Today marks 23 years since my Mom separated from her body here. She was always a big, happy, fun presence, full of laughter, ready with a joke, always ready to move her feet and dance. As you can see in these pics, she was a beauty, too. It was super cold and windy when I went to the cemetery this morning to bring flowers and polish her headstone until it shone. I really love having a quiet,beautiful, special place where I can focus my thoughts and prayers on her without distraction. There are two vases; I always use the 2nd one because Dad used to use the first one and even though he doesn’t go there any longer, I still pull out both vases so the 1st one can still be pulled out. I fill the vase with water at the spigot, wet a rag for cleaning, trim the flower bouquet I brought (roses, ranunculus – really pretty today) and arrange it in the vase. Kneeling on a towel, I go to work on the headstone, clearing leaves, cleaning the stone, spraying it with marble/granite cleaner, wiping it and then buffing with a soft cloth for a high shine. All the while, I’m talking to Mom, feeling her presence, just the two of us, loving one another as always. I put my hands together in prayer and pray. Then I bend forward, kiss her name on the headstone and make the Sign of the Cross on her name.
I love the pic of mom on her wedding day. So young and beautiful and all that lace – wow! She visited Disneyland when it opened; we’ve figured she was probably pregnant with my brother Steve in this pic. In the 3rd pic are my cousins Rosie and Carmen (on the ends), with me and Mom.
Yesterday, I visited my Oropeza cousins in Oxnard to celebrate my Tio Lolo’s 83rd birthday.(Oropeza is Mom’s maiden name.) Tio Lolo is Mom’s youngest brother; she was next to the youngest in birth order in the Oropeza family of 10 children. They were all always very close and we grew up visiting at various tios’ homes nearly every weekend, all the cousins playing and growing up together. Family was the most important thing and our bond to one another was tight, almost like brothers and sisters. Being with cousins yesterday (and 2nd cousins and 3rd cousins) made me feel even closer to Mom. Being with them is like being with Mom: teasing, laughing, loving, talking endlessly, wanting more time together and not wanting to leave. Thank you, Mom, for our family, for my wonderful brothers and all of my beautiful, loving, crazy-fun extended family. I miss you but I see you alive still in all of us. I love you, Mom!