have tried it, not sure if it helped. It’s been a month overflowing with every imaginable feeling surfacing and in me no strength to stop them from strutting. When Thomas, mi baby, sent that encouraging text he mentioned a “season of winter”  Hijole! I’m so very thankful for the support God has given me, winter is my least favorite season. Pero, I  am pleasantly and gratefully surprised that the support included my very own children.

Psalms 127:3 has taken a fuller, deeper meaning in my soul. “Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord. The fruit of the womb is a reward” (NKJ)

Wedding Day Details

Just 30 days left of Wedding plan for my son and his girl. Just 30 days for his sister, the unofficial and untitled wedding planner to fuel their wedding day dream, with untried creativity. Thirty more days for the rest of us to help or meddle. Pero, la verdad es que all the detallitos, those little embellishments confound me. I mean, how critical is it that the utensils be ensembled a particular way?  I am working hard at NOT letting other details arrest me. Por ejemplo,  it’s my third child getting married, no big deal verdad? I’m already wearing the mother in law shoes. I know mi hijo won’t forget me. I hope that this strong latina suegra won’t scare his sweet girl. I’m praying that when life settles down he’ll put me in the right place in his heart and with his wife in his arms, I’ll enjoy the newest San Diego Greene couple. 

As the day draws closer and closer I’m stepping back in my own wedding planning or lack of it. Ahora si, now that I’m an abuela, an ‘old married lady’ I have my opinion. Can anyone hear me? Will it matter now? My stomach is jittery again and I’m wondering how’s Ems beautiful girl is handling the wedding planning.

During Engagement:

When I was engaged, I wasn’t sure how I was supposed to behave. I had a ring on my finger, but no date and my “husband to be” was out to sea. I was a busy fiancé writing love letters  to my comprometido, telling him my woes of singleness. I was keeping busy accepting any dinner invite my lonely heart received and as I consumed the delicious tostones and arroz con habichuelas that my Puerto Rican friends offered I put aside the wedding plans for mañana.

Covered in Questions:

At church, at work, with friends, y con la familia the questions buried me and my engagement ring.

“Do you have a dress? Where are you looking? Do you know what style you want? Have you tried on some dresses? Y sabes que, I’ve been getting those same questions again! And I’m just the mother of the groom.

“Who’s your maid of honor? Bridesmaids? Flower girl? Ring bearer? What colors will you be using? I thought white was the only color I needed, ya se, ya se, pobrecita Rosie…I still don’t have a favorite color! Y! Back in those days there was no beautiful little girl or boy, like my grandchildren that captured my heart to crown them flower girl and ring bearer. Maybe I was remembering the uncooperative flower girl I had been.

Where are you getting your flowers? Who’s making your cake? Where’s the reception? What’s on the menu? Did you find a photographer?  Always my answer was “I don’t know”

The Things in Miss Rosalba’s Head

Despite the mountain of  “I don’t knows” the things that worried me were:

Will my familia be there? I was stepping into uncharted waters, marrying outside of mi gente and my wedding was outside of the family’s tradition. Would my ama come to my wedding? I worried that my apa wouldn’t give me away. 

What was Ben’s mother gonna really think of me? My heart trembled, “Oh God, help me”

I needed to figure out how to make a wedding invitation that would embrace both of our heritage. Spanglish was just me and besides it was too uncouth. Although in reality it would have fit right in with my unplanned wedding day details. In the end I chose two completely different styles, English and Spanish. I’m not sure if I asked for advice or ignored it. 

What was I going to focus on when I gave my testimony during the ceremony? Oh I worried that I wouldn’t get the whole beautiful story of redemption across. 

On My Wedding Day:

Mira lo que sigue conmigo, I was unused to too much makeup, and I felt overdone with eyeshadow, ya se ya se. 

My testimony was wordy, did anyone get the revelation that I was a new creation in Christ?

I shared my first meal with my Benjamin, fried chicken and potato salad. I was hungry! I thought brides were too full of butterflies to feel hunger, of course I would be different!

Ben shocked me when we cut the cake, he smeared frosting on my face! And guess what? I couldn’t do it back to him!

My parents gave me their blessing and my apa represented them both on my wedding day. Ama was physically unable to attend, and it broke her heart. My apa was nervous, but his proud regal Zepeda stance sustained him as he stood with me that day. His sister, my faithful Tia Chepina and her family came to my wedding, something I’m forever grateful for. My apas brother, Tio Chuy was there too. He and his wife, my quirky Tia Cuca always appreciated that I included them into my life. My sisters, pillars in my support system were there, making sure they encircled me with protection as I ventured into this voyage. 

Me acuerdo, that the drive up the mountain to see my ama at the hospital was long and winding. I sat next to mi esposo and apa sat in the back seat. Hijole! Was it ok to hold his hand? 

If I Could Do It Over:

What would I do differently if I had the knowledge I have now? Probably everything would change! Pero, so many other little things, seemingly unimportant things remain in my heart, those things for sure I wouldn’t change.

In the fire of wedding planning so many things happen, and so many things are dropped. So much explosive emotions and countless offenses can happen. The best thing I can do for Ems girl is pray for her peace. Emery knows I’m here to help, y gracias a Dios, he’s not hesitating to ask for it.  

Que Dios los Bendiga, with his hedge of protection and peace on these last 30 days of wedding planning.

Ama Heard Me Crying

I was having a quiet moment with my daughter, por supuesto que we were talking about very important matters, when her ears perked up, I could see in her face that she was making a calculation about something in her head. Then as I heard my grandbaby crying, her youngest son who’s not so baby, she put her attention back to our conversation. I had already put on my “Ama al rescate” cape. I was ready to rescue him. I said “Don’t you hear?” She calmly responded “yes, but I can tell he’s not hurt, they’ll work it out” A pos si! I’d forgotten that a mother can recognize and distinguish the different alarms her child sounds. And usually she knows when to run to him, or when he’s safe and he must figure it out. Hijole! I was all tangled up in my “rescue cape” Don’t get me wrong, I know moms (me) who have missed the cry for help or were too slow, but God helped us. Thankfully, in todays story, my Ama arrived to pull Fernando out of his mess!

The American Dream

Para mi familia, coming to “El Norte” was a slow process that began in Mexicali Baja California, a border city. This is where many other  immigrants began their pursuit of the “American Dream. My apa worked across the border and my ama probably worked harder at taking care of their growing family. They went to live in a colonia where housing and plumbing wasn’t very personal and definitely not cozy. The need for housing intensified as people were arriving. One “solution” to the growing population and daily needs was to build shared outhouses in the colonia. Everything in my sheltered inexperienced mind is grappling with the idea of leaving my house to use the bathroom. Pero pues, I’m trying to understand the logic behind this solucion. Gracias a Dios, that children are different. They’re resilient, they see most things as adventures.

Un dia, while my ama was busy, the kids were out playing. Fernando was out in the colonia playing ball with his friends, he doesn’t remember if he was playing soccer, but he was hard at play. Y de repente! That’s how it is with latinos, every story has an “all of a sudden!” element. They all noticed the BIG hole in the ground and curiosity got a hold of them. After having raised three boys myself, I can attest to the fact that boys like to take curiosity to another level! After some speculation they concluded that the ollo was for the new outhouse that was coming soon. They peered into it, they sized it up and one another and put out the challenge. “Who can get out of the ollo?” They all decided they could easily, no problem. Right here, I’ll embellish Fernandos story, because he doesn’t remember, and I have faced 3 little boys who ALWAYS did everything better and faster. Is it possible that Chapparro was too eager to top all the other boys? Por supuesto que si! And before he knew it, they were all daring him to prove it. He faced that hole and the dare, I can only imagine how much time he took ruminating about the act of the big jump. For sure the voices of his friends echoed in his mind. “You can’t do it” “Tienes miedo” and then, he was in the hole. When he looked up, his friends were gone and he was stuck. A hole that was all of a sudden an insurmountable height, maybe five feet high, he was about 3 ft high himself. Panic struck him as he realized that he couldn’t get out, forever trapped in the newly dug outhouse hole. It took him no time at all to sound his alarm. “Ama! Ama!” No response. Panic gripped him and his voice went up a notch “Ama! Ama!” and the tears gushed as he cried “Amaaa! Amaaa!” The ollo was closing in on him as he screamed for ama. And then she was there, relief flooded him. 

The Board of Education

When he was out of the hole, his relief lasted a moment because he had to face ama and answer the questions. “Porque hiciste eso?” She would never understand his need to prove himself, but he would have to learn quickly that he must stay away from dangerous scenarios. And for that short quick lesson the ‘board of education’ was needed. Fernando says that one of his grade school teachers referred to the paddle for disciplining like this. Ya se, this is a sensitive topic, so I’m just sharing facts, ama spanked him as needed, y pues all of her children felt the “board of education” as needed. She didn’t beat or abuse him, she loved him. The lesson of not following the crowd, or listening to the voices of foolishness would be ongoing lessons that everyone faces.

Gracias a Dios that my ama learned how to discern those different cries we let out as we experienced life and came to our rescue, aid or encouragement as needed. It’s pretty special to watch a mom in action when her child cries out. I have a beautiful friend who sometimes will hear her kids cry and doesn’t follow the crowd of moms who sometimes apapachan, you know hover and immediately pull their child out of their distress, without giving him/her a chance to work things out and learn their own boundaries and establish them. This fiesty latina, will hear and recognize their need and choose not to be anxious for them. 

Whether or not a mother hovers about and runs to every cry, or picks and chooses which cry is a genuine emergency, the main thing is that a mother hears her child’s cries. 

If I Could Send a Text To Heaven

The Heavy Weight of Loss

Ya se, ya se. Here I am in beautiful San Diego smack dab in the middle of the summer, beautiful city, perfect weather y aun asi my heart is heavy with loss. Circumstances of my life have propelled me into a feeling of swimming for survival. Que dramatic verdad?

My ama, oh how I wish we could talk. I would pick her brain about her marriage and motherhood and grandmotherhood. Ahora si, I see her sacrifices, and totally relate to her tears and her fatigue. Y, I’d pull out the pictures of her great grandchildren, “Mire ama, todo lo que Dios me ha concedido” Oh I know she would cry tears of joy to see my beautiful inheritance. I get anxious at times about my apa. Is he indeed resting in peace? so I’d also have her ask her “Como esta mi apa?”  In my mind I still imagine some of those unspoken difficult conversations, pero, gracias a Dios, that He was with my apa till  he finished his race.  I do want to tell him about Hector, his youngest. The travieso!, his troublemaking days are behind him, I hope he knows that is ok. 

Y mis hermanas, my sisters, I want to assure them, or maybe me, that all is well. 

With all the things to come, I think I’m behaving quite “self controlled”. While I’m not quite Ben (my cold blooded Englishman), I’m handling life. Pero, I’m tending to want to keep on that terrible and wicked stronghold of pride, yet I know it only damages me. If you’re latina, (or maybe pride affects everyone) ya sabes. Hold your head up, if needed, look angry to ‘prove’ you are a strong latina woman and nothing can knock you down. O, if something has threatened you push back, be strong, fight, no te dejes! 

Like I’ve said a few times, anything can trigger mourning, my sister Patty’s birthday just passed, and I asked God if he would give her a message. Honestly, as long as I’ve been Born Again, I have very little knowledge of heaven. Note to self: Learn about the place you’ll spend eternity girl! The streets are paved with gold, Jesus, my savior is preparing my place, there will be no more suffering, pain or mourning. But I don’t know how Heaven functions, I pray and and hold fast to His promises, then one day I’ll be there with my familia.

If I Could Send a Text:

I want Patty to know that our Emery is getting married and she would be quite pleased with the jewel God is making her to be; beautiful, strong, sweet and spicy are the traits I’ve detected thus far. 

Could an unfeeling text, even with emojis, relate my heart in this? I want my ama to know that I understand her now. I want her to know that I regret my disrespectful ignorant attitude toward her trials. I want her to know that I realize how much we kids took a piece of her heart and I’m so sorry I broke it. 

I still want them to let me know how much they miss me, but missing someone is painful sometimes, and in Heaven they don’t suffer from pain anymore. 

The Days Pass Like Vapor:

As time is passing and life is quickly changing, I’m hanging on to Christ, the only one that doesn’t change.