Tag Archives: Family

Double the Birthday Fun!

It was a beautiful South Florida day, round about 11 years ago—if my memory serves me correctly. My SIL was at her OBGYN appointment, checking up on the progress of her pregnancy. I was in-town, exhibiting at a conference in Miami, so had just left my brother & SILs home in a neighboring city.

Sitting in a restaurant, alone on a quick break to eat, a phone call from my brother came as a happy diversion. They had just gotten a Sonogram done, and his voice was full of joy and wonder.

“You’re going to be an Aunt……….TWICE!”

I’m sure he could hear my huge grin through the phone. “I know! Alyssa (the 4-yo at the time) and then now! YAY!”

“NO, no!” He replied. “It’s TWO. We are having twins! A boy and a girl!”

What. Just. Happened?

I must have been so incredibly caught up in that moment, in laughter and awe, you know…I have no recollection as to what I said next!

Fast forward to 2013, and here it is, their birthday!  And, as their proud Aunt, they still fill my life and many others with so much laughter and awe.

With Grandpa

Mr Eyebrows Sad Face

Little With Great Love

Triple trouble

My, how you’ve grown from what appears to be one the oldest pics of I can find on my computer now of you, Birthday Babies!

This one is with your Grandma, who is sending you hugs and kisses from Heaven, I just know it!

Family at Christmas

Even though we miles away, we wanted to say Happy Birthday, kiddos!  Enjoy the day that brought you not only into our family, but into our hearts!

Love,

Your Aunt + Uncle

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Today We Celebrate Her Life…

I imagine that it was a cold, January day in Detroit, 1947, when little Eve came into this world. She was the first of four beautiful girls born to Anthony and Helen.

Family Photo: Tony and Helen, my Grandparents, are both 2nd from the Left

The blond curls of her tow-headed youth faded at some point to the short, brown hair that we always knew.

My Mother’s Graduation Photo

So too, her shyness as a girl later gave way to the chatty-with-anyone Mom that sometimes made us, inpatient children, sigh in exasperation in the grocery store line.

Little Me & Mom

Yet she showed us how to love, just by being who she was.

Simply by taking the time to have a friendly conversation with a stranger, or bringing a glass of cool lemonade to a worker in the yard, or giving her freshly, baked goods to the staff at Dentist office, or making her Fluffy Buttermilk Blueberry Pancakes when your friends came over…all her simple acts of love were saying “you are special”. Such a beautiful reflection of God, who provides so many little and big ways to let us know of His love and care for us.

She made us laugh by making herself laugh.

She would thoughtlessly shake her foot on the bed as she tore through the paperback pages of her library romance novels.

She would tell you all the ingredients, measurements, and instructions to a recipe that you didn’t realize you wanted.

She would say, “Better let you go,” at least three times around the end of a phone conversation before she actually would let you go.

She would have your favorite meal on the table when you came home for a visit.

She spent many evenings playing cards or board games.

She would befriend someone that she just met outside a movie theater.

She loved us incomparably.

As did we.

My Parents on their Wedding Day

Our family in the great outdoors – as usual.

Grandma & Friend, with Four Daughters & Son-In-Laws

Mom spent every Christmas with her Grandchildren

Mom loved to be with her family. Family Reunion 2009

She would play games and/or cards on a dime

She loved her daughter-in-laws like her own

Spending time with family was always a priority

Always making something delicious from scratch

She took a surprise like a champ. My airport surprise when she was going through Cancer treatments the 1st time

She had a good time wherever she went

Mom + Dad = Witness of a loving marriage

Her humor and faith brought her through everything. At the games she secretly organized, after found out her Cancer had come back. Mom showed us we could laugh, even in the hard times.

She was able to meet my Sweetheart, and get to know him a bit…

Beautiful Mom, inside and out

Whatever she was made, it was bound to be gooood

Many family meals together…

She instilled the Faith in us that kept her strong

Loved her sisters, and shopping. Sporting her stylized Converse – fashionable, and Doctor-recommended 🙂

Beloved and loving Mom, thank you.

It is the first time that we are celebrating her birthday without her physically present…tough stuff. Not a day goes by that we don’t think of her or miss her.

Mom, it gives me peace that you are forever happy and whole now. You ran the race with endurance, rest in the greatest Love of all now.

As for us, today we will celebrate your life, that gave us life; the joy that brought many joy; and the love that made others feel so loved.

Love you, my Mom, my hero.

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2011 Year in Review – Part 1

“Coming together is a beginning; keeping together is progress; working together is success.”
Henry Ford

I started a tradition quite a while ago of writing a recap of the year before the new one was to begin.  I did start this post before 2012 began, but I just wanted to enjoy visiting with family instead of writing about it.  As I begin this post, we currently are more than halfway on our 2 day drive back home to Dallas from Florida, so with the Cowboy’s game on in the background which is occupying my husband in our hotel room, now’s as good a time as any.

2011 was quite a year!!  It brought both some of the hardest and greatest times in my life.  Here are some of the more memorable moments:

Out of the gate of 2011, in January we had to gather all the courage, strength, and hope that comes through faith. My Mom’s Breast Cancer had come back in her bones with a vengeance. She spent her 64th birthday with her friends and family on January 21st, and then 2 days later departed this world.  She still managed to cross some important things off her “Bucket List” first, including seeing me try on my wedding dress from her hospice bed; and Skyping to see her newborn Grandson, Jacob Richard — Paul & Pilar’s youngest boy — born just a few days before her birthday.

1 of about 7 dresses I tried on before I found the one. Mary Catherine was the Angel who brought the dresses from her Ocala shop that day

In February, before returning to Dallas, Mike surprised me and Dad with a short trip to St. Augustine, Florida.  That’s a special place for me, and I hadn’t been back for many years.  It was a much-needed time away together, and we wanted to pray for all those who had prayed for us during our time of need.  We lit candles and prayed for you all when we visited Our Lady of La Leche at the Shrine, and walked the Sacred Acre where the 1st Mass was celebrated in the US.

A short trip to St. Augustine, Florida with 2 of my favorite fellas. Trying to start getting our heads out of the fog...

Meeting my newest nephew, Jacob Richard, upon our return to Dallas. Holding him was what my heart needed...

Then it was back to Dallas, commencing the journey to find a new “normal.” Of course, wedding plans began immediately in high gear, to plan it in just 5 months down where Mike grew up in San Benito, TX and South Padre Island.  I do not recommend grieving and destination wedding planning, but it’s just how things ended up… And so we rely on God’s grace, and those He’s given us to do what we need to.

I never even got thank you notes out to all the people who sent flowers, Mass cards, gifts, Edible Fruit displays, sympathy cards, books, and reached out in so many ways.  So please know that everything meant so much to us, and we are grateful for your friendship, love, prayers and support – truly.

In March, Mike’s Mom came to Dallas and spent Spring break with us.  We had fun crafting and she was our first passenger in the new vehicle that we bought.  God blessed us with a fantastic deal on fully loaded red Mercury Mariner, with less than 5,000 miles on it.  As hard as it was for Mike to let go of Ol’ Blue, this little crossover has served us well.

Our new Mercury Mariner - we love "Ruby"!

Mike's Mom with baby, Jacob. Can you tell she is ready for more little ones??

In April we went to Hollywood, Florida. I was Alyssa’s, my niece, Sponsor for her Confirmation.  We had a great visit with family, and are so proud of the beautiful young lady that Alyssa has become, inside and out.

Cracking up with my niece Alyssa at her Confirmation Party

On the last day of Spring Blooms at the Dallas Arboretum, we had our Engagement photos taken.  Our friends John Wehlage, and his wife Julie, did an amazing job on both our Engagement Photos and my Bridal Portraits. More photos (includes the events surrounding our wedding) are posted on our wedding site blog, the Martinez Lounge so I’ll only post a couple here:

Mike + Lisa - Engagement Photos at the Dallas Arboretum during Spring Blooms

Bridal Portraits & Engagement photos done by John Wehlage. Taken at St. Ann's Catholic Church, Holy Saturday, 2011

Wow, April was really busy.  We took a jam-packed wedding planning trip down to South Padre Island.  It felt like a contest – how many vendors can we book in one weekend? HA! The last weekend of the month we headed to Eunice, Louisiana where I used to live and work.  Our friends hosted a beautiful engagement Mass of Thanksgiving and Party, Cajun style, at Walnut Street’s Atrium of the dear Miller family — where I served at many events for others.  Again, more stories and photos are all on our Martinez Lounge site.

Celebrating with my Cajun Family - Cajun dancing with Garrett

Last year it was May Showers, Bridal Showers that is. A beautiful shower was hosted on Mother’s Day (aren’t my friends amazing??) by friends & CRHP (Christ Renews His Parish) sisters. The other was graciously hosted by St. Ann’s choir members after a Wednesday night practice. My Bachelorette Party was hosted by my Maid of Honor, Kelli, at my friend’s, Cynthia, home in Coppell. We also attended Engaged encounter, along with our NFP classes.  My oldest nephew, Daniel, graduated from High School. My Dad came to stay with us before the wedding, and so we began the big move of Mike into the Condo – and it was the three of us in close quarters until the wedding. Wedding planning pretty much consumed all the other moments – LOL.  Lots of photos of those great moments on our blog. I’ll leave you with a few.

Bridal Shower with friends & CRHP Sisters

Bachelorette Party - Hostesses, Cynthia & Kelli

My nephew, Daniel, graduated from High School.

That’s the first part of 2011.  More to come friends, but sleep most come first!

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A Christmas Surprise

My husband rocks. A spontaneous surprise, we left his folk’s South Texas home on Monday, where we spent our first Martinez Christmas, to show up at my Dad’s. My brother, Jeff’s, family joined in and met us here late last night.

Here’s the video of that great moment where 7 of us descended upon Dad’s quiet home.

It was special, as this was also the 1st Christmas without our dear Mom; and Dad’s first one home alone. How sweet that we could see both our families for Christmas!

Christmas Surprise

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Our Angel

But He said to me, “My Grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”  Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.” – 2 Corinthians 12:9

This passage from St. Paul’s letter to the Corinthians has come to me so many times in my life.  As my mother still lays dying, simply awaiting the birth of her Grandchild, Jacob, (more on that later) I am grasping this profound scripture on a whole new level.

Many people have told my Mom throughout her 2 battles with Cancer that she is an inspiration.  She would tell you, “I’m just me.”  My sweet Mom did not feel like she was stronger, most definitely not more “heroic” then any other person fighting for life — she was simply doing ‘what needed to be done’ to sustain the life she so desperately wanted to still share with us that know and love her.  Yet, she is a hero to many–I told her last night that she was mine–for leading a life uncommon and leaving a legacy of love that will continue to be passed on from generation to generation in her honor.  In a world fraught with so many problems, tragedies, persecutions, etc…a beautiful, pure, light such as my Mom seems so rare, and thus that more precious.

As for me, I first learned love and truth from my earthly parents – and I thank them for the beautiful example they have set.  Not perfect, as no one is except in Heaven, but as good as they could possibly try to be.  And as I continue to receive so many beautiful messages for Mom, my family, and myself, about how the love we have given has made even a small difference in someone’s life, well, it is extremely humbling.  Mom always believed in treating people the way you wanted to be treated.  How drastically would this world change if people actually followed that “Golden Rule”, based on the premise that they actually love themselves in an ordered way and know also how to carry themselves with dignity?

Back to St. Paul, I know more about weakness then strength.  I read kind and thoughtful messages from dear friends saying such things like how ‘courageous and strong’ I am, and quite frankly it is nothing at work in me except God that provides those appearances.  I know that’s probably what my Mom feels, and definitely what St. Paul was referring to in my opening scripture.  You see, as a friend of mine discussed with me the other week, it takes a more strength (to assent from your human will) to surrender then to hold on.  It seems the natural thing to try and hold on and control things, but through experience and being disciplined, I have learned that the more I try and hold on, the more turbulent things become.  Letting go is the hardest thing to do, and just when it appears that I have seemed to make even the smallest progress in that area, the Lord asks me to go deeper in trust and let go, or detach, from something even greater or harder.

Letting go of my Mom is the hardest thing that has ever been required of me.  But seeing how greatly such an angelic woman has suffered, well, it provides the necessary motivation to surrender.  My Dad, 3 brothers and their wives, myself and my fiancee, Mike, have all made our peace with Mom.  We have shared all the love, tears, laughs, and words needed, and told her to go Home in peace.  All that she asks about now–as her earthly light fades, and her heavenly one increases–is about Jacob, who will be the newest addition to the family of my brother, Paul, and his wife, Pilar.  I imagine this baby, Jacob, wrestling in Pilar’s womb, with his frequent starts and stops, much like Jacob in Biblical times wrestled all night with an Angel.  As many refer to my Mom as an Angel, I pictured the two, Jacob and Mom, in a tug-of-war, with Mom praying for him to arrive quickly, and Jacob resisting leaving the comfort of his mommy’s tummy to enter life as we know it.  And poor Pilar is caught up in the mix of it!

Well, God-willing, we will hear of Jacob’s arrival soon.  As my Mother laid crying in her Hospice bed the other morning, I asked her what it is that she wanted before she passed away.  All she kept echoing was, “I want to see Jacob, I want to see Jacob, I want to see Jacob,” as the tears streamed down her face.  I told her God was listening to her, and we prayed as my brother, Jeff, led us into trying to help usher that child into being born.  Well, as of the last we heard at around 9:00 pm EST last night, Pilar was having contractions 15 minutes apart and Paul was pre-loading their bags into the car to be ready.  I am up in the middle of the night with much anticipation, as I await the news about Jacob, and wait to see how it will affect my Mother’s delicate state.  Her body is shutting down now as the Cancer grows and takes over.  I hate Cancer, I hate it.  But I love my Mom and God, and know we all will get through this as so many before us have, and many after us will as well, God forbid.

But there will be one more Angel, or I think of her now as standing more with the Saints, Eve Marie Sanchez, in Heaven to intercede for suffering Cancer patients and families.  She will be powerful in prayer, and loving as ever – true to always how she has been, and perfected in Love for all eternity.

I am quite certain that I am sharing some very personal thoughts and family moments with you here and now for a purpose greater then I can now understand.  I know undoubtedly that there are people who need encouragement and to experience GOD’S LOVE for the first time, or again; and even in her preparations to leave this earth, it is amazing to see how the love in and around my Mother is still doing that.  I am in awe, and know that people will still respect my family and the suffering that are also going through even now.  I write to process these things as well, and it is something healing for me, and hopefully for my family too.

I will bring this to a close now.  As my Mother’s first Grandchild, Alyssa, my niece, holds a special relationship with my Mom.  At only 13-years-old, I am very proud of the sweet and faithful young lady she is growing into (good job, Jeff & Annette!).  She has shared many beautiful writings with us over these trying months and weeks that have moved many adults to tears.  The last one she wrote before they left my parent’s home on Monday is what my Mom said that she’d like to go with her in her casket.  Since a public tribute it will become, I felt it honoring to both my Mom and Alyssa to share it here and now, as it says everything much more simply and perfectly then I am able to at this point.

On the front of the paper, Alyssa drew a picture of a lovely Angel, and it says, “My Grandma”.  On the back, it says that which my Mom is longing for as well as what I will leave with you for some time now (I will be with some of Mom’s family coming in soon, and attending to some of the many loose ends to wrap up as time allows…):

You will have long hair in Heaven.

You will have the most beautiful dress in Heaven.

You will have nice long legs so you may dance in Heaven.

You will have wings to show you are free and can fly in Heaven.

You will have the brightest smile for when you look down at us – our day will be wonderful!

You will have a halo to show you are an Angel, but you don’t need one to show you are one now.

I love you, Grandma,

Alyssa

Your 1st Granddaughter

UPDATE as of 6:15 AM on 1/18/11:  I just got a call from my brother, Paul.  They are at the hospital, and Pilar is dialated at a 4 out of 10 right now.  She is having pretty severe contractions right now, and they will not be going home – this baby is coming!!!  But it will still be awhile.  Poor thing, she is exhausted, not having slept in 3 days, and has even gotten sick in her labor.  Please pray for God’s will, including strength for Pilar, support for Paul, speed for Jacob, steadfastness for Mom, and peace for us all.

Finally, this beautiful song from Audrey Assad, has also been speaking to my heart.


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Making Progress with Cancer and Beyond

“Physical strength is measured by what we can carry; spiritual by what we can bear.” ~Author Unknown

Thank you to everyone who has reached out in one way or another to me and my family as my Mom continues to fight her battle against Bone Cancer. From emails, calls, notes, pilgrimage intentions, hugs, prayers, etc…all of your love and support have helped us bear this weight.  I’ve been wanting to post an update on her status for quite some time, but it seems as there are never enough hours in the day!  Since October is National Breast Cancer Awareness month, I thought it was even more fitting to post an update now.

Mom’s weekly treatments began on July 27th.  As is true for anyone that has gone through Chemotherapy, she has good days as well as rough ones. But amidst these highs and lows, there have been some truly grace-filled moments. Even strangers have performed random acts of kindness on more than one occasion that have moved us to tears.

Despite the fact that from week to week her physical symptoms change, her accepting spirit and positive attitude have remained steadfast, which she says are the effects of prayer and grace. We’ve seen that prayer and grace at work in many ways.  Over two weekends in September, Mom suffered with diarrhea to the point of becoming dehydrated and losing 10 pounds. Imodium eventually helped, and instead of her chemo treatment that week, she received two big bags of fluid to rebuild her system. Two days later the doctor arranged for an anti-diarrheal injection which now will be done monthly.

Shortly thereafter, Mom fell in her bedroom while getting dressed one morning.  She twisted her left foot and ankle – which became a bit bruised and swollen.  After this incident, her left foot dropped–meaning she experienced significant weakening in her ankle and was unable to flex it or her toes. The result is a loss of feeling or control over the foot, so she had lost her stability to walk.  Thankfully my Mom’s sister, Sue, was visiting that week. I know my parents were so grateful for my Aunt’s unselfish service and cheer during a week that soon became full with doctor’s visits, an MRI, Pet-Scan, EMG, Flu and Pneumonia Shots, blood work and results.

My Mom has been doing physical therapy to regain her strength in her left leg and foot drop, which was supposed to last four to six weeks.  But over the past two weeks it seems to have been too much for her system as she’s been vomiting the past two Fridays during her PT.  After this past weekend with the diarrhea starting back up, she ended up in the hospital today.  Since she was so weak and run down, they gave her an IV with fluids and something for the nausea.  She’s going to talk to Dr. Reyes tomorrow about stopping Physical Therapy for now and just doing exercises at home.  She’s already seen some progress with being able to move her toes somewhat.  In the meantime she will keep sporting a slick pair of black Converse high top tennis shoes she got because they provide better support.  She receives Chemotherapy three Tuesdays a month teamed with Herceptin, and then the last Tuesday does Herceptin with Zometa (to strengthen her bones).

She was accepted into a John Hopkins clinical study, which will help future female cancer patients. Doctors are studying what her vitals do with cancer in her blood.  The positive news is that Mom’s oncologist, Dr. Reyes, has said that some of the markers of where her cancer first started are coming down.  This is a good indication that not only is this the right treatment for her, but also that it is gaining control over her cancer cells.  The blood work done prior to the Chemo also gives her Oncologist the ability to decide whether she will proceed with treatment or not.

We continue to lean into your prayers.  If all goes well with her results like we hope, Mom will be on a shorter Chemo infusion plan, approximately four months (until around Thanksgiving).  Then she would take her Chemo in pill form and continue to be tested in order to monitor her markers.  Otherwise she would have to do the eight month plan, which would  be until March of 2011.

My  parents continue to pray the Rosary daily, offering it for the special intentions of our loved ones praying with us.  How appropriate that October is also the month of the Rosary!  I plan on posting another blog in a bit on Blessed Fr. Miguel Pro S.J., a 20th century Mexican Martyr – as we intercede for the cause of his canonization and ask him to intercede for healing for my sweet Mother, Eve.

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More Turkey, Tony?

As the golden brown bird – carved up like last month’s jack-o-lantern – would take a rest from all the first helping activity, my family would await what had become a family tradition.  You see, my Grandfather was not a man of many words, so thankfully fate had stepped in as my Grandmother and the consequent Perlaki women have not suffered from that impediment.  Aunts and Uncles were spread around the main table, and myself with the cousins in the overflow room,  but our ears would remain perked to catch wind of that million dollar question.  I’ll set the scene…

Grandpa would have reached the point where he had finished everything on his plate, including the Turkey Neck as was the status quo.  Grandma would look over trying to evaluate if he had enough, because that belly that he would laughingly point at and claim he was pregnant had to be maintained, don’t you know. A hush would come over the table as she surveyed the plate that had inevitably been stroked clean by a dinner roll.  A stirring from deep within would produce the annual Thanksgiving inquiry, at a vigorous decibel since he was hard of hearing, “More Turkey, Tony?”

Once we heard the familiar ring of those words and saw his acquiescing nod while another serving with the fixin’s was being shoveled onto his plate, we knew that all was right in the world.  Some things never change, and indeed some things should not.  Time with family is a precious commodity, and I am grateful for all the Thanksgiving memories of yesteryear.

I join with Americans today in giving thanks.  There is so much to be grateful for, even way too many to blog.  Suffice it to say, I thank you for all things, Lord, my cup overflows.

Another one of the traditions that my brother, Paul, and I partake in annually is found below.  I hope you will enjoy Adam Sandler’s Turkey Song as much as we do!

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