Friday, December 11, 2009

My Daddy

In 1997 when my husband and I seperated my boys and I moved in with my parents.  At this time my dad had been living with Parkinsons for about 10 years.   My dad was almost completely blind, as he lost circulation in blood vessels behind his eyes.  My dad was still very active and the Dementia had not yet set in.  During the first year of living with my parents, I worked full time, and everything was good.  I’ll never forget how strange it was when my dad start asking about his mother, wondering where she was, asking me to call relatives to meet us for breakfast that we hadn’t seen in years because of a family fued.  That always happened first thing in the morning, seemed like that’s when he was most confused.  As the day progressed he got better.  Well, that didn’t last.  In no time the Sundowners came about.  That was crazy.  Mornings were basically okay, my dad would be a little bit confused, when the sun start going down, in the early evenings, all hell broke loose.  My dad would go outside and somedays it was impossible to get him in the house.  He would have the waterhose in the front yard, stretching it as far as it would go, and he watered everyone’s yard he could.  He would put the sprinkler in the middle of the street.  I would try to get him in the house and he would curse me, telling me to go in.  And things didn’t get better.  I can’t believe how fast the Parkinsons and Dementia worked against him.  It was awful watching him go through it.  Soon I wasn’t able to work, I had to stay home because he would become agressive with my mom, and he would want to go visiting.  We went through this for 4 years.  Finally it got so bad that he had to go to a convalescent home.  It was terrible, watching my dad go from this strong healthy, mechanic, fixer of everything, jack of all trades, to this suffering, sad, depressed little old man.  My dad went in a convalescent home 7 months before his death.  I was there with him everyday for a couple of hours a day.  He didn’t know people who would come and visit him but he always called me by my name, he always responded to me.  I’ll never forget when he was dying, my siblings came in like vultures, they sat by his bedside for three days.  I went in the room and my brother was sitting there with my dad.  My brother said, he won’t talk to me, I can’t get him to respond to anything.  I went and sat by my dads side, I took his little shriveled hand in mine, peeked through the bed rail and said “Hi Daddy”.  He opened his eyes, looked toward me and gave me the biggest smile ever.  I will never forget that smile as long as I live.  My brother won’t either.  He stood up and walked out of the room.  That was my goodbye to my dad.  When I left that day I kissed him, told him I loved him and said goodbye.  My siblings went back for another day to sit and wait for my dad to die.  I miss my daddy so much, its been 6 and a half years since he’s been gone.  But I know that he loved me and I know that he is proud of me for taking care of my mom.  And this means the world to me.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Happy Anniversary!!

This is Steve and I with our sons and grandsons :)

Today is the 15th Anniversary of the Day I was married to Steven D. Hobson.  We had been together almost 7 years when we were married and already had two children together.  On the day of our marriage our household consisted of 2 adults and 5 children, he had 3 children from a previous marriage.  It was not your typical wedding day, by all means.  The house was filled with anger that day, it was an awful day.  There was screaming and yelling and lots of tears.  In fact, my youngest stepdaughter, who was 13, chose not to go to our wedding, so she stayed home alone.  I, in no way wanted to be married that day, it was the last day our marriage license was valid.  Steve and I thought we were doing the right thing by marrying.  We had two children together and were raising the three he had already.  There is no need to go into all the bad that happened prior to this day, so I will tell you the wonderful things that did happen.  When Steve and I first started dating I was a drug addicted, and without him and his kids, I don’t know what would of happened to me.  We also had two beautiful boys together and have raised together.  I have 3 wonderful grandsons, 2 from one of my stepdaughters and 1 from the other.  More than anything, I am so blessed now because my husband and I are great friends.  I can’t imagine ever living with him again but I certainly can’t imagine living without him.  We have set our differences aside, which was not easy, and we have raised our boys together.  We support each other and confide in each other.  I am so blessed by his presence in my life.  My husband Steve is now a Christian man, he is a wonderful father, and a very dear friend.  When my stepdaughter Annie passed away in 2008, it brought us even closer together.  I am so glad we were friends at that time, I can’t imagine how either of us would have made it had we not been.  I guess what I am trying to say is that I love Steve.  I am not in love with him, but I love him with all my heart.  Happy Anniversary Steve.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Almost 51 years ago, I celebrated my first Christmas.  I am sure that day was a happy occasion filled with lots of food and drink, lots of family and lots of gift giving.  This picture I have posted is of my siblings, myself and my cousin John, who is one month older than me.  I am sitting on the lap of my oldest sister Judy and to our left is my sister Nila, who was 2 at the time and my brother David, age 6.
Our Christmas celebration lasted probably 3 or 4 days, maybe a week sometimes, and now that I look back on it, I don’t remember the true meaning of Christmas ever being shared during that time.  I wonder at what age I finally knew that this day was celebrated because of the birth of Jesus Christ.  I was raised in the Catholic Religion so I know that when I was old enough to understand what was happening at Church I knew what Christmas was about, but before then puzzles me.
In raising my step children and my own children, it was always about the birth of Jesus.  We, as a family, went to church, my children were involved in Christmas programs at church and we prayed together as a family, celebrating the true meaning of Christmas.
Sure there were presents and food and family but the meaning was there, the Celebration of the Birth of Christ was and is the reason for the holiday.
This Christmas will be different in the sense that it will probably just be my boys, their dad, my mom and I.  There will be food, there will be family, there may be a few gifts but the reason for the season, JESUS, will be in our hearts and in our home.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Tamales Tamales Tamales

When I was growing up, one of my favorite family Holiday traditions was making Tamales.  My dad would usually have vacation during the time us kids were out of school.  He and my mom would make probably 100 dozen tamales. My job in the process was to clean the corn husks.  This job went on for days. If you have never cleaned corn husks, the ones you buy in a bag at the store, you need to try it.  They are dry, and they have all this fine hair and dirt in them.  You can’t get them too wet because they can’t be soggy when you spread masa on them.
My dad was a perfectionist.  He knew the exact moment to take the corn husks out of the water and star unrolling them to take the strings and dirt out of them.  I would stand at the sink for hours doing this, always under the watchful eye of my dad.  There was no way I could do anything wrong, he was always watching me, I don’t understand how he got so much else done!!!  But he did.
He and my mom were amazing.  They would have all the burners on the stove going, pork roasts would be cooking, you could smell the garlic and bay leaves they were simmering with.  Once the meat was cooked, it would go on huge cutting board on the table and my dad would cut the meat up while my mom was making the Mole, that’s the red gravy they smother your food with when you go out for Mexican food.  Once the Mole was made, my mom would combine the meat with it while my dad was preparing the already prepared Masa, that’s the dough that’s around the meat in the tamale.  He bought the Masa prepared, so he didn’t have to do anything to it, but he would knead and season and taste that raw dough until it was perfect.  Once it was perfect, that’s when the fun began.
We, as a family, sat around the kitchen table, under the watchful eye of my dad, spreading masa on corn husks.  We used plastic spatulas for this process, and my daddy knew the EXACT amount of masa we needed for each corn husk.  As I mentioned earlier, this Happy Event usually took place during our Christmas Vacation, you know the time when all the kids are going to parties and such, well, we didn’t have to make tamales but if we didn’t, we couldn’t go out with our friends, talk on the phone, watch t.v. or anything else for that matter.  So, it really was a Family tradition.
Once the masa was spread on the corn husks, my mom would take the corn husk fill it with meat and mole, fold the husk and stand the tamale up in this HUGE pressure cooker we had.  The pressure cooker was the first one that Montgomery Wards ever made, my Granny used to use it to can meat, before there were Freezers!!!  It was made in the early 1900s.  I’m going to try to get a picture of it, so I can show you, sometime what I am talking about.
Anyway, this pressure cooker would hold about 10 dozen tamales.  Once the tamales were all in the pressure cooker and the mess was cleaned up, we were free for awhile and by that time it was already bed time so we would sleep, knowing that in the morning we were having yummy tamales for breakfast.  Lunch and dinner during the tamale making process usually consisted of bologna sandwiches, Laura Scudder’s barbeque potato chips and pepsi.
In the morning, my mom and dad would carefully wrap a dozen tamales in aluminum foil, then in a plastic bag.  A piece of paper was placed inside the bag, with the date the tamales were made.  These then went in the deep freezer, with a couple of dozen kept out for family and friends. This process went on for days and like I said we made 100 dozen tamales, if not more, each year.  My mom and dad had the reputation of making the best tamales ever.
It was a great feeling to be able to take a dozen tamales to my friends and know what a wonderful gift I was giving.  Our family, mostly on my dad’s side, the Gringos, would come for the holidays and they would brag and boast about the tamales for hours.  What a great feeling to know I was part of that.  It was not always a fun thing to do but the reaping the rewards was something I couldn’t explain.  Making Tamales is probably my most favorite holiday tradition because it included just my immediate family.