My Ode to Chris, my Sis

Chris had always been a person in my life, a sister who, no matter what, came through, was always there for me. Sitting here, thinking about her, how she was a part of my life, my relationship with Rudy and eventually the perfect aunt for my kids, I’m remembering when Elizabeth, was born, and how Chris needed to take charge because Rudy and I, both thirteen years younger than her, were very anxious about me giving birth, an unknown territory for the two of us.

Chris, the oldest of 11 children, knew exactly what was going on (not only because she was like a second mother growing up, but because I don’t even know how many times, she helped feline after feline, dogs too, give birth to their new offspring). You wouldn’t know it, but I’m telling you, those lessons she learned were a definite asset for anyone feeling the pains of labor. She could read the situation and help the process move along smoothly. Chris knew the signs of “It’s time!”

When I was in labor with Liz (yet didn’t realize it) and Rudy, assuming I was just a little uncomfortable (because that’s what I told him “Oh I’m just a little uncomfortable”) was grabbing his jacket and heading towards the front door just as Chris walked into our tiny apartment.

“What?! She looked at Rudy, stared him down. “You are leaving? Going to work? Why? She is going to pop this baby out any moment! You can not leave! I won’t allow it.”

My sister. My older sister. My only sister was the boss. At that moment, regardless of any reason, viable or not,  she was not going to let him leave.

“I don’t think so! She’s in labor. Daphne is going to have this baby today,” my sister said, giving Rudy no other reason to dispute her. “You need to call work! Tell them you will not be in.”

“Alright,” Rudy mumbled, which is not an easy task, trying to sway Rudy to an opinion other than his own. But, I think like me, he sensed arguing was pointless. Chris seriously knew her stuff.

I suddenly felt a jab, a painful ache, something more defined than I’d experienced as the days of Lizzy’s birth grew closer.

Chris was right. Rudy needed to get me to the hospital.

Driving there, a 20 minute trek, seemed to take forever. And the fact that the pains grew stronger didn’t help.

We were both anxious.

Nervous wrecks.

“It will be okay. You will do fine,” I heard Chris’ voice tell me. She was in my head.

“We are going to be fine. This is it!” I told Rudy, cringing as another contraction surged through me.

Within the next several hours, three to be exact, our dark-hard baby girl was born, using every inch of her lungs to cry out, as if telling us, you did good.

And there was Chris, waiting in the lobby, waiting for the news. Is the baby a boy? A girl? Is Daphne OK? Rudy walked up to her and hugged her. Tight.

“Thanks for making me stay home, for making me call into work to say I couldn’t go in.”

She hugged him just as tight.

He walked with Chris to the baby window, arm around her shoulders. They both smiled. Gazing at Elizabeth, a wee child that Chris would spend a lifetime adoring.

I’m White. He’s Not.

The summer sunshine reminds me of a time, long ago when the shade of our skin was one of a few times color defined Rudy and I.

We made plans to spend the day at Huntington Beach in southern CA. We gathered a few what we thought of as necessary items to enjoy the day: a radio, towels, an ice chest full of snacks and drinks, magazines, and baby oil.

Baby oil?! Seriously, baby oil?!

Well, I’m telling you, at the time it made perfect sense. A quick way to color the skin.

A BIG MISTAKE, to say the least.

For me, anyway.

You see, Rudy has lovely brown skin. I am glow-stick white.

There we were, slathering that oil on, all over our exposed skin. Both of us looking nice and shiny. Feeling satisfied, we horizontally positioned ourselves, side-by-side, each on our own colorful towel, relaxing, to the point of snoozing under that hot sun.

Rudy noticed I was turning pink, said as much, but let the issue go when I said, “Oh, it’s okay. I’m fine. I’m getting a tan!”

As mid-afternoon approached, in the heat of the blazing sun shining brightly in my eyes, it was hard to tell if I managed more than a slight coloring. I felt I should continue to sunbath, just a bit more sun, a bit more color but, it was time to leave. So we did. Plus, we were hot, and tired.

We stopped at a mini-mart on our way home. A cold ICEE, Cocoa-Cola flavor, please! was in order. As I stepped out of the car, my skin – especially behind my knees – hurt. Not too bad. Just a slight irritation.

My reflection spoke to me from the glass of the store window. “Oh, wow, you did get some color. Definitely!”

I looked towards Rudy and noted that he had tanned nicely. He looked all chocolatey-brown, not milk-chocolate but rather dark-chocolate, like Hershey’s Special Dark. He was looking good, real good!

Cold drink in hand, I eased myself back into the car. I could feel the sun soaking in, doing its job of coloring me.

Ah, what a soon-to-be joke!

When we returned home I asked Rudy if he wanted to go to the pool, to cool off before we headed to our little abode, our own personal space. “Sounds good to me!” he said with interest.

The pool was somewhat crowded with other residents living in the apartment complex. The water felt good, soothing. It seemed people didn’t want to look our way, but they did. “Hum, am I looking good with some sun on my lilly-whites, or what?” I modestly questioned under my breath.

Or what? was the answer to my ridiculous thought!

30, maybe forty, minutes later, when we entered our place I immediately walked to the bathroom to shower off the day’s debris. “Oh. My. Gosh!” I sort-of yelled as I glanced at my reflection in the mirror. “I am so red! My face looks like a cherry tomato!”

“You are red. Really red.” Mr. Good-Looking-Dark-Chocolate-Brown casually stated. “Seriously red.”

I’m Red. He’s Not.

Admitting You’re in LOVE has to Begin Somewhere

love note 1984

“I’m hungry,” Rudy confessed when he saw me looking at the few slices of the least-expensive white not the most nutritious bread he could find and a half-empty can of bean dip.

We went out to eat, my treat.

The next day I brought him a bowl – well, a thermos full, really – of hot Campbell’s Chicken Noodle soup and some toasted, buttered bread.

Rudy was living in a by the day, week, or month motel room. Number 19. It was all he could afford. Ironically, the Vagabond was located just down the street from Disneyland – The Happiest Place On Earth. Rudy wasn’t feeling too happy during those days. Life was hard and trying to make ends meet wasn’t an easy task for a 21-year-old foreigner. He just wanted to be part of the American Dream.

Doesn’t everyone?

When we first met, before his motel days, Rudy was living with a group of buddies in a three-bedroom apartment. Life was fine. Partying like young guys do, just living it up. One day at a time.

We had been dating for about a month when I stopped by to check in on him because he’d mentioned he was feeling sick. Sick enough that he did not even want to get off the couch, which was so unusual for Rudy. This guy would never just lie on the couch just because he could. Never.

His roommates were gone for the day, which was good because I could take care of him. In a sappy girly way. I put a pillow under his head. Made him tea and toast – good stuff when you don’t feel like eating. Which Rudy didn’t. Eat. He was feverish. I wiped his brow with a cool cloth. He slept. He woke. He dozed some more.

What amazed me though was that when Rudy did wake after a short snooze he was determined to go to work. He needed the pay. Seriously. He would literally sit up. As straight as he could. Then he would struggle to stand. He couldn’t. He was too weak. I convinced him to relax. He needed time to recuperate. I even offered to call his job site, tell them he wasn’t feeling well. And after much convincing, he allowed me to call in his excuse for not showing up to the local Holiday Inn where he worked as a dishwasher, mostly, but helped the chef whenever he could.

Another time, a few weeks or so later, we were sitting on the patio, a small square of cement surrounded by a wood-slated fence, when Rudy began pacing back and forth. I figured something was up because his behavior was again! unusual. “I need to ask you something. I just don’t know how,” he stated rather bluntly, yet with concern. “Anything. Ask me anything,” I honestly answered.

“Oh, this is so hard. But I don’t know who else to ask. Well, I was just wondering if you had any money I could borrow. Just twenty bucks. I do not have a penny to my name…..” He tried to continue. Telling me he was sorry, that he shouldn’t be asking. “No problem,” I said. And I meant it. I knew he really did need the help. I pulled a twenty out of my purse and passed it to Rudy. He just hugged me, not sure what to say. That evening, I’m sure, a bond tightened. A bond we were already developing between us.

It was several months later, after the 20 bucks situation, when I saw the bread and beans in the motel room. By this point I knew how hard it’d been for Rudy, trying to prosper. I had been there with him, when things began to look bleak. The same evening I brought him the chicken noodle soup we decided to take a walk. A walk to the Anaheim Hilton. The hotel had become a place to stroll, to just find some kind of quietness for us. To talk. To get to know each other. We just talked and walked through the lovely hotel.

That particular night, a mid-December night, we had been talking about how most likely Rudy would need to return to his homeland. To Honduras. He just wasn’t seeing a future for himself in the states, particularly in expensive California. As we were talking, and walking very slowly, a what are we going to do? walk, we found ourselves in a small room with tables, note paper and pens. I didn’t think, I just wrote.

I handed the note to him, unembarrassed. Rudy accepted it.

What I didn’t realize was that right after he read my short love note his thoughts began to change. He now had a reason. A reason not to leave. A reason to keep trying, to make a life for himself. And I was the biggest part of that reason.

We embraced. Rudy smiled at me. I smiled back. I sensed something had happened. Did Rudy feel like I did? We had never talked about love before. He didn’t say anything. He didn’t need to. I knew, right then, that he loved me, too.

Relationships all begin somewhere. Ours began in Orange County, CA. In 1984.

Teach Me Teach


I was sitting behind the reception desk, filing papers, answering the phone, and rubbing my pregnant belly when I decided to leave the workforce and return to school. Without consulting Rudy, I walked into the head-honcho’s office and verbally resigned, giving him two weeks to find my replacement.

Back then, I had allowed myself to somewhat give up on my education because combining a fulltime job and being a fulltime student had become overwhelming. Rudy and I needed me to work more than I needed school, so I temporarily dropped out.

Which meant, I soon discovered, that I was working for the sake of working. Simply showing up day-after-day, earning a bi-weekly paycheck. What I really was seeking, besides a monetary compensation, was the feeling of making a positive difference in someone’s life. I was six months pregnant, with our first child, when I quit the receptionist job, and found myself joyfully walking onto the local university’s campus, ready to fulfill my goals of earning a Bachelor’s of Arts degree.

My daughter was born the day after my first semester ended and on occasion, she continued to tag along, sitting in on lectures with me, quietly coloring or pretending to take notes, absorbing the value of an education. As a transfer student, it should have taken me two years to meet my goal but, being a new mother, I needed to balance my homelife with my academic one, so I cut back on my courseload, in order to accommodate both.

Ironically, after graduating, Rudy and I decided I needed to, once again, return to work. More focused, and determined not to give up, or give in, I found employment working with young children, which filled my days with satisfaction. Fulfilling my dreams of working with impressionable youth.

After three years of involving myself with preschool children, I once again gave my resignation notice, knowing that once-and-for-all I was going to complete the necessary steps it took to earn a Clear Professional Teaching Credential. I returned, to a different college campus, with my second-born, a son, holding my hand, as I walked him to the onsite children’s center, while his sister attended second grade at the near our home local public school.

A year of daytime, and nighttime classes, resulted in my receiving a credential. Finally, I would be able to structure a classroom not only filled with academics, but also a safe haven to instill a belief in all children that they are valuable.

Several years later, I became a student once again. Yet, this time, I was a student simply enhancing my skills as an educator. I had another personal goal to meet. I earned a Masters of Science degree, while attending to not only child 1 and child 2, but also while caring for my third, and final, child.

Not only am I happy that I pursued, and met, three major educational goals for myself, my hope is that I have instilled in my children to never let any obstacles block their way and that they live life the way they choose, regardless.

Happy BIRTHday, Mr. Seventeen Year Old. Happy BIRTHday To You!

brad newborn

Brad was born on August 6th, in the year 1999. The morning of his birth, which was his actual doctor given due date I was feeling a bit uncomfortable, but nothing unusual compared to the discomfort of many previous days. Rudy rolled toward me on the bed, looked at me and asked how I was feeling. “I’m good. A little cramped, but fine. Really.”

“Well, today is the baby’s due date,” he said, making two slightly bent, bouncing fingers on each hand – the “quotes” gesture. Feeling convinced that I was fine, Rudy took Roberto with him so that they both could get a  haircut. About an hour, or so, after they had left, I called Rudy’s cell phone, dialing 911, a standard emergency message. I wasn’t feeling fine, anymore! They were about 35-40 minutes south of our house, down the 57 freeway, at a friend’s barber shop. Rudy called me, sounding a little anxious, saying he’d be home as quick, and of course as safely, as possible. Jinks! He should have knocked on wood – as far as the getting home quickly statement was concerned! Rudy was driving our cute, red we bought it used Honda Civic Hatchback (instead of our more reliable, sturdy Toyota 4Runner). He wanted to take the Honda for a much needed spin, not realizing the car would choose that day to act up.

Meanwhile, with my sister and Liz at home with me, I began pacing in-out-back-forth through the kitchen, living room, and dining room. I was feeling unusually, and unnaturally, worried.

Rudy called. “I don’t know what is wrong the the car! It’s going so slow! It was driving fine then it suddenly made a noise! I keep pressing the accelerator but the car won’t go any faster than 35mph! All the other cars are whipping right past us on the freeway! I even have to drive with my emergency lights on! I will get there as soon as I can! I will!”

He told me later – much later, when I really cared – that while that little car chugging along, eight year old Roberto and Rudy were constantly tapping the dashboard while talking to the hatchback. “Please, you have been a good buddy! Don’t die on us now, please! We need you to get us home! Baby boy is going to be born today!” Rudy coaxed.

Back at home, all I could do was try to relax and breath, a difficult task while feeling concerned. I could tell my sister was nervous so I tried to minimize it by saying I was okay, that everything was going to be fine. I’m pretty sure she could tell I was not really fine, but she played along, for my benefit, so as not to make me even more anxious. Back and forth, back and forth I ambled. I knew something was happening, something… like a baby being born on his due date! I was acting a bit strange – strange for me, that’s for sure. About 50 minutes after my 911 call to Rudy, I heard the car horn – about two blocks away! Honk! Honk! Honk!-Honk!-Honk! The horn was being pounded constantly, all the way up the winding streets of our neighborhood. The noise continued even as Rudy drove up onto our driveway. Hooooonk!!

And then I heard their happy screams. “Woo! We’re here! We did it!” Rudy and Roberto both yelled, heads dangling out the car windows. Rudy thanked the car for a job well done, “You made it! Thanks Man!” Running, and smiling, yet anxious looking, they ran into the house. Rudy grabbed the already packed baby bag loaded with all my necessities. After kissing the Liz and Roberto goodbye, and waving to my sister as she stood in the front doorway, Rudy helped me into the 4Runner. Off we went! Rather quickly.

“This is it. Today is the day,” I said with a pained look.

When we were walking down the corridor of the hospital I remember a group of little girls, maybe girl scouts on a field trip, walking along. Normally, I would most likely say hello to them but I just barreled past. Sort of with a get out of my way, NOW! attitude but, in a polite way, I’m sure. We sat together, Rudy and I did, on a bench opposite the reception area of the maternity ward. A nurse happened by, looking at me. “Are you in labor?” she asked, professionally. Oh, she’s good, she knows her stuff, I sighed. “Yeah,” is all I could say. Within minutes I was taken to the only room available, a small closet size room filled with all the necessary medical equipment.

I. Didn’t. Care!

The hospital staff – it seemed there were so many – positioned me as comfortable as possible on the bed. There was no time to spare. With the help of a midwife (a woman I had never met…), I gave birth to Bradford, within 15 minutes!

Happy BIRTHday, to our wonderfully wonderful 17 year old!

Roberto William

roberto baby

He was born with an abundant amount of hair. From the beginning I knew this small boy-child of mine was, and is, mine. He definitely possesses my looks, so I say. Everyone else seems to think he looks more like his dad. “Think what they want,” I tell myself. “He’s me.” Not only was the dark, newborn hair like mine, except for the fact that Roberto’s would stick up straight like blades of grass, but as the years passed, more and more of me – shrug it off-one day at a time-go with the flow-if it can’t be changed then move along-attitude flowed out of him. The way he thinks. About the world, and the people in it. Of course, his eyes match mine, only his somehow look more brilliant, and the shape of his face is definitely inherited from me.

Aside from Roberto’s mostly not completely predetermined mom’s DNA personality, he is himself. His own unique person.

roberto youngster

One of the most obvious stand-out physical attributes he has are his eyes. His blue, blue eyes. The stops and stares began way before he could understand the compliments people tossed his way, admiration of his Paul Newman eyes. “He has the most beautiful eyes…,” they’d say. I agreed with all those wow compliments, yet I always made sure to tailgate them. “He also is such a nice boy, and so smart, too.” I didn’t want him to grow up thinking it was his handsome face, his pretty eyes that would take him safely through life. No. I wanted to ensure he knew how to stand strong. As a person. Less so as a look. As he grew, began to understand what people were saying to him, he also began to roll those baby blues. He’d heard enough. He wished he could paint them brown. Just to stop people from saying anything.

When he was about four and a half years old, I would drag him along with me to watch his only sis cheer for the local pee-wee football team. I soon realized that it wasn’t a drag for him, it was the beginning of a booming talent. Entertaining people, without trying to.

While the little girls were dressed to the tee in their white and dark blue cheerleading outfits, standing in front of all the adoring parents, he stood off to the side. Far enough away so that the crowd didn’t spend their time confused wondering if he was part of the cheer squad yet, close enough to copy exactly what moves the girls made, the shouts they cheered.

Roberto stood there. Or, no he didn’t. He really moved to the music. He never just stood. It was the girls who should have been pumping up the crowd but it really was him who brought smiles and laughter to the field on those fall mornings. The cheerleaders spun, bent, jumped, shouted, tossed, ran, raised arms, clapped. They did what cheerleaders do. Cheer.


So did he. He cheered. Wearing his jeans and a neatly tucked in t-shirt. Little did anyone realize that during practices, before the big game, he was watching every move. Every must do it right move. He practiced. And practiced some more.

He was the entertainment. Sometimes even more entertaining than the game itself.


Not much later as a group of girls danced to the Spice Girls in the garage, he would take over the show. Steal the limelight. Not intentionally, he just did. He was Mr. Personality. When the youngsters decided to perform for the other families in the neighborhood he was center stage, singing and dancing. The girls dancing and singing behind him joyfully laughed along with everyone else.

roberto's shredded pants

I remember once upon a time, Roberto was just a young 6 or 7 year old, when he decided it would be cool to shred the bottom portion of his jeans. Let his personality take over, I believed. Creative, artistic, funky jeans were all the rage for him that year. So creative. So cool. So him. He wore them everywhere. I thought it was fantastic. His ingenious idea.

bano roberto

The garage bathroom door needed to be painted. “Let me do it,” he said, the lilt in his words told me it was really a question. I took the door off its hinges. Removed the doorknob. Lay it flat on the ground. After I painted the background an ocean blue and let it dry he began drawing using a pencil. For whatever reason, I never asked, he drew a picture of his dad and his sister holding hands. He wrote the word el baño on the top portion. For his dad. He speaks Spanish.

Roberto has always been an interesting character. A unique one. Someone everyone should be so lucky to share their life with. I watch him. Admire him. Am proud of him.


As a young adult now, he truly does appreciate his good looks, his big blue eyes yet it’s his kindness, his spark for life, his energy, his personality that he really likes about himself. I do too. While he is lovely to look at, it’s his concern for everything that I am most content with.



Born in the USA


I was born in California. You would think that growing up as part of a large family that I would do anything for attention, anything to be noticed. I was the opposite. I was very shy. I was content to spend time alone, to read or participate in some other quiet activity. “She’s very quiet, doesn’t talk much. She needs to speak up more,” teacher after teacher would write in the comments section of my yearly report cards. Thankfully, my parents didn’t push me. They let me be. Let me be who I was. If quiet was my game, then quiet I would be. Yet, I knew how to have fun. Fun with fun people.

As I grew older, was old enough to hang with some of my brothers, I would do what the boys liked to do. I would crawl in the dirt, and make mud pies. I’d slither through the bricks piled up in the backyard, covered with a blanket and strategize some kind of plan, like secret agents, with my brothers and a few of their friends, in the fortress we built.

I would follow a brother to a neighbor’s house and help pour salt on some snails, watch them shrivel. So cool! Yet, somehow weird and mean.

One time one of my brother’s friend’s mom was going to take the boys to an area, a dirt-filled area near some train tracks. “Yay!” I cheered when they said I could tag along. The mission: to find as many trap-door spiders – trap and all – as we could. I loved the danger of it all! Boys are so much more fun than Barbie playing girls. At least, that’s what I thought.

When my younger brother and I would tag along with our older sister, our only sister – well, my only sister, anyway – to the grocery store, me and my bro’ would eat the grapes, and sometimes a piece of candy or two. Secretly, of course. My brother would ask grown up sis “Can I have this?” – whatever this was – but she’d say “No!” When I asked grown up sis, for my brother, secretly, of course, she’d say “Oh, sure. Get what you want.” In my adolescent opinion, probably not my brother’s, my only sister was cool.

After school one day, a neighbor boy wanted to dump ketchup all over his body and stick a cardboard knife in his pretend bloody chest. He wanted me to scream and point at him when a car drove by. I did. I did it again, and again until one car slowed down. Then I ran home. That same boy was later tricked by one of my older brothers. My big bro’ picked up a dead stiff as a hard-covered book cockroach from the ground and made it look like he tossed it into his mouth, then chewed it. Crunch. Crunch. My brother dared the neighbor boy to do it, eat an ugly bug. The boy did. Yuck! I laughed so hard.

The teenager down the street sewed together the cutest blue and white checked very young girl two-piece bathing suit. I thought that was pretty neat because I thought that teenage girl thought I was just a punk kid. The teen even took me to the local pool to try the suit out. I felt shy, for sure, yet very special. Oh, and the teen’s dad used to give me and a couple of my brothers chocolate chip cookies. He seemed to enjoy the days when we would knock on the door, whereby he would invite us in, have us sit at the kitchen table and give us tasty, tasty cookies with milk. He even asked, “How has your day been?” I liked how kind he was.

I got to eat vanilla ice cream in a pretty little dish, at a neighbors, a few doors down, because two of my brothers decided that jumping on the back of the ice cream truck would be a fun thing to do. They fell off when it turned a corner. My parents had to take them to the hospital, one for an abrasion, one for a head concussion. My brothers were always doing something crazy. That’s what I think.

One sunny summer day I went with my sister and some brothers to the beach. Huntington, I’m certain. The day was a good one, playing in the water and building sand castles. When we were ready to leave, ready to pack up the car – it was gone! The car, that is. The car had been stolen! I learned what hitch-hiking entailed that day. Kind of fun, I thought. Different people helping out a group of young kids.

On an August afternoon, during the annual Corn Festival, I felt tired. I was hot, too. Luckily, my dad had purchased a pretty little sun shade for me. A frilly-edged umbrella. I plopped myself down on the grass, under a big, big tree. I was wearing a homemade-turquoise-color-printed dress with red knee-highs. Little did I know that someone, a newspaper photographer, had taken my picture. I smiled when I saw my five-year-old-self in the paper, the local paper my dad was reading the following Monday.

I still live in the town I grew up in. I didn’t leave because I was afraid, afraid to take some chances – like some might say. No, I stayed because of the comfort stability provides. The stability I now offer my own family.

California holds my memories. California is my home.