All Posts Tagged ‘Family

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Emotional trip

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For the first time in many years I’m going to take a vacation. I’m going to Croatia where my family comes from, and I will stay there for a whole month, to visit the cities and places that are related with my parent’s life. It’s going to be a very emotional trip, since my mom passed away only a few months ago.

I’m gonna met with my cousins and my aunt Mira, who is still alive, to hear her stories about the old times. But mainly, I’m gonna take long walks by my own thru the streets of the lovely cities and by the seashore, contemplating the many and beautiful islands scattered along the coast. No hurries. I want, if is possible, to met my roots.

My trip is only two weeks away, and I’m already very nervous, thinking about what should I include in my baggage and what should I left at home. I can’t wait for the moment to check-in for my flight!

Ragtag Daily Prompt: Check

In the picture a view of the walls of Dubrovnik captured I don’t remember how many years ago 

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Bastion

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My city keeps its ancient walls all around the old quarter, with its bastions, battlements, bulwarks, part of its moat, its beautiful citadel, even a gate with a wooden drawbridge which is still working.

Obviously, they no longer are used as a defence against the enemy, and around the city walls there are parks and green areas. When I was a kid I used to play knights and princesses over there with my brother and my sisters.

A stick as a sword and our imagination in such a scenery made wonders. We made up thousand of stories; each one more fantastic than the previous. We could play for hours and never get bored.

Now I don’t see so many children playing around the city walls the way we used to. Maybe knights and princesses and castles are not “cool” any more, or maybe is hard for kids to imagine adventures of the lost centuries outside a video game. Who knows!

Ragtag Daily Prompt: Bastion

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Purple

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I hate being negative, but purple reminds me to the dead, because is the colour of the funerals in the church.

I have too recent my mom’s funeral, with all the priests dressed in purple chasuble, singing songs about the everlasting life, in wich I firmly believe.

It was a very sad day, because is always hard to say good-bye. Above all when there is so much love involved.

Now her home is no longer a home, but a strange empty place. It was also a day of hope, because she went to a better life, stopped suffering and finally rested. And I’m sure she’s now with dad in heaven, wich was her biggest wish.

But we, down here, would like to have her more time, to hear her stories, laugh with her, feel her love for us, her children.

I have spent my last five years taking care of her since she had a stroke. I still getting up in the morning thinking: I have to go to take care of mom… And then the harsh truth strikes my mind like a hammer. I have no longer where to go.

Well, I have found places to go and things to do, but without mom.

My life has changed completely.I miss her badly.

Ragtag Daily Prompt: Purple

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Homely tradition

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Since we don’t have the daily prompt I have turned back for inspiration in the Jennifer Nichole Wells’ Topic Generator at http://topicgenerator.wordpress.com It provides you a random noun combined with a random adjective as a headline for your blog post.
Today it gave me the combination “Homely Tradition”
The first thing it came to my mind was music.

When we were kids my dad used to wake us up in feast days and special occasions with music. He would turned on the record player and surprised us with some joyful classic.

We would jumped up from bed and would run to the living room knowing that something special was waiting for us. A little gift, a funny poem, and that was only the beginning of a wonderful day in wich wouldn’t fail a delicious cake baked by mom.

So, from our childhood we have the music associated to joy and nice family life, because we also sang together a lot. Nowadays in the era of the headphones the music experience has become more individualistic (apart from the concerts and the street musicians). I

miss the times when we listened to the music together. With the social networks one can easily establish relationships with distant and unknown people and have problems to interact with real people in the neighbourhood. That happens to me above all with youngsters. I don’t know. Maybe I’m getting old.

 

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By the sea

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I’m living inland and I ‘m permanently longing for the ocean with its open horizon, its salty smell, its breeze, The sound of its waves…

I belong to a family with several centuries of history of marine tradition. We have lots of ship’s captains among our ancestors. But my father pursued other goals, in the field of literature and journalism, and besides he had to exile from his country In eastern Europe many years ago, persecuted by the communists. So we ended settled in a city far away from the sea in a new country.

Nevertheless, the call for the open horizons is in my blood and I return to the coast whenever I can, to enjoy that unique atmosphere, watch the ships, sail, and swim, and breath the clean air at the shore while the waves wet my feet.

The picture has been taken in Bermeo, Bizkaia (Spain)
Place in the World

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Thank You, Danny Kaye

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When my dad was very sick and he couldn’t move, we knew how to make him laugh heartily and forget about his situation for a while. It was pretty easy because he was a good-humoured man.

But we had a specially very good time when we used to watch with him a Danny Kaye’s video. In it, Kaye plays a performer who imitates a russian baritone, who had been temporarily retired because of problems with allergies, and wants to return to the music hall singing the popular russian song: “Black eyes”. Everything seems normal untill a girl brings to the scene a big bouquet of flowers and he begins to sneeze while he’s singing. It’s hilarious.

Only mentioning the title of the song (“Otchi Chornya”) was enough for a belly laugh. We all knew what was coming after.

So, Thank you, Danny Kaye, wherever you are. (I’m sure there is a very special place in Heaven for the people who make us laugh or convey us beauty, for the people who make us happy.)

Laughter

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Singing together

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My father loved music and every time we were all together, he encouraged us to sing. My sister Elica used to play the piano or the guitar and we could spend hours after dinner merrily singing all kind of songs.

Dad had a nice tenor voice and a some repertoire of love songs he always sang to my mom. And she used to smile and blush. They had been married for decades, but they seemed like a boyfriend and his girlfriend. Some were ancient Croatian songs, Other were Italian songs he learned when he spent some years exiled in Italy after the war, when he was alone estranged from his family.

I have a particular memory of one of these Italian songs: “Non ti Scordar di me” (Don’t you forget about me).

When Dad was were sick in the hospital, one morning they were broadcasting on the tv one of the concerts of the three tenors, and Pavarotti began to sing that song. My dad almost couldn’t move and speak at the time,  but when he heard the melody he said: I know this song. And began to sing with his cracked voice to me, “Don’t you forget about me, My life is united to you, …

It was the las song he sang. and almost the last words he said to me. He passed away only a few days after that.

Back to our early years, when we were all young and happy, we’ve enjoyed a lot singing polyphonic songs. Our familiar choir grown when Elica got married and Jim with his beautiful baritone voice joined us with his new repertoire of American songs. There was a Spanish folk song, a simple melody with a silly lyrics but very suitable to sing with multiple voices we enjoyed a lot. “My grandma’s pot” was usually the end of those wonderful Family get together, plenty of music an laughters.
Song

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Purposely messy

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My dad was a journalist, and a writer, and a University teacher.

He had at home a little den full of shelves with all kind of books and with a messy desk.

Well, apparently was messy, because there were two typewriters and stacks of papers here and there, a radio with which he listened foreign stations to get international news, and many more things.

why two typewriters? He had one to write poetry and another one to write everything else: mainly his column for the newspaper and his notes for the lectures at the University.

He had his own organisation in the middle of the apparent mess. He knew exactly where he had every piece of paper he needed. Every note he had prepared.

Once he had to go away for a few days on a trip with his students of Journalism, my mom decided to take advantage of the occasion to paint and carpet the room.

She mobilized the five of us – just kids by then – and we cleaned the desk after making a sketch and numbering the stacks of papers to be able to put them back exactly as we found them. And we did it!

When the painter finished his work, we reinstalled the desk following our sketch and our system of numbers. And after several hours of hard work, and a lot of fun with mom, the room looked as messy as ever, but renewed and freshly painted.

Dad noticed something, but he couldn’t say exactly what until we told him. And he was grateful, and above all happy to find everything in its place.

Messy

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They can’t take that away from me…

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It’s been seventeen years since my dad passed away, but sometimes it seems it was yesterday. So vivid and sweet is the memory of his words, his blue glances, his kindness… I’ll say with Ella Fitzgerald, that

they may take him from me,

I’ll miss his fond caress,

but though They take him from me,

I’ll still possess:

the way his smile just beams,

The way he looks at me,

the way he speaks to me,

the way he sings so nicely,

the way he jokes with me,

the memory of all that.

No, no, they can’t take that away from me.

It’ll remain carved in my soul for ever

along with the peace he conveys.

Daddy, stay with me

No, no, they can’t take you away from me.

Carve

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Looking back, looking forward

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This year I have failed in almost everything I was supposed to do, but I can say that I have been there for my mom till she passed away, taking care of her, being by her side when she needed me, talking with her… loving her. I’m glad I have been able to do it. Now I feel sad when I see her house empty and I miss her smile and her wise and loving words. But life must go on… I’ll never forget this 2017.

Now let’s look forward: Happy New Year
Finally

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My dad’s library

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My parents house was a cozy place mainly because they were there filling everything with their affection and their love. But also because the house was plenty of books (my father was a writer and a professor of literature), that gave warmth to the rooms. There were no walls without shelves and books on them except in the kitchen.

My father passed away years ago and my mother a few months ago, and we decided to donate my father’s library and his archive to his University. It will be available to scholars to research about my father’s work.

A few days before Christmas two librarians from the University came to classify, pack, and take away everything. They needed 115 big boxes to pack everything and two big vans to move them to the University’s Library and Archive

Now the house is empty and cold. Very sad. At least, we know all that beloved material is in good hands and will be useful for people interested in what my father had been doing all those years he spent writing and teaching. There are some graduated who could make their papers for their PhD on my father’s work.

All these are the good reasons we did. But for me is hard to look at the empty shelves without feeling my heart torn.

Cozy

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Inheritance of love

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My parents lived one of the most exciting love stories I’ve ever heard of. They got married during the WWII. They had a baby, and almost immediately after that,  the war separated them.

My father was a prisoner, later a refugee and finally an exiled. My mom had to hide with the baby and later was persecuted because of her faith in a communist country. They spent twelve years trying to reunite again during which they suffered a lot.

All their attempts were a failures until 1956. But they loved each other so much that when they finally succeeded and met again, they were able to look at each other at the eyes without regrets, and continue their live together just as if they had said farewell the day before. And they continued loving each other like the first day till the end.

Dad, a writer, used to write poems to mom and surprise her with little gifts with no apparently reason. She was always smiling. Their friends and acquaintances say that my parents conveyed serenity and happiness. I think so too.

My dad passed away sixteen years ago. My mom just last August.

I miss them badly

They didn’t have material things to leave us as inheritance.

I would like to inherit their way of loving, so natural, so intense, so faithful.

Inheritance

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Knitting with Mom

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I used to knit during the long hours I spent taking care of my mom when she was still among us. It was the perfect activity to be with her. I was able to follow a conversation with her, do something productive, and drop it immediately whenever she needed something of me, which was pretty often, and unpredictable. I couldn’t read a book, because I couldn’t concentrate with so much interruptions. Watch tv was extremely boring. She loved watching me doing something while I was with her. when I finished my first sweater she said she was really proud of me. Since she passed away I never took out again the knitting bag again…until today to take this picture.

Knit

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Not fair

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When I was a student at the University, my father was one of my teachers. I studied Journalism and he was a teacher of Literature, Technology and Ethics. I could attended at his classes which were magnificent above all the Literature an ethics ones. But he couldn’t examine me because I was his daughter.

He was known because he never let his students fail in an exam. They knew all of them would pass, but nevertheless they studied a lot for his exams. How did he get it? Nobody knew. He used to tell them if they wouldn’t work enough then, they will fail later in life. And he was able to convince them.  He was really kind and always open to talk with his students.

So, when all my classmates had guaranteed that they would pass the exam, I had to go to render my exam to a different professor. In Ethics I had to face  the toughest teacher of the Faculty who asked me tricky questions without any mercy. I didn’t want mercy, just justice. And that was not fair. At the end I passed, but it was hard.

In the picture, dad at the University

Mercy

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Lost Nest

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Mom's 1

Now that my mom has passed away, her nest is empty. Her house, a meeting point for all of us, plenty of great remembrances, is now a sad and solitary place. The place where I used to go to find refuge and solace is gone.

Soon it will begin the time of Advent and after that, Christmas. Every year I used to spend many time with her, planning what to do, what presents get ready for the kids, how to set the simple grotto scene in the living room, under the Christmas tree full of decorations and lights.

And because she was so sick and paralytic, I was the one doing all that things under her loving directions, while we listened to traditional carols .

We used to laugh like kids at the slightest reason or without any reason at all.

I loved the moment when I had finished decorating the tree and the whole living room. It was usually at the evening. I used to turn off all the lights except the ones on the tree and the grotto scene and all the other decorations. Then I used to go to my mom’s room and bring her, pushing the wheelchair, to the living room.

The wonder in her face was my best reward. Her eyes were bright and smiling and my heart was dancing. I’m going to miss you so much, mom!

In the picture, my mom’s armchair, empty

Nest

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Dad’s angel

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Every Christmas eve, my dad used to build a grotto scene in the living room with little figurines of st Joseph, the Virgin Mary, the Baby Jesus and the shepherds, under the Christmas tree.

He had a beautiful a valuable figurine of the angel who announced to the shepherds the good news and he always put it in the scene gingerly at the end. When the angel was in its place it meant that everything was ready and the feast could begin.

Then, we could gather around the scene and the tree and pray, sing carols and finally open the presents.

The figurine, dad’s angel, no more than six inches tall, was very artistically done had every finger modeled one by one and a very peaceful face. It’s been more than 60 years than my dad bought the figurine and it looks completely new.

Now my sister keeps it in her house. She also takes very good care of it. It brings very good memories of all those Christmas at our home when we were all together and happy, and everything had some kind of sweet magic.

Those were wonderful years and now we are trying to build similar memories for the youngest in our family so they could also treasure wonderful memories of family life
Gingerly

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Not in the mood

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Cemetery (2 of 5)

Too close to the death of my mom and a good friend to be interested in entertain myself writing a ghoulish story. Death has called recently people I loved, and my soul is bleeding quietly.

It’s strange, I’ve spent the last five years taking care of my mom and I came to thought that when she died, I would fall apart. She needed me because of her illness, but I needed her so much because of her love…

When was time to go to bed, she used to blessed me, doing the sign of the cross in my forehead telling me in Croatian, with her mild voice: “Sweet night, my heart”. (Laku Noć, Srce Moje). I thought I couldn’t live without her blessing and her sweet words. But when the death arrived quick and treacherously without giving me a chance to say goodbye, I stayed frozen by the pain, but without tears. I couldn’t react. I, who cry for anything , and die of sorrow for the most trivial misfortunes. My mom was dead and I couldn’t cry.

I still bearing my pain in the deeps of my soul and has not surfaced yet. Today I found myself thinking, “when all this work I’m having these days finish, I’ll have more time to take care of mom”But she doesn’t need me any more.

Maybe is me who needs to stop working and moving around and think about what happened no matter how painful, and let my tears finally reach my eyes and cry, because I miss her so much. Maybe is time tell her quietly: Sweet night, mom, my heart. Goodbye. Laku Noć, Mom.

Ghoulish

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Identity search

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When my father passed away I had to do the paperwork to get my mother widow’s pension and I run into a clerk who told me that my mom wasn’t my dad’s wife (after 56 years of marriage) because they didn’t have the “family’s book”.

In Spain, when you get married you get a “family’s book” which is very important. It certifies the marriage and when the kids arrive inscribe them as the legitimate children.
But my parents, who are from Croatia and had a very eventful life before settling in Spain, were already married for 13 years when they arrived, and the authorities never gave them the famous book.

I went to the social security office with the marriage certificate, from the civil authorities and from the church, and the book of large family the Spanish Government had given us many years ago, but the clerk told me that those documents were not valid. Without the family’s book, my parents were not married and my mom had no right to the pension. I came again with more papers but without success. The third day I arrive with my papers, another clerk, who was more sympathetic, called me to a follow her to a corner of the room and gave me a yellow post-it with a name and a phone number.

– This is a Red Cross’ social worker – she told me – who gets identities for immigrants who do not have them like your mom. Call her she’ll help.

I exploded:

– Look. My mom got the Spanish nationality 45 years ago, probably before you were born.  And now you are telling me that I have to look for an identity for her, as if she had arrived yesterday undocumented in a boat?. I appreciate your interest, but not. Thank you.

I went home tired and desperate and asked my mom if she had some other paper about her marriage. She produced an old certificate, profusely decorated with the red star, the sickle and the hammer, from the Yugoslavian Government, with the names of my parents in latin and Cyrillic alphabets, all written in Croatian and Serbian. It was related to the property of their small apartment in Zagreb.

– Try with this, she told me. It has nothing to do with the marriage but it has our names in it.

I went to the office of the social security armed with my communist certificate, absolutely incomprehensible for them, and, at the sight of the sickle and the hammer, the Cyrillic alphabet and all that, the clerk surrendered.

– This will work, she told me dryly.

So that way, thanks to the Yugoslavian Government, my application passed to a higher instance where there was an official who knew my father and said immediately that, of course, there was no doubt that my mom was my father’s widow and had the right to the pension.

Identity

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Admiration

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Here is my mom solving crosswords at her desk. She is 96. She has total paralysis in the left half of her body due to a brain stroke she suffered four years ago and she’s completely dependant, confined in her wheelchair, but his intelligence remains intact. Last Christmas, her present was a kindle. She had been complaining that it was difficult for her to read paper books because with only one hand was almost impossible keep the book open and turn the pages. with the electronic book, she can do it with a single finger. She switched without problems to the digital format and she’s reading mystery novels and other books.
But I admire her because she’s a survivor with a lot of inner strength who never gives up. She survived WWII, a hard Communist Regime, an unjust incarceration, twelve years of forced separation of her husband, exile and now this sickness. And she never have lost her smile. Be optimistic, kind and strong. Never give up. That’s my mom.

Admiration

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Voilà!

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Most of us are excellent at being self-deprecating, and are not so good at the opposite. Tell us your favorite thing about yourself.

magia-0942

Here am I, last Christmas. It’s not my usual look. I went to the hair dresser, applied some make up, earrings, necklace, my best dress, and voilà!: a total transformation. My usual appearance is very different a lot more casual and no so pretty. Something more like this:

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I’ve had to think hard to find something good to tell about myself. I think I’m a good daughter. I’ve tried to give back to my parents all the love they gave me. I did it with my dad when he was sick and died and now with my mom who needs me every day for everything. And I didn’t forget the legacy of my dad, a good man, a writer, a poet and a loved teacher of 30 generations of journalists in Spain. I’m trying to maintain live his memory and publish his writings now that his centenary is approaching in my new website brajnovic.info in which I write in Spanish. Since this post is kind of egocentric I would ask you to help me and check if you don’t mind the site. I would really appreciate your opinions about how it looks. I’m hungry for qualified feedback

Toot Your Horn

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Grieving Night

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Dad with his pupils at the university

Dad with his pupils at the university

I didn’t want to get out of that room. I wanted to stay by him till the end. I loved him so much! Every second was precious for me. But all the others decided that I was the suitable person to accompany my mother home to have some rest. I kissed him in the forehead, fearing it would be my last and said: wait for me, dad. He had no strength to talk nor open his blue eyes, but he managed to smile. I left the hospital heartbroken. So many remembrances kept in that faint smile, so acute pain in the soul thinking in the approaching farewell. Mom and I went home and she managed to sleep because she was exhausted. At two am I the phone awakened me.

– Come immediately, he is dying.
I got up in a rush and called mom to tell her the we had to go to the hospital. She began to dress up and comb her hair and apply her lipstick, because she wanted to be pretty for my father even in the last instant. I began to get nervous, because we didn’t have time to lose.
– Mom, hurry up, please.
Finally we went out. I drove to the hospital. My mom got out from the car at the door, to arrive as soon as possible, and I continued to find a parking lot. I ran back to the hospital hoping to find my dad alive and having the opportunity to tell him goodby.
He, who almost was executed during WWII, and once thought his body would disappear, and his love, my mom, would never know how much he loved her, was dying at old age, in her bed, surrounded by his wife and children and accompanied by a priest, friend of the family. Far away from his homeland, that’s true, but embraced by love.
When I arrived to the room, he was looking with his blue eyes to my mom, their hands clasped. He had trouble breathing and had an oxygen mask. But it was useless, so the doctor removed it. I asked the priest to pray something, but he was too moved to utter a word.
– Netter pray you something in Croatian, he told me.
I began to repeat the Lord’s prayer and the Hail Mary, my dad’s favourites.
Little by little dad faded looking at mom, his only love of 56 years. When he stopped breathing I stopped praying, the tears overwhelming my voice.  The sadness was tremendous. But my soul was invaded by an overwhelming peace. I kissed again his forehead and told him: thank you dad.

Topic Generator

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Tired Lesson

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Getting up each morning was a heroic act. She wasn’t entirely conscious of what was going on. She felt terribly tired, and any effort seemed unbearable. But she had a family to take care of and a job to keep, so she dragged herself each morning to perform her duties. Days were long and dark like endless tunnels. She only wanted to disappear. She constantly was thinking that everything she was doing was wrong. That her life was not worthy. But the love for her family made her go on and on working and trying to disguise her tiredness. She didn’t know if her boss had noticed that she was falling into a deep depression. She didn’t want to recognise that it was a depression. Her best friend had noticed and had saved her from many tricky situations offering her help or taking her out of the office for a quick walk when she was about to burst in tears in public.

One day she had to give a lecture to a group of young students. She had her notes and her presentation careful prepared, as always. But she couldn’t resist any more. She gave the entire lecture perfectly, but tears were rolling down her cheeks constantly. She couldn’t help herself. There was dead silence in the classroom. everyone was hanging on her words. She cleared her voice and continued despite the tears, till the end of the presentation. Her lecture was brilliant. There was an ovation. The students were impressed by that unusual lesson. She couldn’t even smile at them. She was exhausted. She only wanted to find a hidden spot to cry alone with her weakness.

It was the end. Or the beginning. She finally asked for a leave of absence and accepted she needed professional help. She learned from that tired lesson she gave, that she couldn’t go on like that any more. It was for the good of her family. It was for her good.

Topic Generator

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Inside the Bubble

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A contagious disease requires you to be put into quarantine for a whole month (don’t worry, you get well by the time you’re free to go!). How would you spend your time in isolation?

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Sorry for the bad quality of the picture, but it suited the prompt too well. These kids are having a lot of fun inside the bubble, but they only want to prick the bright transparent globe and see how disappears in a harmless burst of soapy water. I guess I would be enchanted like them in my bubble at first, with plenty of time to sleep, relax. Time to read and write.  Maybe  give a boost to a book I have in project. I would have time to concentrate. There would be no distractions. No need to work and no other responsibilities. Luxuries I don’t have in my daily life. Bright, dazzling colours, deformed reality, with attractive surreal forms. But soon I would feel an irresistible need to take a needle and prick the bubble. A need to escape and interact with real people. And be able to see, and talk to, and touch my loved ones. This would be the best part of the isolation. Its end.

Inside the Bubble

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Super Glass

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glass (1 of 1)

He was four, restless, naughty. Had a powerful lungs and a loud voice and was always yelling and running around. No fragile things were safe with him around. The teachers at the kindergarten were desperate with him. A truly problematic kid.

His parents took him with them to a trip to visit his grandparents. Grandpa was very sick, in a wheelchair. He was an intellectual with a powerful mind now confined in an impaired body.

When he got to know his little grandson he said “this boy is gonna be a genius”.

He was the first one to predict a good future to him.

The kid was like mesmerised looking at his Grandpa and for once remained quiet.

Once the family went out for a walk and he insisted to try to push the wheelchair. He was so small he couldn’t possibly see where he was going, but had so much strength that he really pushed the chair and he almost crashed grandpa against a fountain. Everybody was running to stop him and avoid a catastrophe, but grandpa was laughing. He seemed to had a great time.

They had a special bond between them.

Sometimes the old man had cough attacks, pretty anguishing. Then the grandson would run to the kitchen to get a glass of fresh water and hurriedly offer it to his Grandpa.

You’ll feel better, You’ll see, the kid said while caressing him

Every time grandpa felt bad the little rascal was there. Not scared, or disgusted. Just ready with his super glass of water to ease the suffering of his beloved old man.

Topic Generator

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Eli

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How would you get along with your sibling(s), parent(s), or any other person you’ve known for a long time — if you only met them for the first time today?

My older sister has become lately my best friend. Above all now that we are together sharing our efforts in taking care of our mom who is very sick and paralytic,  so she needs our help for everything. She is a very pragmatic and resolute woman, cheerful, positive and with a golden heart. I am emotional, idealistic, depressed, and I have the head in the clouds. She helps me decide what to do when I’m perplexed or my emotions won’t let me think properly. In some way I have known her recently with all this problem with my mom’s sickness. Till now she was for me like a perfect model. The person who could solve any problem. Always sure and solid as a rock no matter what the difficulties. Now I’m getting to know her better. She has doubts like me about what to do, out of love for my mom. we both want the best for her and it’s not easy. Taking care of a completely paralysed person is difficult for everyone. Mom suffers, and we get tired. Sometimes, my sister needs to lean on me. I’m trying to be strong. For the sake of Mom and for the sake of her. Eli. My  older sister. She deserves it for all she has done for me.

Delayed Contact.

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Imagination

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What was your favorite plaything as a child? Do you see any connection between your life now, and your favorite childhood toy?

 

Vuelta del Castillo

I remember playing with my brother and my sisters with home-made toys. With some paper and a lot of imagination we could turn out our room in a pirate ship and the corridors of our home in the Caribbean. The living room was the treasure island. We had what we thought it was a real treasure hidden there, in a secret place. We could play for weeks, without getting tired. My brother was the captain I was his second. One of my younger sisters was the boatswain and the other was too small and had no mission, but my brother convinced her that she was the most important after the captain. This was our favourite play when it was raining and we had to stay at home. When the weather was good and we went with mom to the park at the city walls, we played to knights and princesses running around with wooden sticks or just moving our arms and legs to pretend we were wielding a sword or riding a horse. Those were wonderful days we spent together.

Now we are each one in different cities, even different countries. Those days when we where happy together are gone, but the memories will stay forever.

Toy Story.

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Chocolate

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Humans have very strong scent memory. Tell us about a smell that transports you.

When my brother celebrated his first communion, some forty years ago, we had to rent his suit because we had no money to buy a new one. It was, as is traditional in Spain a sailor suit, all white with some trimmings in blue. After the ceremony we went all together to have a nice breakfast in a café close to the church with our friends. We ordered hot chocolate. Of course my brother ruined his suit with chocolate stains and my mom had to wash it before returning it to the store. But we had a wonderful day, playing and laughing all together. We used to go with my parents on Saturdays to another café called “Delights” where the hot chocolate was a speciality. I remember teaching to my younger sister her first words in Spanish there taking advantage of some decorations and drawings they had on the walls. I used to have strong migraines and my doctors said chocolate could be bad for my headaches. But I didn’t care. Mom used to make delicious chocolate cakes for feast days when we gathered  around the table and had the most fabulous get together. Hot chocolate and “churros” is a typical breakfast in San Fermin Fiesta after the running of the bulls. The chocolate scent brings me remembrances of feast days, of a happy childhood and of good friends. I like it.

Smell You Later.

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Grandma for 15 days

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Sure, you turned out pretty good, but is there anything you wish had been different about your childhood? If you have kids, is there anything you wish were different for them?

Once, my grandma came to visit us. She got a visa permit for 15 days from the communist Yugoslavian authorities to cross the border. She hadn’t seen my father since the day he got imprisoned by the Italian fascists who invaded their town during WWII and began his adventurous life who ended in exile and immigration. More than 20 years of separation.
I was five. We knew we only would have grandma for a few days. So we were all day around her, while she was all time close to my father, her lost child, now found for a short time. They had a lot to talk about. We listened in silence.
She had a very sweet face with a charming smile and beautiful blue eyes. I remember I was happy just being close to her and looking at her. The only family I knew till then was my parents and my brother and sisters. A grandma was a big novelty. I experienced her love for us. And it was great!.
Those few days passed too fast. We had to say goodbye, knowing it was for ever. And nine months later, she died.
I wish I had an extended family at reach. We were alone in a strange country. No family, no roots near us. The usual in an immigrant family.

Childhood Revisited.

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My father

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Have you ever had a mentor? What was the greatest lesson you learned from him or her?

When I was looking for my first job as a journalist I avoided the newspaper in which my father was working as a columnist because I didn’t want any favouritism. So I went with my résumé to another newspaper knowing that I would leave my home and move to another city. It was worthwhile. I learned a lot those first years by myself. Nevertheless I consider that my dad was my best mentor in life and in my profession because he taught me everything I needed to survive, search for the truth and work with ethics. He was always available for me. He knew to listen. He understood my problems and knew when I needed an advice and when I only wanted to lean on his strong shoulder, or share my joys or worries with him. He never imposed anything. By listening to me and let me talk, he helped me find my way to do things. And all with his fine sense of humor, with an easy smile in his face and in his bright blue eyes.

Mentor Me.

 

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Mother

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Beach, mountain, forest, or somewhere else entirely?

It has been so long since my last travel, that I only can think on get out of this city at least for a day. Where? I don’t mind. Any change would be welcome. I’m stuck in this city. I can’t leave its maze of streets. I like my city. I’m lucky it has plenty of parks and green spaces I can enjoy. It’s also in a privileged place near stunning nature spots. But for me is difficult to leave the city even to go to those places, no matter how close they are. And this situation is gonna last for a long time. I was gonna say: I’m afraid. But I’ll rather say: I hope. Or better: If that is what God wants. Because what ties me to my city this way is my mom. She needs me every day to take care of her. And I feel lucky to be able to help her to have a better quality of life now that she can’t move by herself.

I have a lot of memories of wonderful places I visited when I was free and had the means to travel. Once, I won in a raffle a trip for two to spend a week in Cuba all paid. My mom was then saying that she didn’t want to die without seen her homeland again, so I asked in the travel agency if I could change the tickets from Cuba to Croatia and they say yes.  We got a trip to spend 10 days in Dubrovnik all paid (out of high season). It was great. She told me a lot of exciting stories she lived in the medioeval city during the war. I got to know her courage. We enjoyed the art, the culture, the blue mediterranean sea. We took advantage of our trip to go to Kotor Bay in Montenegro to visit my dad’s family in Kotor city and Dobrota. We had long conversations at my aunt’s orchard next to the shore, feeling the evening marine breeze. Kotor Bay is a wonderful place where you have the sea, some islands, and high mountains together. It was a great trip. I would like to go back. But I know it only will be possible without mom and then I don’t know if I will be able to overcome the emotions and the sorrow.

Places.

 

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2007

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Dig through your couch cushions, your purse, or the floor of your car and look at the year printed on the first coin you find. What were you doing that year?

2007. Pretty recent. But my life has changed a lot from then. I was working in the local newspaper as a senior writer in the international desk. My professional life was intense. My mom was healthy and was living independently in her flat. She didn’t need special care.

I made a trip to Croatia to see my family and friends. It was a wonderful trip. I went in winter and spent most of my time in Zagreb. It was very cold but I didn’t mind. Zagreb has its charm in winter. I met a friend I hadn’t seen in ten years. We spent hours talking in a café in Jelacic square, with a hot coffee and a satchel cake, to catch up with our lives. She’s a musician with a very interesting life. My family, as always , willing to please me in everything in spite they have almost nothing. I had a wonderful time with them.

From my desk at the newsroom, I wrote about many important events. I can’t remember all of them. I know Iraq was in flames. I think that was the year when Tony Blair left power and Gordon Brown took over in the UK and the year when Nicolas Sarkozy was elected president in France. What I remember was the big surprise and expectation at the end of the year when a young black candidate began to rise in the polls as the possible democrat nominee for the president of the United States. A black candidate with some possibilities to beat his white opponents. Something unthinkable a few months before.

So When 2007 was finishing, I was writing about an unknown (for us) black democrat called Barack Obama who was defying to known candidates as Hillary Clinton or John McCain at the beginning of the race to the White House.

Now Obama is in his second term, Gordon Brown is history, Sarkozy left the presidency and now is trying to return to politics. Only Putin remains in power. Iraq continues in flames and we have in addition Syria the IS, Ukraine, and all the African conflicts.

I’m no longer in the newsroom. My health broke. My mom had an ictus and now is a paralytic, so she need us 24/7. And make a trip is out of the equation. Yes, things have changed a lot since 2007

Buffalo Nickel.

 

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Almost every day

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When was the last time someone told you they were proud of you?

A few hours ago. My mom always find some reason to tell me she’s proud of me. This time was because she says I’m the best at the task of transfer her from the bed to the wheelchair and from the wheelchair to the armchair.

I try to do it gently and calmly so she stays as comfortable and serene as possible during those transfers always complicated.

It’s something I do constantly. It was as if she were telling me she was proud of me for telling good morning each day. She caressed my hair while telling me how proud was of me when I was kneeling, lacing her shoes. One of those little moments I wouldn’t change for anything in this world.

Proud.

 

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Agree to Disagree: Mom

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Do you have a good friend or close relative with whom you disagree on a major issue (political, personal, cultural)? What’s the issue, and how do you make the relationship work?

My mom and I are in opposite sides in politics. She loves politics. At 94 years old, she reads two newspapers and watches several news shows every day. Several years ago she suffered an ictus and got paralyzed. But her mind works as fast as ever. Now I have to go to buy her the papers and this is a heroic act of love for her. One of the newspapers is so conservative and monarchist that I never ever would buy it and let people see me with it on the street. The kiosk vender must think I’m schizophrenic when I buy my newspaper and my mom’s. When she talks about politics, which is often, I listen and say little. We both know where we are and know we are not going to change, So why argue? No way. We disagree in many other things, from fashion (she would like to see me better dressed) to soccer (she’s a Real Madrid fan and I’m Barcelona’s) We have a lot of fun together watching matches. Usually we use to connect via whatsApp with all my sisters, nephews and nieces around Spain and Europe when there is a match transmitted in the TV to interchange comments. Usually I’m in minority because almost all are with Real Madrid. It’s really funny.

Back to my mom and me, I only can say that we can live with our disagreement because we love each other very much and our love is stronger than our differences.

I have also close relatives and close friends with whom I disagree in religious matters, but again, the friendship is stronger than the differences. And this would require another post.

Agree to Disagree.

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Prayer

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Describe a memory or encounter in which you considered your faith, religion, spirituality — or lack of — for the first time.

From I can remember I’ve prayed to God with faith. But I can remember a day when I had my first real prayer. A moment when I felt I was really talking with God. And it wasn’t in a church or while saying my prayers at night at my room. It happened in the street. I was walking across the square towards our home  with my family. It was Sunday. We had been at Mass and we had gone to a café to have a breakfast all together. We had stopped in a kiosk to buy comics. We were having a funny conversation, with my father, as always, making jokes. Suddenly I began to talk with God thanking him for my family using my own words, asking him about what he wanted from me. I felt he was listening and answering to my question. It was only a few seconds. Enough to discover what real prayer was.

In Good Faith.

 

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Sanctuary

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A sanctuary is a place you can escape to, to catch your breath and remember who you are. Write about the place you go to when everything is a bit too much.

Today is one of those days when I would like to disappear, and get lost in a deserted beach, to have a long walk by myself. The nasty noises from the street and my neighbors are sounding amplified in my head, hammering my brain, and getting on my nerves. There is no way to focus on what I’m writing. But I have nowhere to hide. I’m trapped at home. I can’t leave. My mom cannot stay alone. I only can go out when my sister come to take turns with me. And then, I have so many things to do when I go out, that is not restful at all. My real sanctuary these days is the old gothic church, next block. I can enter when I want, enjoy the silence, the beauty of the architecture, admire the light filtering through the colors of the  magnificent stained glass rose windows, feel seven centuries of history in its walls, columns and arches, and discover the tiny red candle by the tabernacle, get close and have there a little prayer. These visits give me peace.

Oasis.

 

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Not a pig

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If you could spend the next year as someone radically different from the current “you” — a member of a different species, someone from a different gender or generation, etc. — who would you choose to be?

Today my mom have been remembering old traditions from her youth. She told us that in the New Year’s Eve party, they always let loose a piglet and the revelers had to chase it. The one who finally caught it, was considered as blessed with good luck for the new year.

She also told us that the little pig is a sign of good luck because when is looking for food always digs forwards with its nose while the hen digs backwards with its legs. So, that’s the attitude: go forward in this new year like a pig. But I would not choose to be a pig for a year. They have short lives and end up  to frequently at the butcher.

New year, new life, they say. But in real life things stay the same. It’s just a day that follows another day. We celebrate the coming of the new year with the hope that it will be better than the old one.

But there are so many things that are not in our hands… The problems are still there. The good things also. If I had the opportunity to spent a year as someone radically different, I guess I would choose to be me, but with good health.

I could choose to be an angel to be close to God and live in complete happyness, but, what about my family and the care of my mom? I can’t leave them for so long. It would be so irresponsible. But being me with good health would be fantastic. I would be able to take care of them much better.

Happy New Year to everybody !

New Skin.

 

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My mom’s wheelchair

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If your furniture, appliances, and other inanimate objects at home had feelings and emotions, to which item would you owe the biggest apology?

The first thing that came to my mind was my mom’s wheelchair.

In fact it’s great, I don’t know what we would do without it. Thanks to it, my mom can move around the apartment, go out and go to the park to enjoy the fresh air when the weather is good, go to Mass… Without it, she would lay in bed all day.

The wheelchair has done a lot of services. It served my dad untill his death, years before my mom got ill. And it’s still working dutifully.

If I could talk with it I would say: “thank you so much for your services. But I own you an apology, because I hate you! I hate you with all my heart! I hate you because of what you represent. I hate you because all the pain and the slow decline I’ve seen around you. I’m sorry, wheelchair, you are really wonderful and I’m deeply grateful to you, but I can’t help myself. I hate you.”

 

 

 

Wronged Objects.

 

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No chances

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You were caught in an avalanche. To be rescued, you need to make it through the night. What thought(s) would give you the strength to go through such a scary, dangerous situation?

A night buried in snow? Chances are that I wouldn’t have survived. I guess I would have died frozen or suffocated, waiting for the rescue that will come too late.

What would be my thoughts in such a situation?

During WWII my father was made prisoner and their captors made a day execute him at dawn. My dad once told me that when he realized he was going to die in question of hours, first, came to his mind like a flash everything he have left at home and at his work unfinished. But that was only a second. Then, his mother and my mother who was his girlfriend then occupied all his thoughts. Finally, he realized he was going to die and meet his maker, so God filled his thoughts during those last hours waiting for the fatal moment. When he was aligned with the others convicted against the wall, a last-minute order arrived and he was spared.

I hope my thoughts would have been like my father’s: focused in my family and God. I would pray fervently asking as a first measure that the rescue teams have night equipment and arrive in time. Second, I would ask strength to overcome the ordeal. Third ask God to forgive my sins and have mercy of my soul to reach heaven after get definitely asleep under the snow.

What a dramatic prompt we had today!

 

Under the Snow.

 

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Bridges and flies

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We all have that one eccentric relative who always says and does the strangest things. In your family, who’s that person, and what is it that earned him/her that reputation?

I cannot think of anyone. We are a very normal family, with a pretty eventful history, and some artists among us, but everybody is quite reasonable.

My father had some eccentric friends but they were mostly people traumatized by the horrors of the Second World War. They were a source of a lot of anecdotes. But for me it’s not fun. It’s rather sad. I don’t like to remember.

Thanks God, my dad managed to survive with a clear mind, and was always a quiet man.

They use to think that artists are eccentric. I would like to have a funny stories about my cousins who are professional musicians. One of them with a sound study in his home. A rocker whose son is a pianist. From my childhood I have lived with music around, and I consider all what they do absolutely normal. They are not eccentric at all. They are absolutely normal people.

Maybe the more eccentric of the family it’s me. I’m afraid of bridges and I avoid them when I can, making detours if necessary for my companions’ desperation. I have also a sister who is afraid of flies like they were wasps.

These are the more strange things I have found in my very normal family.

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Cousin It.”

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A painting

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What’s the best present you’ve ever received that was handmade by the giver, not store-bought? Tell us what made it so special.

Christmas 2007. I had just moved to my new apartment. My sister surprised me with her gift. A painting made by herself. She’s an artist. She likes the naïf style. I was expecting something like a landscape or a rural scene, full of colours, but instead she surprised me with a portrait: my dad as a young man. She got inspired in an old picture in which my father appears looking towards the horizon from the deck of a ship.

She knew that everything about my father is special to me. I miss him so much! No matter how long have been since he passed away, it seems it have been yesterday.

I miss his blue eyes and his smile. I miss his good sense of humor and his wisdom. I miss our long talks and our quiet walks.

Now the portrait that my sister made has a place of honour in my home.

 

By Hand.

 

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Slow down

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Fill in the blank: “Life is too short to _____.” Now, write a post telling us how you’ve come to that conclusion.

Life is too short to live it too fast.

Our society pushes us to do many things in a short time and live in a constant rush, so we can lost sight of the important things in life.

I have worked for thirty years intensely, without schedules, with a lot of stress, thinking I was doing the right thing, untill I suddenly found myself in my fifties, sick and exhausted having lost important moments with my family. It was like awakening from a long dream.

I don’t regret of my entire professional life, but I certainly would like it would’ve been less intense, with more time to dedicate to my family and the things that are important to me. Now there is no way back. I lived too fast. And life is too short. Those years of youth with my family are gone. I have to take advantage of the present moment and the years to come to enjoy life with my loved ones at a slower pace.

No Time to Waste.

 

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Non ti scordar di me

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You’re asked to recite a poem (or song lyrics) from memory — what’s the first one that comes to mind? Does it have a special meaning, or is there another reason it has stayed, intact, in your mind?

The first poem that come to my mind is the Pirate’s song of José de Espronceda, because I learned by heart when I was a child in school. there were other poems we had to learn by heart, but were a bit corny and I didn’t like them, so I forgot them This one was great, talking about cannons and sails and adventures on the seven seas. I used to play to the pirates with my brother and my sisters all the time. The poem brings me sweet memories from my childhood.
I found a translation made by James Kennedy. I’ll copy for you the begining of the poem so you can have an idea of how it goes:

The breeze fair aft, all sails on high,
Ten guns on each side mounted seen,
She does not cut the sea, but fly,
A swiftly sailing brigantine;
A pirate bark, the “Dreaded” named,
For her surpassing boldness famed,
On every sea well-known and shore,
From side to side their boundaries o’er.
The moon in streaks the waves illumes
Hoarse groans the wind the rigging through;
In gentle motion raised assumes
The sea a silvery shade with blue;

Wonderful verses to a child imagination. This is the Pirate’s moto that appears several times during the poem:

“My treasure is my gallant bark,
My only God is liberty;
My law is might, the wind my mark,
My country is the sea.”

About the songs, the first one I remember is always an Italian one, because it was the last one I heard my father sing before his death. He was in his hospital bed almost unable to move and talk. He was with his eyes closed as if sleeping. The TV in the room was on, and there was a program about the three tenors. Luciano Pavarotti began to sing “Non ti scordar di me” (Don’t forget about me) and suddenly my dad said: “I know this song”. And he began to sing with his frail voice to me:

Don’t forget about me:
My life is tied to you
I love you more and more
In my dream you stay

Don’t forget about me
My life is tied to you
There’s always a nest
In my heart for you

Don’t forget about me

Don’t forget about me

Three days after that, he died. That song stayed engraved in my mind for ever.

By Heart.

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Gomiguan

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Many of us had imaginary friends as young children. If your imaginary friend grew up alongside you, what would his/her/its life be like today? (Didn’t have one? write about a non-imaginary friend you haven’t seen since childhood.)

I don’t remember having an imaginary friend, but my younger sister Ana had one. He had a name – Gomiguan- and he was pink, although he was invisible for everyone except for her. She had insisted to set a place on the table for him next to her for dinner and I don’t know how my mom accepted. I guess it was because Ana was the youngest in the house, her baby girl. Ana had big conversations with Gomiguan, and spent a lot of time playing with him.

I remember that my older sister was a little concerned with all that. She thought it was lasting too much.

One of those years, we received as a gift a kitty. My older sister had an idea and said to Ana, pointing to the little animal: Look! Gomiguan has become a cat. She looked a little confused for a few instants but soon began to run after the kitty, calling him Gomiguan!, Gomiguan!.

From that day my sister stopped talking to the air, began to play with the rest of us and there were no need of an extra place in the table for an invisible friend.

 

Imaginary Friend.

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Immortal soul and early terrors

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At what age did you realize you were not immortal? How did you react to that discovery?

I really don’t remember, but it must be at a very early age because death visited my family when I was very small and my parents surely explained to me what was all about. Including something I firmly believe: that my soul is immortal and after this life there is something else, much better, close to God. So my actions are not indifferent. I also believe that I’ll see again my loved ones who are gone. Because love doesn’t die either.

Back to my early reaction. I remember as a child wishing to die the day of the last judgment, because I didn’t want to have my body rotting in a grave.  I thought I was going to stay conscious and feel all that process as if I had been alive. I was terrified and had nightmares. My dad asked me what was the matter, and he explained me how things are so I stopped thinking that way and never had those nightmares again.

I also remember that when I was small I had something wrong in my leg, so I fell down often while playing in school. Once I asked my teacher why older people didn’t fall. She answered because if they fell they would die. Of course I believed her blindly. Next Sunday, we were going for a walk with my parents. My brother and I went ahead running down the stairs from the sixth floor where we lived to wait for my parents at the door of the building. Suddenly we hear a noise and saw my father’s cigarettes falling through the hole of the stairs. Obviously he had fallen. Then we hear my mom’s voice laughing. I thought horrified How my mom could laugh when my dad had died?.

When we saw both of them coming down smiling and talking, I realised my teacher had deceived me. My father had fallen And he had not died. My mom was laughing because nothing happened and the situation was funny.

Finite Creatures.

 

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My uncle

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What’s your earliest memory involving another person? Recreate the scene — from the other person’s perspective.

“So this is my niece. Cute. I hope she’ll be quiet. I’m here to spend as much time as possible with my sister, not to entertain children. It’s been so long since we were together last time! Years. We have a lot of things to talk about. With all this kids around, here in the park, it’s not easy. We’ll have time later at home, I hope.”

My first memory involving another person is being in a park with my uncle Tom. He was holding me with his strong arms and we were watching a beautiful landscape from a balcony over a valley. Later I learned that he came to visit my mom after years of absence. They were very close and loved each other very much. But life had separated them. He was young (36) and handsome. He was married but had no children yet. One day he said to his wife: let’s go to see my sister. And without more explanations, he hit the road and traveled all the way to Pamplona. They stayed with us three days, and then they said good-by and went back to their city. two days later we received a telegram with the news that he had died of a heart attack while sleeping. The next memory I have is my mom’s sorrow. I had never seen my mom so sad, crying, all dressed in black. Maybe this is why I remember that moment with my Uncle Tom in spite I was so small.

 

Reverse Shot.

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Family

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How would you get along with your sibling(s), parent(s), or any other person you’ve known for a long time — if you only met them for the first time today?

You mean knowing they are family? I think I’d get along beautifully.

I have some experience. For a long time I’ve been forcefully separated from my family in Croatia. I met my aunts, uncles and cousins for the first time when I was 28 and I traveled for the first time to the Country.

I found lovely people, very happy to meet me after so many years. There were from the beginning some complicity and confidence you can only find in family bonds. We instantly got along very well despite we were technically complete strangers to the point that we needed pictures to recognize each other at the airport.

We are a close family. No major problems among us.

What would happen if I met for the first time my sister today not knowing she’s family? I’m sure I would try to become her friend, because I admire her so much because of her attractive personality, her good humor, her smile, and her virtues, that I’m positive she would leave a great impression on me from second one.

Delayed Contact.

 

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Work?

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If money were out of the equation, would you still work? If yes, why, and how much? If not, what would you do with your free time?

Work now would be a blessing to me. I had to leave my job because of my lack of health. And it’s hard to get used to this new situation. But I have no other chance. That’s life. I miss badly my newsroom, my colleagues, going out  in search for news, the thrill of getting an exclusive or some breaking news. Now I have to watch the game from behind the barrier and I don’t like it at all.

What I don’t miss are the sleepless nights, the long hours of work without schedules, the disorder and the lack of free time to spend with my family and my friends.

If health were out of the equation as well as money, I would work again as a Journalist. But this time as a  freelancer. This way I would be able to control better how much time I want to devote to my work and how much to my family.

Miracles don’t happen so often, and I don’t think I’ll recover my health. So I guess I’m going to spend my time doing house chores, blogging when I can, and, above all, taking care of my ailing mom, a real privilege for me.

Work? Optional!.