Less than a week ago I was contemplating…..Contemplating my father’s reaction upon seeing his special delivery.  That of his three grown daughters falling from the sky to land on the front of his stoop, surprising him at his home in Arizona.  Two coming from the state of Texas, one from St. Louis, Missouri.

After arriving by plane and renting a car, we parked a few feet away to slither to the front of his house like a local rattle snake, albeit one without any venom.  Giggling like school girls we were nervous to knock on his massive wooden door nearly six inches thick.  “You do it,” my middle sister said.  “No, you,” I responded, jiggling the skinny of her arm in gleeful anticipation.  Finally, our youngest sister pushed both of us out of the way, rolling sapphire eyes in mock disgust.  “Tap, tap, tap,” her knuckles loudly rapped.

Today, I’m reflecting……Reflecting upon every moment spent with my father.  The whole of each second is stuffed inside denim pockets or hidden within silken folds of wrinkled shirtsleeves waiting to be unpacked.  Before I shake them out I must push them deep to the far corners of my mind, lest they forever be lost.  Every joke and laugh, smile and tilt of his head, hug, silly story told, family minute and clink of our glasses to cheer our past.  This I must remember for all my future it must last.

My father was totally surprised when he opened the door, nearly falling to his knees with a look of shock and joy.  My sisters and I sat with Dad on a western sofa while he finished his curly chicken noodle soup to tell him of our plans for the next few days.  It was the first time he did not balk at our staying in a hotel.  Truth be told, I think he was a bit relieved since he was recuperating from Vertigo.  He needed to rest, after all.

Around a table of square that evening, girls with giggles shared wine of liquid red from bubbled glasses clear.  Later, in the shadows of a stark hotel room, whispered voices wafted over down comforters, reminiscing of long ago youth.  Stories of high school days, cheerleading, old boyfriends with shoulder length hair and parties where record players blared.  Mind photos of mini-skirts, bell bottom pants, first cars and learning lines in plays.

The next day my two younger brothers joined us.  It was the first time we were all together in nearly four years.  There were smiles and laughter with a little bit of teasing now and again for old time’s sake.  We nibbled on cubes of cheese like scampering mice while snapping pictures with camera phones.  Later, under twinkling stars in the blackest sky we sang Karaoke songs to the top of our lungs.   Eyes glowed fluorescent green in the luster of a yellow moon, and if one looked close enough, scraggly coyotes scattered every which way.

On our last day together, we all shared a grand lunch followed by visiting relatives while enjoying the desert sun.  We prayed over my aunt’s struggling fruit trees, and shared a delicious pink grapefruit, freshly picked.  My youngest sister, who recently passed her Personal Training certification gave my father a lesson in Yoga, much to all of our delight!  A picture of him in the CHI position is my very favorite, one I shall treasure always.

In reflecting upon my trip to Arizona, I had the greatest time with my sisters, my brothers and of course, my father too.  It seems like weeks were packed into a small duffel of four days.  The CHI picture is my fondest reflection of my father.  His love of life, all people and especially family.   I do not take my time with him for granted.  Not one minute nor a second on the clock.  Every moment that I think of him is a reflection, a mirror on the wall, a ticking watch wrapped around my wrist forever to remind me.






Sisters…Friends Forever

Sisters…I’ve had them in my life for over fifty years. 

Middle’ Sister was born on a snowy Christmas Eve morn while little brother and I searched Santa’s treasures under whiffs of a fat needled tree.  Santa brought me a cherished doll that holiday.  Perhaps it was something to love me.  Soon Mama would be very busy with her own baby doll of new.

I remember hearing big tires drive-up on crushed pebbled stone.  Sound my ears heard before the car engine stopped.  Two heads peeked up and over the back of sofa springs to see out window panes in our itty-bitty house of asphalt shingled pink.

Through the front looking-glass, my budding brother and I saw Daddy-So-Young hurry to get out of our old weathered car.  Running to the other side, he opened Mama’s door.  Carefully, he lifted something from her arms.  What could it be?  Another gift for under the tree?  Cradling a pink bundle of newness in his big strong arms, Daddy helped Mamma gingerly step out onto that same crushed stone.  “Careful,” he said.

Inside our front door we gathered round our tiny living room.  The special Christmas present sounded like a mewing kitten.  Oh, how wonderful it would be!  No, beneath the pink flannel blanket lay tiny lids with lashes so long.  Creamy skin with yellow downy hair peeking out.  Snowflakes fell while melodies of Christmas Carols drifted from an old radio. Little brother saddled-up his rocking horse while “Chatty Cathy” looked at me from under silver tinsel smelling like pine.  I pulled on a white plastic “O” behind her head before carefully letting it go.  “I love you,” she said, over and over and over again.

Six years later my youngest sister was born on a fresh spring afternoon.  While laboring in the same hospital, my paternal grandfather lay dying of cancer a mere elevator button below.  Push…push.  Down, down.  My father’s heart broke with grief.  His own father’s life slipped away day by day.  Push…push.  Up, up.  Ecstatic joy.  God’s miracle bringing a very first cry of breath into this world.  Tears down cheeks…. Why now God, why?  The cycle of life.

It’s been many, many years since the three of us…. SISTERS…. have been able to get together…really together.  As adults, we have always lived so far apart from one another.  States apart.  Finally it was time.  An added plus was having my niece there to visit with us. She looks so much like her beautiful mother.  Truly, they look more like sisters themselves than mother and daughter.  Too, my brother-in-law was home as often as he could be.  The perfect host.  He cooked like a gourmet chef, drove us around like a limo-driver, and often laughed together with the rest of us.

It was the perfect time to relax, to talk and giggle from the deep of our bellies to the very tips of our toes.  We cried until we hugged in our little group of three while telling secrets of long ago.  Sometimes we bared our souls.  No longer little girls or young mothers who had dragged children across floors from pant legs, after all these years we had finally grown-up.

Chronic Conditions was a distant topic during this visit.  Various long-term illnesses have affected our families in one way or another throughout the years.  We empathize with each other and are bonded by them in a way.  Still, on this special visit, we got together without any specific plan or any list of things to do.  From one day to the next, we saw the world anew.

Each morning before the sun rose over my sister’s fence, I swam in her aquamarine pool.  The fresh cool water cleared the cobwebs from my mind while relaxing my body together with my spirit.  In the evening, the three of us sat by the candlelit water, talking until wee, wee hours of the morning while drinking red wine.  Afraid to go to bed, for fear we might miss something said!

Some days our merry group of three shopped in little boutiques for things we didn’t need but purchased ‘just because.’  We strolled along paths of Plano, Texas, stopping to taste the ice of gelato.  There, we let it melt until it slid down the back of our throats to cool the bottoms of our toasted, dry bellies.

One late afternoon, we discovered a delightful sidewalk café where guitar music strummed behind the wafting scents of Spanish food.  We ate a light appetizer while sipping the proprietor’s famous strawberry mojitos.  Such a nice waiter we had together with excellent service.  “Mariano” was his name, and I was proud to pronounce it like he did, with a roll of the tongue.  Ma..r’….iano.  No doubt, I repeated it more often than necessary.  So lyrical was the sound of his name.  Mariano.

My sisters and I had the most fun of all that afternoon.  Sitting in the open air with a slight blowing breeze we said whatever came to mind, without a care in the world.  We made patio friends with everyone!  “Mariano…”  Mariano….My youngest sister kept calling him “Mario.”  Silly we were by then.  I have to clarify by saying we are lightweights in the drinking department.  Although I dare say we had a better time than anyone on that outdoor patio, we drank no more than two drinks apiece!

Today, I am back to refreshed reality, but closer to my two sisters than ever before.  I can tell them anything.  They are and always will be my very best friends.  How I wish we lived closer to each other.  Until then, more trips like the one above are promised to each other each and every year.

Sisters…Friends Forever.