Looks Like We Made It: Looking For Home 1.2

Please note that while we are sharing our memoir it is a work in progress.  The title “Looks Like We Made It” is a working title.  The words in the chapters are are also a work in progress.  This is not a final copy, but rather a chance to share our story.

Looking For Home

Looks Like We Made It

Chapter 1.2

Norah

I stared out the window on a crisp Colorado fall morning, the leaves changed in color and all had almost fallen to the ground, waiting for the wind to blow them away. Some leaves remained on branches, but very few. I often wondered how they hung on. I loved fall, it was always my favorite season. The sun shining through the almost naked trees and the beauty in the colors calms me. With the cold weather approaching some leaves would freeze and be held to the ground. I too had changed in color, but I was still attached to the tree by a small branch prepared for the wind to take me to a beautiful place not aware that winter would soon come and I would be frozen to the cold ground. I was headed in a different direction and speed I was not expecting.

That morning I thought I had the flu.  My mom went to work leaving me home alone even though I was throwing up. The morning air was cold and, I wiped the frost off my bedroom window in order to watch her drive away. I quickly got right back in my bed half mad that she left me alone and half glad that I was all alone. Even though at times I wished she was what I considered to be a normal parent I was safer spending less time with her. I couldn’t have a single conversation that did not include how tired she was and how I could be doing so much more to help her out. The more I did, the more resentful I became, especially when what I did was never up to her standards and she never thanked me. I quickly reminded myself she was now a single parent and could not afford to miss a day’s worth of pay.

This structure that once held laughter, good food and salsa music, this place that often smelled of pine sol and simmering sofrito was quiet, dim, and fragrance free. The year prior the place I called home became infested with sobs, angry outburst and bitterness. Salsa music no longer played unless my mother played it to pretend she was whole and happy. She was good at pretending. I no longer smelled the scents of my father’s favorite things in life, a clean home and his favorite Puerto Rican foods cooking. My mom’s way of showing love was through acts of service and she served my father in hopes to keep him happy and lacking for anything. He was her pride a joy, a service man. Growing up her eyes twinkled when he dressed in his class “A” army uniform. It had been a year since I had seen her look at him in this way. This house had changed not only in name but mostly in feelings. A year prior our home changed into a house when my father packed his personal belongs, when he was asked to leave. My mother could no longer live with a man that she could not trust.

When I sat in my bed, I was all alone. I felt out of place in this unfamiliar environment. All of the possessions inside looked familiar and even inviting but I was quickly reminded that the things inside are all for show. Being at our house made me feel desperate to exit.  Each one of my family members pulled in separate directions in search for a place to live, a place to call home. Our family house was a place that we each resided in, a roof over our head not a place we lived. A place where you live would imply that life was happening and it wasn’t.  We slept on occasion under this shared roof but we did not share the same family connection we had when our father was here.

I had to get out of bed before I threw up again, I walked passed my mother’s room on the way to the bathroom.  This once was my parents room, once a shared space. Now it felt like a dark cave. I avoided going in this room unless my mother would call me in there. Growing up my parents bedroom was where I would most often find my father under the blankets on weekend mornings. Being in the army we moved a lot, but my parents bedroom still held the same meaning to me, even if it wasn’t physically the same room. My dad loved to sleep in after a long weeks worth of work. It was known by all of us that as soon as dad got up we would be doing something fun as a family. It was a Saturday tradition to go shopping, to a movie and out to eat. Some mornings I would hear my parents talking through our bedroom walls, this is how I knew family fun time was approaching. I would jump in the bed with them both, if their conversation wasn’t over they would start to speak in spanish. They knew that I could understand most of what they were saying so they invented their own code language of spanish to discourage me from trying to figure out what they were saying. It was their own secret language. When my dad wasn’t moving fast enough for my liking I would start to push him with my legs. He was so much bigger than me so I would squeeze my body between my parents position both my legs, one his mid back the other on his butt and rock him back and forth acting as if I was going to push him out of the bed. I would continue this as I begged him to get out of bed, “come on daddy get up please, let’s go now, you take forever to get ready.” In time he would give in to my begging and sit up and off I would run to my room to get dressed. But there was no longer any signs of my father in that bedroom, nothing to show that an Army soldier once slept next to my mother.

I was hunched over the toilet wishing my dad was there. I wanted someone to take care of me. But my dad became the parent I saw every other weekend. Some of our weekend visits felt long and drawn out, we were growing apart as father and daughter.  I dreaded hearing his car pull up and tried to prepare myself to act as if I were excited. My parents separation and divorce came right at a time that I believed most girls grew attached to their fathers, at thirteen years our relationship suffered. It was uncomfortable being alone with him. Our time together felt unnatural and forced. Our conversations lacked closeness. I grew up watching sitcoms like The Cosby’s and Growing Pains and I would often dream of my family sharing that kind of closeness. Why couldn’t we sit around a dinner table and share conversations that were relevant to a pre teen girl. These television families would always find a solution to whatever disagreement they had. My family’s lack in good comunication forced me to close myself in, I couldn’t share what was really going on in my life, I couldn’t be the real me, instead I pretended to be his innocent baby girl. A obedient child that always did what she was told.

My mom became distracted and disconnected in her newfound freedom. She wanted to prove to my father how she didn’t need him any longer. She was working full time and started to make friends. Most of our conversations were based on whether or not I had done my chores. She did not react well in an untidy home. So to her a clean house was priority even over homework. This became a task that was mostly mine. Deep down in her Puerto Rican upbringing it was the woman’s “job” to do the household chores not the men’s. We had a big house at the time my parents separated. They bought this house to make a permanent home for our family. Growing up we had lived in several army bases, I could only recall one other time we lived in an actual house. It was a house my parents built from the grown up in North Carolina. We did not live there long, I often wonder why. So this being the family home my parents chose after building a home, was very spacious. It had three stories and we each had our own bedrooms. I loved this house, I especially loved the stairs, one lead to my bedroom and the other to the family room. I loved the stairs mainly because prior to this home stairs only lead to basements. Basements for mostly storge, nothing fun. These stairs lead to rooms that reflected each occupant’s personality, rooms that once were filled with the laughter.   

I would pass my brothers in the hallway that separated our rooms as we headed out to school, or at least they were pretending they were going to school for my mom’s sake. When school was over they were always out with their friends and girlfriends. The saturday mornings in our pjs eating Captain Crunch watching Tom and Jerry were long gone. Waking up I would pass by empty bedrooms. Not only was my dad missing from his bed but if my brothers had come home in the evening they would be long gone before I had much of a chance to interact with them. I had no idea where they went and they never included me in whatever they did. Being the youngest of us and a 13 year old girl I required the most guidance. The kind of guidance that would prepare me for life, love and relationship. I was not prepared for any of the above and I set out to find a place where I could feel connected to someone where I could share who I was, I wanted to belong. I did not want to feel alone in the world, unloved, or uncared for.

As the distance in my family grew wider and wider. I continued to search for the attention I desperately needed. I found every reason to not be at home because inside those walls resided only people and not a family. There was a huge void in my life that my boyfriend instantly filled the day I met him.  He became my entire world, he became my home.

Norah

Norah

A wife to a man in wheels. Sharing my life with all of the struggles in hopes to open up the highways of understanding, compassion, love, and hope.  Follow me as I tread through.

Keep Rolling On With Us On Social Media

Today marks 22 years of marriage and to many more! #keeprollingon

A photo posted by @thewheelsofgrace on

We share our stories not so you know what we've been through, but so you're not afraid to share your own. Tell us, what's your story?

Posted by The Wheels of Grace on Monday, February 22, 2016

The Image of Me

Forgiveness what does it mean? The definition of forgiveness is to stop feeling angry or resentful towards someone for an offense, flaw, or mistake. This makes sense when you’re the one giving forgiveness, but I lived on the other side. I was looking to be...
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Looks Like We Made It: Looking For Home 1.2

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Writing Hurts

This week I spent some time editing our book, which is almost always an emotional endeavor.  I reached back into my past when I was 13 years old, the time in my life when my parents were separated and I became pregnant.  During this time so much of my life changed in rapid speed.  

I have read, reread, and edited these pages numerous times that they have became familiar, but I must push passed the just telling my story stage, into navigating my heart. While venturing my heart I was able to spill my emotions on paper. I do not want to leave out any details that would show how far I have traveled to get where I am today.  I made one promise when deciding to write a memoir, that I would open myself up fully by being transparent and honest with who I was and who I have become.   The desire has always been to share the good, the bad and the ugly with the hopes of inspiring others to do the same. For others like me to believe in themselves and fight to gain control of whatever situation they may encounter.  So why did this process bring me to tears even when I have already exposed so much of myself for years now?  As I continued to write I am pained by all this character endured.  As if I am an entire other person empathizing with my 13 year old self.  This part of the book is leading into how my path changed.  As I continued to type I started to sob uncontrollably and not able to read my own words.  

My family and I have been working on our book for years now and we get together and read aloud some of our edited work, I almost always cry at Sergio’s and Ashley’s words.  This week was a challenge for me, I wrote for the most part alone and there is something about writing out your feelings of loneliness.  I cried more than usual, actually shocking myself when my cries turned into sobs.  After talking to myself and doing some self reflection I realized where these feelings were coming.  I initially started crying because I was grieving my past.  I was treading down the dark road with no light and I was alone. In time my tears changed to tears of joy.  I am grateful that I gained the ability to break away for the chains that held me down.  I am now free to live my life with an open heart.  A heart willing to receive grace and mercy.  This is who I am today,  I am no longer a confused young girl, I am a saved woman.  I cried this week because I am still living out my dream of one day seeing a completed story full of loss and pain come to full circle to becoming one of compassion, grace, love and overcoming hardships.

When I felt that I was weak for getting so emotional over my past I realized that I was actually being strong and brave by allowing my emotions to naturally grieve the person I once was and to celebrate with tears that I am not her anymore. I am proud of myself for wanting to open up my life for others to read with the dream of one day inspiring and touching lives.  When we started this process I knew that at times it would get hard.   That was an understatement as I quickly learned how emotional writing about your own life can be.  I push myself through and in the end of the each writing experience I am able to see why I survived, and why I had to endure so many obstacles in the first place.
I encourage you to share events in your life that have made you stronger.  Start by sharing the tough stuff that has shaped you and that has opened your heart.  As you navigate your heart stop and reflect on how much you have changed.  Think of those times when you felt that you were at your lowest and how freeing it feels to see yourself come full circle.  So many of us have experienced similar situations and yet we do not know it.  Someone we may encounter is going through hardships right now.  Reach out and share your story, you never know who you may inspire to Keep Rolling On.

Norah

Norah

 

 

A wife to a man in wheels. Sharing my life with all of the struggles in hopes to open up the highways of understanding, compassion, love, and hope.  Follow me as I tread through.

Keep Rolling On With Us On Social Media

Today marks 22 years of marriage and to many more! #keeprollingon

A photo posted by @thewheelsofgrace on

We share our stories not so you know what we've been through, but so you're not afraid to share your own. Tell us, what's your story?

Posted by The Wheels of Grace on Monday, February 22, 2016

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Take Care of You in 2017

2017, What in the world!  How are we here so quickly?  They say with age years go by faster and faster.  Does this mean I am getting old?  Who came up with this conclusion anyways?  Slow down life, just a little would ya please?

While I am thinking about putting away all the holiday decorations I instead reminisce about this past year and plan on the year ahead.  I love fresh starts, and clean slates not only for myself but I also love to hear what others have in mind. What will they make of this new opportunity, what will they be writing in this new chapter of life? I am always excited to hear about others ideas and their plans of new adventures.  I love to share on a personal level. Not the hey I am going to lose weight and exercise more kind of list but the more person stuff, like spiritual growth and spending time with loved ones.  I am not saying that the getting healthy stuff doesn’t matter and that a desire to be physically healthy is not a good thing.  Go on eating well, exercising and drinking that water. I plan on that too.  What I am saying is that any growth and change comes from the inside.  It comes from the mind.  Our minds are the most powerful source of energy.  The kind of energy that can transform.  Being well in our minds takes care of being well physically.  If we take time to take care of ourselves on the inside we can move mountains.  At least conquer them.  One step at a time.

So before I set out into this new year I pledge to take care of myself in the inside and this is how.

Rest (I struggle in this depart that is why it is first)

Read meaning words

Visits with people that inspire me

Watch movies that touch my soul

Do devotions

Meditate

Read scripture

Listen to music

Take baths

Pamper myself a little or a lot

Laugh (not a giggle but a full belly laugh)

Say positive things about myself

Say positive things about others

Pray daily

Listen with my heart

Speak kindly

Give myself and others grace

Forgive often

Show love

Respect others

Share my heart

Be a good friend

Encourage others to share their story

What are your plans for the new year?  What will the words in the 2017 chapter read?

Remember that no matter what comes your way Keep Rolling On!

Norah

Norah

A wife to a man in wheels. Sharing my life with all of the struggles in hopes to open up the highways of understanding, compassion, love, and hope.  Follow me as I tread through.

Keep Rolling On With Us On Social Media

Today marks 22 years of marriage and to many more! #keeprollingon

A photo posted by @thewheelsofgrace on

We share our stories not so you know what we've been through, but so you're not afraid to share your own. Tell us, what's your story?

Posted by The Wheels of Grace on Monday, February 22, 2016

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Merry Christmas Prayers

Merry Christmas, Happy Birthday Jesus. What a beautiful time of the year.  

Wow how this year has flown by! I will admit that I haven’t been as prepared as in the past. Somehow July ran into December without a pause. Where did the time go?  I gave myself this pep talk Norah you will not freak out, you will remain calm, you will enjoy your family and you will Not lose sight of Jesus. After all isn’t this a time to enjoy life and reflect on the upcoming year? As I began the process of centering myself in preparation for the busyness of Christmas,  I received another request for prayer for yet another loss.  My heart quickly shifted and I though oh no not right before Christmas Lord, not right before the best time of the year.  I remember getting that unbelievable call right in December years ago. That memory is still so vivid.  Sergio lost his mother suddenly weeks before Christmas, this left our family in shock for years to come. No one even wanted to think of Christmas and no one was feeling the faintest bit jolly, instead we were mostly feeling guilty at the thought of engaging in any kind of delight.  Can we please cancel Christmas this is too painful, was what I remember thinking.  We couldn’t cancel Christmas for the world but we did in our hearts. That year I can honestly say I don’t remember Christmas at all.  It’s all a blur.  A couple of years ago a dear friend of mine lost her young son right before Christmas and my tiny community mourns this loss so deeply. His family is missing him in ways that cannot be explained. With this prayer request I am reminded once again how the holidays can be something less than jolly.  I reminded to offer up prayers and to reach out to those who have an empty seat at their holiday table and an empty space in their hearts.

I am not meaning to be doom and gloom, but this reality of pain during the holidays is one that my heart has asked me to address.  Not everyone feels Jesus during this time of year.  Some in fact are questioning everything about Him. They cannot bear the thought of even getting out of bed during this time much less celebrating anything.  I am almost positive that they wished they could push these feelings aside for the sake of others and often wear that fake smile all the while wanting to crawl in a hole and cry until this time has passed.  Until they can be reunited with the one they so badly miss.

The reminders of the one they have lost rings loudly.  All the special tender and quick way they celebrate with their loved ones are now gone.  It’s just not the same for them it will never be the same. Pushing through the pain requires strength beyond measure for an unknown time.

This year remember our friends and family that struggle with the sting of loss.  Extend an invitation, a smile, a hug and some quality time.  Be gentle and comforting.  Let them know that not only have they not been be forgotten nor has their loved ones. Acknowledge that their lives have forever been changed, share stories of their loved ones.  This can be your gift to them.  Honor the ones they have loved and lost. Most importantly pray.

 
Dear heavenly father I ask that you comfort my dear friends and family as they are so badly wanting to enjoy this season. Help them with their pain and agony over this huge loss.  The hole they carry in their hearts is unspeakable.  Help me to speak your will into that hole.  I ask father that you help me not get so caught up with life and preparing to celebrate your birth that I forget why you came.  You came to bring us hope and salvation.  Please help me to remember that as I wrap each gift someone near and some one far is wrapping one less gift this year.  Someone near and far needs me to reach out and love on them.  Lord I do not always understand why pain happens but I do understand that even before we were born you had our lives planned out. That with faith in you, you will in your time reveal why events happen the way they do.   Lord help me to keep my eyes open to the needs of other, help me to see that I can make a difference by getting on my knees and by the giving of time.  Help me to not get so wrapped up in my life that I forget the ones that are struggling wanting this time to pass.  Lord give me the words to speak comfort and give me the ears to listen.  Guide me to the places I need to be and guide my thoughts.  I ask that you make me a person that reflects comfort and compassion. Please Lord help them to see you and to seek you during this hard time and the years to come.  Help them to feel the spirit of their loved ones,  and to honor them in a way that helps fill the hole in their hearts.  Lord please guide each and every one of us to reach out to one another in need, letting your presents be felt everywhere.  Fill my home, my community, my church, my work place and my heart with you.  Happy Birthday!

Norah

Norah

A wife to a man in wheels. Sharing my life with all of the struggles in hopes to open up the highways of understanding, compassion, love, and hope.  Follow me as I tread through.

Keep Rolling On With Us On Social Media

Today marks 22 years of marriage and to many more! #keeprollingon

A photo posted by @thewheelsofgrace on

We share our stories not so you know what we've been through, but so you're not afraid to share your own. Tell us, what's your story?

Posted by The Wheels of Grace on Monday, February 22, 2016

Watch Your Toes

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Hands That Are Thankful

The table is set and we are ready to feast.  I look around at all the faces that have come to join us, I cannot help but think of all the stories that are within their hearts.  This group of souls have traveled down different paths but today have rested here to eat drink and be merry.  We are so different in so many ways, being family is what we have in common.

This who we are………

He lost his entire home with its possessions to a fire, years later he buried his wife. He is a widower raising a teenage daughter.  He loves the sweet potatoes, here he goes for another helping.  Go ahead add as much sweet to your life as possible.

Just recently released from prison, he is working to rebuild broken relationships and taking this opportunity to soak in all that he has missed.  Listening to stories of new adventures and laughing at old shared ones.  Where is the red chili he asks?  It’s color is deep and its taste can leave a burn, a sting.  It’s worth the flavor of familiarity.  This is what he seeks the deep familiar things in life. Even when it burns the aftertaste brings you back home.

She lost her mother at a very tender age, cares for her disabled father and young son. She’s on her own.  Loves the mashed potatoes.  You take this solid thing soften it, mash it up, add spices and it becomes something tasty.  Life is tough sometimes we have to soften it up, add spices and enjoy it.

At a young age he was orphaned.  Family unity is important to him.  Peace and quiet is what he enjoys most.  Possibly because of his hectic chaotic first years on this earth? Because of us he has no choice but to be ready for the attention that this whole bunch of people bring.  Slowly he embraces it.  This group of loud people are what you call family.  He hides some of the green bean casserole not because he’s afraid that he will not be feed.  He has overcome that fear long ago, but because he has an ornery side.  A side that makes you forgive him as he also eats all the dinner rolls.   

Life has not been an even road for him.  Not a smooth path it’s hard bumps, dips and valleys sometimes get him lost. Getting off track from time to time he picks up the pieces and regroups.    You cannot have gravy that is  too watery and you don’t want it lumpy, you pray that it is smooth.  You also need it to be just the right amount to cover over the things you love, bringing more flavor. Like gravy you may need to be whipped getting all the lumps out.

She carries many scares, many broken times. Today she is doing what she enjoys the most in life, being with her family.  Family is her everything.  Her favorite at the table are the cranberries.  On  her plate full of earth tones it brings a beauty in its color.  Different from the rest in taste and in texture. Most of the family would rather not add this to their plates but because of her and encouraging us to try new things, to not judge by the looks of things, we include just a little. This brings a little sweet to our forks.  

This little beauty too has had to grieve loss. At a young age she taken in by family to be loved and cared for.  There is no secret that at times she is confused as to why her bio parents could not care for her.  As she navigates the why’s and how comes she prepares herself for the beans.  Yes beans, and if you would be kind enough to heat her up a tortilla even better.  Because she too has lost so much so young.  The family all jumps up to give her what her heart desires.  You want a piece of pie after that we all ask?

Beautiful little man is the baby of the family and because of this we do our best to not spoil him too much.  He spends half his time with us and the other with his father in the city.  Because we have to share him it’s hard not to give in to his every desire.  You want how many dinner rolls?  Yeah six is a reasonable amount don’t you think?

He became paralyzed from a car accident that broke his back.  While he was still recovering mentally from this life altering accident he lost his wife suddenly.  This left him alone to raise a family.  The battles of loss have left him  fragile.  Because of health concerns we do not allow him too much food but let him have a small piece of pie as long as he promises to stay out of any more sugar.  In order to give him the opportunity to bless his family he was in charge of roasting this turkey.  Although we ate later than we would of wanted,  his perfect turkey was worth the wait.

She was raised by a teen mother and a paralyzed father.  One would think that was a rough upbringing.  That she would have tales to tell.  Well I am sure she has some but not the ones you would expect.  Sure her life was different and it took a long drawn out process to come out to be favorite. A tamale. This  in not just an hour process but hours sometimes days process to come  with perfection.  Life to her is an art, art takes time to perfect.  Just like food you must not rush this You must not only enjoy it but live it and share it.

He came from a dark place and was shot as a teen and left for dead.  He is more alive than ever.  He rides life in a wheelchair.  He loves life no matter what obstacles may come his way.  His love for pecan pie is one that he cannot deny.  You must break through the hard shells of the pecans first.  This most important ingredient is set aside to in time be a layer over a very sweet place.  Pecan pie is hard on the top but soft and so very sweet in the middle.

She was a young lost girl, searching for answers.  Searching for love.  At fourteen she meet her first true love.  Her daughter.  Her daughter made her continue to fight to find not only the true meaning of love but the meaning of life.  She’s married to the younger man in wheels and funny thing is she unlike him would prefer ham over turkey any day.  A honey glazed ham to be exact.  This is what life should offer be like, salty and sweet.  Best when together.

To the table we come broken,  we all have a story, we all have a past, we all have cried rivers. We all have been in the deepest valleys.  Here we are side by side to be thankful.  Thankful that was have each other, thankful that we can push all aside and be free to be who we are.  To be in a place full of grace, kindness, compassion and a place of understanding.  Understand that we are all different but when we are together was are the same.  We are family that Keeps Rolling On.

Norah

Norah

A wife to a man in wheels. Sharing my life with all of the struggles in hopes to open up the highways of understanding, compassion, love, and hope.  Follow me as I tread through.

Keep Rolling On With Us On Social Media

Today marks 22 years of marriage and to many more! #keeprollingon

A photo posted by @thewheelsofgrace on

We share our stories not so you know what we've been through, but so you're not afraid to share your own. Tell us, what's your story?

Posted by The Wheels of Grace on Monday, February 22, 2016

Expressing Gratitude

Expressing gratitude The time has come, Thanksgiving is near. My family can’t wait for the moment when the spread is laid on the table and were told to come and eat. We’ve already created our list of wants for this day.   On this day there will be enough for...
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Marriage DIY

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What I Know About Adoption

                                        “Adoption is a special kind of love that is shared not by people who are related by blood, but people who are related...
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The Loss of My Legs

Sergio reflects back in his life to the loss of his legs.  
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First Year of Blogging

                                                                           ...
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Impacting a Life

                                    Impacting a life can happen with out you even knowing.  In 2012 we were e-mailed this letter from a teacher, Michael, to 9 News...
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