I’ve been back in Mexico for over a month now and I finally made it to Culiacán. This city was the first place I called “home” when I came to Mexico nine years ago.
Juan Carlos was a baby. He’s now 10 and almost as tall as I am. The family has grown and I am now abuelita to 4 boys. Jose Agustín is 7, Angel is 5 and Christien is 8 months old. I come to Culiacán regularly to spend time with my family.
Culiacán has been in the news recently when the prominent drug cartel literally took over the city for a few days. It has always been a dangerous city because of the cartel.
But danger is all relative.
Just last week a fire truck was hijacked in my hometown of Winnipeg, Canada. Yet my friends in Winnipeg are not happy that I still visit Culiacán. Back in Aguascalientes my friends there have the same concerns. And everyone in Canada and in Mexico wonder why I want to spend several months of the year in the gun-toting state of Washington.
I look at it this way. Life is short. Living in fear of what may or may not happen detracts from our enjoyment of life. In order to appreciate every single precious moment, we need to really focus on the present. For once that moment has passed, it is gone forever.
Sunday night was filled with moments. We went to mass at a church nearby. My grandsons were excited because a movie was being shown outside in the parking lot after the mass. Chairs were hastily set up. Thanks to modern technology involving a computer and a screen, we were treated to Disney’s Christmas Carol, in Spanish naturally. What a beautiful way to begin the festive Christmas season!
Last night we went to Juan’s father’s home. Candles were lit and prayers were said to begin the Advent season.
Other special moments this visit include playing Scrabble with my grandsons and watching Juan play basketball last night.
Juan Carlos read me a beautiful story he had written in English entitled “A Friend Is Better Than A Videogame.” It rivaled any 10 year old native speaker’s story.
I’m sure we will share more special moments when the boys return from school later today. Sadly I must leave for Aguascalientes tonight, but I look forward to my next visit to Culiacán.
Our world is different today. We email, we text, we tweet. Families live miles apart and no longer congregate regularly around the dining room table.
The Ripple Foundation offers a variety of programs throughout the year. Most of these take place over the fall and winter when I am not here. But I have attended Elder Speak for the past three years.
Four individuals are chosen each year to prepare for this event. They speak of their childhood, their careers, their marriages, their losses and their life experiences.
Yesterday the discussion centered around such topics as relationships and courage. The ideas of living, loving and learning were stressed.
A quote by Everett Berts, one of the Elders, jumped out at me. “There is a difference between knowledge and wisdom.”
Thank you to the Ripple Foundation for sponsoring this event. And thank you to the Elders for sharing their valuable life lessons.
There is an age old controversy about defining family as blood relatives only. But it has been my experience that family are the people you feel closest to, the people who are there for us and who give special meaning to our lives, even though these people are not blood relatives.
When I first came to Culiacán almost nine years ago, I did not know a soul in Mexico. I met Juan and Lucila and they became much more than just friends. They became my family. At the time they had only one child. Juan Carlos was just over one year old.
The family has grown over the years and their four sons are my nietos, my grandsons. They call me abuelita, grandma. And I cannot imagine life without them. We haven’t lived in the same city for the past eight years, and Mexico is a large country geographically. But in the six months I spend in Mexico each year, I do try to see them as often as possible.
I’m delighted that my grandsons are learning English at school. I bring them back English books and activity books when I return from my time up north. But my Spanish definitely gets a workout when I am with them.
The photo in this post was taken when the baby was less than two months old when I was last in Culiacan in April. I wish I could visit more often. It’s tough being a long distance grandma.
I’ve been through a lot in my lifetime but one of the most difficult things ever is being a long distance grandma.
My grandparents all lived close by when I was growing up. Although my dad had already passed away by the time my kids came along, my mom lived only minutes away when they were young.
I spent a few magical days with my granddaughter Madeline this summer. At 17 months, she had changed a lot since I had last seen her when she was only six weeks old.
Memorable times included a visit to a kangaroo farm, a splash pad, a children’s play center as well as her first haircut.
I miss building towers with her and playing in the “thunderdome” with her. I miss pushing her in her stroller or wheeling her around in a shopping cart.
What I miss the most was our cuddling time when I would read to her and give her a bottle before she went to sleep at night.
Although she came to the airport when I left, I don’t think she quite realized what was happening. I wonder if she looked for me that evening at bedtime, or looked for me the next morning when it was time for breakfast.
I know that I have this empty feeling and that part of my heart was left behind with Madeline in Kelowna.
It’s tough being a long distance grandma.
The more time I spend here, the more amazed I am at the various events here that are family-oriented. This time the event was Kinderfest and it was held on the fourth of July. Temperatures soaring into the 90s were no deterrent to the hundreds of adults and children who filled the streets in the downtown area. Front Street was transformed into a major carnival with a variety of games and activities.
The fun began with a bike parade at 11 am. Afterwards long line-ups prevailed throughout the day as eager children excitedly awaited their turns at a bouncy house and a water slide, not to mention all the other crafts and games that were set up. An incredible amount of volunteer manpower was evident and I am impressed with the giving spirit in this community.
A popular area had fire engines, ambulances, tow trucks and tractors that were all kid-friendly. The children were delighted to clamber aboard and honk horns or blow sirens.
One of the tables touched my heart. A friend of mine from Cashmere spearheaded this one. Children were encouraged to write a note and enclose a tiny flag that would be sent to soldiers serving overseas.
There was a table where hats could be constructed.
Games included fishing with magnets, basketball, balloons and more.
The bouncy house was a favored attraction, as was the water slide for cooling off.
The Rotary Club volunteers were hard at work building birdhouses.
Here are a few miscellaneous shots.
And that was Kinderfest 2017.