Wednesday, August 29, 2018


Beginning of my second leg, Hawthorne Bridge at dusk.

Last Friday and Saturday I ran the Hood to Coast.

At one point, sometime in the dark, blurry-eyed hours of Saturday morning, my team sat in our van and declared, "We discovered hell. A HTC race that never ends." And then it ended and it was the best thing we had ever done.

On Sunday, I rested. I rested because it felt like someone had violently beat my legs and back and feet with a rolling pin, nonstop, for an entire year.

On Sunday, Asher said, "This is the last day of summer and of my freedom. LET'S DO SOMETHING FUN!"

I said, "Asher. If you can find something fun to do in this house, I'm all in."

Asher said, "Well, how about a board game."

I said, "PERFECT!"

He walks back into his room and brings out ... Twister.

Sunday, August 26, 2018

Un tributo para mi tia Cira

My tia with Juan Gabriel, not when we went to his house in Cuidad Juarez.
My tia Cira died on Aug. 13, on the eve of her 68th birthday. The cause was complications from cancer. We celebrated her life this past week, and I was lucky enough to give a eulogy for her on Thursday night, in Spanish. I share it here, in English and Spanish:

Good evening. Father Jose, thank you for all your remarks tonight. Among the many things you spoke about was the Holy Spirit. Well, now I'm going to share some thoughts about the spirit of my tia Cira.

It's a little strange to say this, especially on such a sad occasion, but it gives me such great joy to be here with all of you. Especially cousins, aunts and uncles, some of whom I haven't seen in so many years.

But it just shows you that even in a time of death, when we remember my tia Cira, there is life.

There is life in this building.

There is life in the memories that we have of her.

There is life in the actions of her experiences, a joy that she brought to everything she did.

And especially, at such a profound volume! Who is going to forget that voice? Every time I called home, my father and I always said the same joke when I would hear talking in the background, usually in the other room:

"Tell her I can't hear her!"

It almost pains me to retire that joke, but well, that's how it goes.

Life and joy. Remember those words, because that's how I'm going to choose to remember my tia Cira.

But first, let me quickly acknowledge why I do feel pain and sadness over the death of my tia Cira. As Juan Gabriel, her favorite singer, said in "Amor Eterno":

"How I wish, that you were still living, that your eyes had never closed, so I could keep on seeing them..."

I always explain to all those who meet me and get to know me that I lived with three mothers. And thus, to this day, I also say my two sons have three abuelas. Now, I'm not going to tell you how they rank them, because I don't want to offend anyone here...

My mother, Aurora; my tia Teresa; and, of course, (motioning to the open casket), my tia Cira.

They all lived with me and raised me ever since I was a baby. And that's why I feel this loss so profoundly.

From my mother, I learned the importance of family. "Family is family," she always told me. And we are this way with my immediate family to this day.

From my tia Teresa, I learned the importance of education. She always pushed me and helped me with my homework, and she was the first one to mention Stanford University, back when I was 15 years old. Seven years later, I graduated from there, and I'm happy to say my three mothers were there for that occasion.
My tia and me on my graduation day from Stanford in 1999. That was a good day.
And from my tia Cira, I learned the importance of joy. She taught me to enjoy and have an enthusiasm for life.

This manifested itself in many ways.

As I've mentioned, my tia loved Juan Gabriel. When I was 13 years old, she took me to Torreon to see my tia Lupe, who is here tonight, and her family. We went on the bus, because as you all probably remember, she hated to fly. We had a stop in Cuidad Juarez and some time to kill. Well, Juan Gabriel has a house in Cuidad Juarez, and my tia was determined to find it!

We had also taken a camcorder with us on this trip, and she wanted me to record the moment she knocked on the front door of Juan Gabriel's house. I'm reasonably certain this video is still somewhere in my parents' house...

We get there and she knocks on the door. Some guy comes out, a personal assistant probably, and she asks him:

"Good morning! Is Juan Gabriel home??"

I imagine that she really, truly believed that she was going to see Juan Gabriel that day.

But oh, how she loved his music. And all kinds of music, really. She liked it so much that she loved to sing as well. If there was a mariachi band, she would for sure be singing. Without fail. She was going to tell it to you "borracha y en su juicio." For example, she sang at my wedding. (Next week, we celebrate our 17th anniversary.) We had a mariachi band, and we apparently had a singer. And the nice thing is, she'll always be on my wedding video, singing happily at our wedding reception.
The wedding singer. Always and forever.
I also remember how much she loved the Dodgers. Her favorite teams were the ones from the 70s and 80s. The teams of Garvey, Lopes, Cey, Monday and "her boyfriend," as she referred to him, Dusty Baker. Until her final days, any time I mentioned Dusty Baker in any context, she would always correct me and say, "my boyfriend Dusty Baker." When "Fernandomania" hit in 1981, she was front row for all of that. That team managed to win the World Series and that was always her favorite moment related to the Dodgers. But she always loved going to games and watching them on TV. And that made me a fan for life. When she died last week, by pure coincidence the Dodgers were playing in Seattle, where I currently live, the following weekend. So I went to all three games, Friday-Saturday-Sunday, because I wanted to do something in her memory. My tia would have enjoyed seeing the Dodgers play, and win.
Some newspaper clippings my tia had saved from that championship season. Sweet, sweet memories.
One other memory I have of my tia has to do with her citizenship. I was pleased to see her wearing a scarf with an American flag print on it. My tia came to this country at 19 years old in 1969, and she became a U.S. citizen during the 90s. I was so incredibly proud of her for achieving that goal. And she took her citizenship very seriously, voting in every presidential election since 1996. During 2008, the year President Obama won, she had great enthusiasm. She went to the annual Mexican Independence Day parade in East L.A. sporting her Obama button. L.A. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa was the grand marshal and when his car came up, my aunt ran out to the street to go shake his hand and hug him. He sees her button and starts a "viva Obama" chant, and the crowd is chanting back. All of this from my aunt approaching him! On Election Day, after she voted, she stood outside the building and asked everybody who came out: "Who did you vote for? Who did you vote for?"

As I said, life and joy.

It's certainly easy to see and remember what we lost: an aunt, a sister, a grandmother, a friend.

But what will be hard, dare I say impossible, to forget will be all the memories she shared with all of us.

And I urge all of you to hang on to those memories, remember the good times, because she would have done the same for all of us.

Because her life and joy bore out an Eternal Love ("Amor Eterno"), to call back to a theme I mentioned before. I love you, tia, and thank you so much for all you gave me. And as Juan Gabriel said in that song:

"Sooner or later, I'll be with you again, so we can keep on loving each other."

Thank you very much, and may God bless you all.

My tia's quinceanera in 1965, four years before she came to the U.S.
Buenas noches. Obispo Jose, gracias por todo sus observaciones. Unas de las cosas que usted menciono era el Espirito Santo. Bueno, ahora voy a compartir unas observaciones sobre el espirito de mi tia Cira.

Es un poco raro dicir esto, especialmente en una ocasion tan triste, pero me da tanta alegria estar aqui con todos ustedes. Especialmente primos, tios, tias que no he visto en tantos anos.

Para que miren, hasta en tiempos de muerte, quando reordamos a mi tia Cira, hay vida.

Hay vida en esta iglesia.

Hay vida en las memorias que tenemos de ella.

Hay vida en las acciones de sus experiencas, una alegria que trajo a todo que ella hacia.

Y especialmente, a un volumen profundo! Quien se va olvidar de su voz? Cada vez que yo llamaba a la casa, mi papa y yo siempre deciamos el mismo chiste quando la oiamos hablando en el otro cuarto:

"Dile que no la oigo!!!"

Hasta me da lastima retirar ese chiste, pero bueno, ni modo.

Vida y alegria. Recuerdense de esas palabras, porque asi es como yo quero recordar a mi tia Cira.

Pero primero, quero reconocer rapidamente porque si suento dolor y tristeza sobre la muerte de mi tia. Como Juan Gabriel, su cantante favorito, dijo en "Amor Eterno":

"Como quisiera, que tu vivieras. Que tus ojitos jamas se hubieran cerrado nunca y estar mirandolos..."

Siempre les explico a todos que me conocen que yo vivi con tres madres. Y hoy dia, tambien digo que mis do hijos tienen tres abuelas. Bueno, yo no voy a decir en cual orden ponen las abuelas ellos, porque no quero offender a nadie aqui...

Mi madre, Aurora; mi tia Teresa; and, claro (senalando a mi tia), mi tia Cira.

Ellas vivieron conmigo desde pequeno. Y por ezo, siento esta perdida tan profundamente.

De mi mama, aprendi la importancia de la familia. "Familia es familia," siempre me dice. Y somos asi en mi familia hasta este dia.

De mi tia Teresa, aprendi la importancia de la educacion. Ella fue la primera que menciono la universidad de Stanford, cuando tenia quince anos. Siete anos duespes, yo gradue de alli, y estoy feliz en diciendo que mis tres madres estaban alli para la ocasion.
Mi tia y yo en el dia de mi graduacion en 1999. Ese era un bien dia.
Y de mi tia Cira, aprendi la importancia de la alegria. Ella me enseno a disfrutar y tener un entusiasmo para la vida.

Esto se manifesto en muchas maneras.

Come he mencionado, mi tia amaba a Juan Gabriel. Cuando tenia trece anos, ella me llevo a Torreon para ver a mi tia Lupe, quien esta aqui esta noche, y su familia. Fuimos en el cameon, porque como ustedes recuerdan, no le gustaba volar. Teniamos una parada en Cuidad Juarez. Juan Gabriel tenia una casa en Cuidad Juarez, y mi tia la iba encontrar!

Tambien llevamos una camera de video, y ella queria que grabara cuando ella tocaba la puerta de la casa de Juan Gabriel. Estoy seguro que todavia existe este video en la casa de mis padres...

Llegamos a la casa y toca la puerta. Alguen sale, probablemente un asistente personal, y le pregunta:

"Buenos dias! No esta Juan Gabriel??"

Me imagino que ella de veras pensaba que iba a ver a Juan Gabriel ese dia.
Mi tia y Juan Gabriel, no en el dia que fuimos a su casa en Cuidad Juarez.
Pero como amaba su musica. Y todo tipo de musica, en realidad. Le gustaba tanto que le gustaba cantar tambien. Si habia un mariachi, de seguro que ella iba a cantar. Sin falta. Te la iba decir borracha y en su juicio. Por ejemplo, ella canto en mi boda. (La proxima semana, vamos a celebrar diecisieste anos de casados.) Teniamos un mariachi, y aparentemente tuvimos un cantante. Pero lo bueno es que ella siempre estara en mi video de boda, cantando alegremente en la recepcion.
Mi tia cantando en mi boda, 2001.
Tambien me recuerdo cuanto amaba a los Dodgers. Sus equipos favoritos fueron los de los anos 70s y 80s. Los equipos de Garvey, Lopes, Cey, Monday y "su novio," como ella lo nombraba, Dusty Baker. Hasta sus ultimos dias, cada vez que mencionaba a Dusty Baker en caulquier contexto, ella siempre me corrigia y decia: "mi novio Dusty Baker." Caundo la "Fernandomania" pego en 1981, ella estaba primera fila para todo eso. Ese equipo logro ganar la Serie Mundial y ese siempre fue so momento favorito de los Dodgers. Pero a ella siempre le encanto ir a los juegos y verlos en la television. Y eso me hizo a mi un aficionado por vida. Cuando se murio la semana pasada, por pura coincidencia, los Dodgers estaban jugando en Seattle, donde vivo actualmente, el siguiente fin de semana. Asi que fui a los tres juegos, viernes, sabado y domingo, porque queria hacer algo en su memoria. Mi tia hubiera disfrutado ver a los Dodgers jugar, y ganar.
Recuerdos de 1981 que mi tia guardo.
Otro recuerdo que tengo de mi tia tiene que ver con su ciudadania. Me alegre de verla con una mascada con una bandera americana. Mi tia llego a este pais a los diecinueve anos de edad in 1969, y se hico cuidadana americana en los 90s. Yo estaba tan increiblmente orgulloso de ella que la logro. Y tomo su ciudadania muy seriamente, votando en cada eleccion presidencial desde 1996. Durante 2008, el ano que gano el Presidente Obama, tuvo un gran entusiasmo. Fue al desfile anual del Dia de la Independencia de Mexico en el Este de Los Angeles luciendo su boton de Obama. El alcalde de Los Angeles, Antonio Villaraigosa era el gran mariscal y cuando su carro se acerco, mi tia corrio a la calle para saludarlo y abrazarlo. El vio su boton y comienza un canto de "viva Obama," y la gente repite el canto. Todo esto porque mi tia se acerco! El dia de la eleccion, el cuatro de noviembre, despues de que ella voto, se quedo afuera del edificio y les pregunto a todos los que salieron, "por quien votaron? por quien votaron?"

Como les dije, vida y alegria.

Es facil ver y recordar lo que perdimos: una tia, una hermana, una abuela, una amiga.

Pero sera dificil, y dire imposible, para olvidar va ser todos los recuerdos que compartio con nosotros.

Y yo les exijo a todos ustedes que detenganse de esas memorias, recuerden los buenos tiempos, porque ella viera hecho lo mismo para nosotros.

Porque su vida y su alegria crio un Amor Eterno, para volver a llamar a esa tema que mencione antes. Te quero bien mucho, tia, y muchas gracias por todo lo que me diste. Y como dijo Juan Gabriel:

"Tarde o temprano, estare contigo para seguir, amandonos."

Muchas gracias, y que Dios los bendigan.

Wednesday, August 8, 2018


Noe is sick. He has a fever, probably a summer cold, but I'm keeping an eye on it.

I hate it but I also secretly love it when he's sick. He doesn't get sick very often. The last time I remember him running a fever was when he was in sixth grade and in bed for over a week with a bad flu.

It is remarkably obvious when he is ill. His constant movement and OCD behaviors grind to a halt and he lays eerily still in bed and stares up at me with his sad, moist eyes.

I've been trying to analyze why I secretly love it. This has to stay a secret because I am a mom and moms aren't supposed to enjoy seeing their children ill. I don't enjoy seeing him suffer ... at all. It's not about that. But. I do enjoy having a problem surrounding him that I can actually fix.

I can give him medicine and liquids. Make him comfortable with blankets and pillows. Put a cold washcloth on his forehead to take down his fever, or rub his back. I can read him a story or put a vinyl record on to help district him from his discomfort. Eventually his fever lifts and his energy returns. I can't cure autism, but I can take down a fever.

I also get a glimpse of him without all of his autistic behaviors. Sadly, I think he looks most like a typical kid when he is under the weather. It makes my mind wander a bit, thinking about what he would be like without the yoke of his autism. It is futile wander, always leading to disappointment when he recovers and inevitably resumes his stims.

Postscript: It wasn't a summer cold, but strep. Confirmed at the doctor for the both of us when I woke up with my throat on fire a day before our move down to Portland. Another challenge of raising a nonverbal autistic kid - figuring out when to see a doctor. Unless he gives his illness to me, I don't always know what is going on in his body. We are now recovering together in our new Portland home stacked high with unopened boxes.