Friday, December 02, 2005

The Third Bear

The Story Ends

The story that begins with the first Paddington Bear that my mom gave me as I headed out for college ends with the 3rd Paddington Bear that she gave me. A bear, for all intents and purposes, that said to me, You made it, you have become the person you wanted to be—you have taken your wings and flown higher than either of us expected on that fateful day, so many years ago when you went to college. And, you have also been true to your roots, always remembering your family and community.

Bear #3
The house was all packed, we were ready to go and my mom was once again hosting a party. This time, my farewell party. After living in the same town for 15 years, I had accepted a position at a University five hours away. I would be moving out of the town that had become a family town for us over the years. It was the place where two of my children were born, where I moved my mom and my sister after I graduated with my teaching credential, where two of my sisters lived with their families, and where my aunt and cousin had moved to a few years ago to be closer to family--it was our family town in these United States. This was place where I had purchased my mother her own home with a fireplace, helping her fulfill a dream she had had ever since she was a little girl. This is where we had formed many bonds, many memories, many good times, and now I was leaving to become a professor at a University five hours away.

After all the gifts were opened, my mother took out a finely wrapped box. It was beautiful and she came over to me, tears flowing freely as she told the assembled guests,

"When my baby went off to college so many years ago, I gave her a Paddington Bear. He was sort of scruffy looking and sort of sad and he had a tag that said, Please look after this bear and she did and she graduated with her teaching credential. Years later, when she finished her doctorate, I gave her another Paddington bear. This one was better dressed to show that he had made it and was going places in his life. Again, I said to her, Please look after this bear, and she did and now look at her--all ready to become a professor.

She handed me the package and waited patiently as I opened it--Another Paddington bear-this time dressed in a tuxedo and looking like he had really MADE IT. With the same tag, Please look after this bear. This, she said, is a bear that has it all and is now making his way in the world to help others. She said to me, "I will miss you greatly, not having you here, but I am so proud of you. Please, look after this bear just as much as you did the other two." With tears streaming down my face, I gave my mom a hug--the bond complete, the understanding there, the love flowing. My mom, in all her grandeur, had come full circle. We were one-both of us understanding the courage and sacrifice it had taken to get us to this point in our lives.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

The Second Bear

The Story Continues: The Second Bear

In my story, The Bear, featured in Chicken Soup for the Latino Soul I write the story of the first Paddington Bear that my mom gave me. She in fact gave me three bears—at different milestones in my life and these bears tell their story of a mother’s unconditional love and trust in her daughter to take flight, make a mark for herself in the world and never forget her roots. In the story of Bear number 2, my mom gives me a second bear when I graduate with my Ph.D., to commemorate the love and support we had enjoyed between us since that day, long ago when she gave me my first Paddington Bear.

Bear #2
The festivities had died down and almost everyone had left. My mom, in all her splendor, had been a wonderful hostess and was as proud as could be, the daughter who she had sent away to college so many years ago had graduated with her doctorate degree. She called me to the couch to sit by her and she held out a package to me. I looked at her with a questioning look in my eyes--she had already given me my Ph.D. Hood during the ceremony earlier today.

She said, "Open it," With a sly smile on her face. It was a finely dressed Paddington Bear with a fine red hat, an evening coat, and a tag, Please look after this bear. She said, remember when you went away to college so many years ago and I gave you a Paddington Bear that was sort of raggedy looking? I said, "Of course, I still have that bear and he is still very special to me. He helped me through some very trying times. When the going got tough, I would look at that Bear and know that YOU believed in me and that gave me the spirit to keep going, no matter what. The courage to pursue my dreams and believe in myself as much as you believed in me."

"Well, now that you are a doctor, I thought you needed a finer bear to look after, as you go off to tackle the world. Remember, to always look after this bear and take very good care of it." We laughed and reminisced about a time long ago when we were crying over the same issue, the same bear. We had come a long way, my mother and I. With a daughter who had now earned her doctorate, in the United States, my mother, an immigrant of so many years ago, was beginning to understand. I loved her dearly and I was so very proud of her and the courage that she had shown all of my life. Through all of the ups and downs, her faith and belief in me and in my ability to make it, never wavered. She was always there to lend a hand with baby-sitting, cooking a meal, and just generally looking after my family as I pursued my dreams.

Sunday, November 27, 2005

The Inspiration

In Loving Memory of Carla Lima
October 12, 1937 to April 29, 2004

My story in Chicken Soup for the Latino Soul was inspired by my mom, who gave me wings and roots; wings to fly and explore the possibilities of my life, and roots to ground me in my culture and the essence of my being. I wrote this story to share with my mom on Mother’s Day of 2004, instead, that was the first Mother’s Day I spent without my mom by my side.

On April 29, 2004, we lost my mom who passed away peacefully at approximately 10:00 p.m. in her home. She had spent the day preparing for company to come the next day and had a nice tea party with her grandkids earlier in the evening. She was last with her sister around 9:30.

Carla was a loving mother, grandmother, great grandmother, aunt, great-aunt, and sister. She truly enjoyed being surrounded by family and friends and was known for her large family gatherings where all were welcome. She made friends everywhere she went and was known for her generous and giving nature. All who met her were touched by her goodness, her love for all things beautiful, and the loving care she provided to all.

Born Malphighia Texieria Nolasco on October 12, 1937and raised in Belo Horizonte, Minas Gerais, Brasil, she never forgot her Brazilian roots. She came to this country in 1960 with her husband Sebastian Lima. She raised five children and was blessed with 13 grandchildren and 4 great-grandchildren. She was always teaching us Brazilian songs and making special foods from the homeland. She made sure we all learned how to speak Portuguese. Her legacy has been the family values she has imbued in all of her children—she taught us how to stick together, come to each other’s aide, and always believe in each other, the way she believed in us. She worked hard to keep the extended family together, even in the new country, and making sure that her kids grew up knowing their aunts, uncles, and cousins.

She was a loving mom who truly believed in all of her children. She gave all of us her unconditional love and support as a mother. She touched so many lives that is it has been hard to say “Good-bye” to this treasured lady—who loved and laughed, and lived life to its fullest each and every day. She will be remembered by many as Vovo—the best mom, grandmother, and sister, and friend a person could ever have hoped to have.

Thanks for being our mom and holding our family together with your kindness, wisdom, and giving nature.

Thanks for your legacy of family values, family time, and family memories, we miss you dearly, but you live on in our hearts and souls forever.

Thanks for always
Counting not the blessings
you have received,
But the blessings
you have shared.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Barnes & Noble Review

Honoring, Creating, Nurturing

Never compromise who you are
Or who you can become
Always believe
in the you you can be
when you
honor your past
create your future
nurture your present

In this beautiful collection of stories, poems, and quotes, my fellow authors and I have created a book that truly honors our past, creates our future, and nurtures our present lives. We honor our families, friends, and loved ones, embrace the spirituality of our culture, and believe that we can be whatever we choose to be. There are no compromises here—we all live life to its fullest and enjoy all that our bicultural/bilingual lives have to offer us. This is a must read for all Latinos who want to feel proud of who they are and where they have been and all of our allies who have joined us on this journey.

I enjoy all Chicken Soup Books, they are inspiring and heartwarming examples of the endurance of the human spirit.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Amazon Review

Below is a review I have posted on Amazon regarding the book, Chicken Soup for the Latino Soul. If you have not gone to see the reviews yet, it is a must see--they are awesome.

Cuentame un cuento

As a contributor to the Latino Soul book, I will admit that my 5 star review is not very objective. I love all of the stories. They are inspirational, touching, heartwarming, and beautiful. I believe in this project as a way of sharing nuestra cultural con nuestra comunidad. We are a community of love, honor, respect and family. We love, laugh, cry, sing and dance as we embrace all of what life has to offer. We dream dreams of a better world, supporting each other, and believing in the essential goodness of mankind.

As an educator, my 5 star review is not as biased, but based on years of experience teaching writing to children and adults. These stories inspire everyone to try to tell their own story and to share a part of themselves with the world. They show us the healing magic of the printed word and how we can make difference in our lives and in the lives of others. I find that these stories are a powerful way to help others be inspired to tell their own stories and to share a part of themselves with all of us. I applaud and thank the 3 editors for their foresight, dedication and commitment to la comunidad Latina.

Sunday, November 13, 2005

Laitno Soul Website

Susan Sanchez-Casal, Ph.D., a co-author of Chicken Soup for the Latino Soul has a wonderful website, latinosoul.com that features the authors from Latino Soul and further tells their stories of struggle and triumph. She writes the following about the collection of stories she helped to co-edit:

"Whether your roots are in Mexico, Central or South America, the Caribbean or the Iberian Peninsula, the stories touching, humorous and inspiring stories will remind you of the pride, hope and joy of being part of the Latino community in America. This book showcases the storytelling traditions of Latino culture, articulating the joys, struggles and triumphs of the Latino experience.

With stories that explore culture and identity, and that celebrate families, spirituality, living in two languages, crossing borders and overcoming life's challenges, each chapter focuses on the uniqueness of the Latino experience and tradition.

The Chicken Soup for the Soul books were first published in 1993 and quickly rose to number one on the New York Times bestseller list. With over 80 million copies sold and 65 titles in 37 languages, Chicken Soup for the Soul has made international publishing history and garnered numerous prestigious awards for creators, Jack Canfield and Mark Victor Hansen. Canfield and Hansen are joined on this book with coauthor Susan Sanchez-Casal, Ph.D."

The website and the book are worth a look for all those who are passionate about the Latino culture, family values, and traditions.

Saturday, November 12, 2005

Chicken Soup for the Latino Soul

I wrote an original short story that has been published in the newly released Chicken Soup for the Latino Soul, one of the books in the #1 NY Times best selling Chicken Soup for the Soul series.

My story is titled The Bear and recounts the difficult struggle I have leaving my recently divorced mother and younger sister in order to pursue a college education away from home. Before leaving for the university, my mother gives me a Paddington bear as a symbol of her love and support.

The Bear was selected from thousands of other potential stories to be included in Chicken Soup for the Latino Soul because of its ability to touch the hearts of Latinos everywhere.

This book contains all new stories of love and inspiration for people of all ages interested in the Latino community. There are stories of mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers and friends. It is a heartwarming collection of stories that reflect the best of the Latino community and what we represent in society today.

Released on August 9, 2005, Chicken Soup for the Latino Soul is special collection of stories celebrating Latino life and community with real stories by real people from all across America.

I am sure the book will be enjoyed by many who have family, friends, and loved ones as part of la communidad Latina.