How Learning to Make Mole Gave Me Closure About My Grandmother’s Death

I miss my grandmother’s Mexican mole.

Her mole dish was delicious and everyone loved it. She used to make it on special occasions.

When she passed away on June 24th, 2015, I was really sad, still processing her death. She passed away very early that morning without anyone having an opportunity to say goodbye.

I didn’t know how to process the news of her death, I come from a family who doesn’t know how to express their feelings in a healthy way, so it was really difficult to try to connect with anyone in my family and talk about my grandmother.

I am very comfortable with my spirituality and with my emotions, but it took years for me to finally embrace them. When my grandmother passed away, I tried talking to all my family members; mom, sisters, aunts, uncles, cousins, but they didn’t even know how to process their own feelings.

I turned to God for an answer and I prayed for my grandmother. The passing of my grandmother was a painful experience and I spent that summer grieving her death.

My grandmother passed away in Mexico and I didn’t have a chance to go to her funeral at that time. I still wanted to give my grandmother a proper goodbye.

After I found out the news about my grandmother, all of the memories we spent together came rushing down at once and I spent the days following her death just thinking about her. My relationship with my grandmother was complicated. She didn’t have a good relationship with my mom and her siblings and unfortunately, that burden was passed down to her grandchildren.

I went through a period of forgiveness while grieving for my grandmother. I still loved my grandmother and wanted to be able to express my love to her even after her death. I thought about all the things she loved to do, she liked gardening, cooking, and singing ranchera songs, while she did her chores. She particularly liked Lola Beltran and Vicente Fernandez songs.

Suddenly, a pleasant memory of her came to my mind, it was my grandmother in her kitchen making her favorite dish, Mexican mole.

She loved making this dish, she had her own secret ingredient that up until now, no one knows what that special ingredient was that made her mole so delicious.

I called my aunt from Mexico, whom I didn’t really have a good relationship with back when I lived there, but who knew my grandmother very well and took care of her before she passed away.

She told me that my grandmother was getting ready to prepare mole later on that day for one of her granddaughter’s birthday party. Since mole is a very elaborate dish that could take days to make, at least the way my grandmother made it, she wanted to prepare it two days ahead before the party.

My grandmother was planning to make mole the day she passed away and she didn’t get a chance to make it…

Then, all of the sudden I thought, “my grandmother wanted to make her favorite dish and she didn’t get a chance to… what if I make it for her, what if I make it for her in her honor? After all, I’ve been wanting to do something special to give her a proper goodbye. Perhaps, this is it. I’ll attempt to make mole for the first time in my life.”

Mole seemed so daunting and difficult to make. My mom learned to make mole all by herself when we moved to this country in the 90’s, and I loved whenever she made it, but I never imagined myself making this elaborate dish, I always thought this was something reserved for the older women in my family.

I had to go buy many of the ingredients as this special dish calls for many spices and dried chilies. I realized after I gathered all the ingredients to make mole that I was going to have to replace some of the ingredients of this dish as I was not going to be able to find them in the U.S.

The day I made mole for the first time, I was very emotional, I cried throughout the process of making it, I prayed and talked to my grandmother’s spirit so she could help me prepare this special dish. I could hear her telling me what I should add and omit, even though we never had the opportunity to cook mole together.

Throughout the process of making mole, I released all of my negative and positive emotions that I had towards my grandmother. This process was cathartic. I would say that preparing mole after my grandmother’s death, was very therapeutic for me.

It was an all-day event trying to prepare mole for the first time. My older daughter who was five-years old at the time assisted me, and I had my mom’s mole recipe (which she learned on her own), and I also had my aunt’s mole recipe who shared it with me when I called her after my grandmother’s passing.

This process of making an elaborate Mexican dish helped me to be more confident in myself about cooking Mexican food. I had to learn to make decisions about which ingredients I could replace and how it would make my mole taste better.

By the end of the day, my mole was finally done and it tasted delicious, it wasn’t quite my grandmother’s mole, but it was my own version of Mexican mole. Also, after making mole several times now, I realized that no matter how much I tried to replicate my grandmother’s mole, my mole was not going to taste the same as hers. For example, my mom’s mole tends to be spicier because she doesn’t like it sweet and it is still delicious, but it is not my grandmother’s mole, my aunt and I prepared my grandmother’s mole and it turned out so good, it was spicy and sweet at the same time, so rich and thick that I would say, her mole was as close to my grandmother’s, but still, it wasn’t my grandmother’s mole…

Since that day, I’ve been attempting to prepare my grandmother’s favorite recipes, with the help of my mom, who remembers some dishes and my aunt from Mexico who used to help my grandmother prepare those dishes. Little by little, I’ve been putting together my grandmother’s recipes and have been working at recreating them.

In 2019, I finally had the opportunity to visit San Luis Potosi, the place where I was born and where my grandmother lived before her death and I accepted my aunt’s invitation to visit her at my grandmother’s house.

I wanted to learn how to cook my grandmother’s mole and hear from my aunt, who spent the most time with her before she passed; what ingredients did she put? how did she measure ingredients? what were the secrets in her mole?

Mexican Mole is made with at least 20 ingredients. My grandmother’s mole has at least 20 and no more than 50 ingredients.

Preparing my grandmother’s mole was not an easy task, it took all day, but I didn’t mind because I was able to make new memories with my aunt, who was now willing to share with me anecdotes and recipes of my grandmother.

Mole is an ancestral dish from from the Aztecs. Mole comes from the Nahuatl mulli, meaning sauce.

We spent a memorable day together to say the least, but most of all, I believe that the ritual of preparing my grandmother’s mole helped me to get close to my grandmother in many ways I thought possible. I’ve learned so much about my grandmother throughout this process, such as, why she was the way she was, where did she come from, why did she cook this special dish the way she did, and why she never took the time to teach her children, and grandchildren how to prepare and appreciate this beautiful talent that she had, which was cooking.

Preparing my grandmother’s mole at my grandmother’s house in 2019.
My aunt and I prepared my grandmother’s mole and it turned out so good, it was spicy and sweet at the same time.

I wish that my grandmother had known how much her cooking meant to all of us. That her cooking was meant to be shared not only with friends and neighbors, but with her own kin, her children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren. That knowing how to cook from the heart is not to be taken for granted and it is something to be worthy of being passed down to her future generations.

One of the things that made me really sad after my grandmother passed away was that I wished she would’ve personally taught me how to cook her special recipes, that she would’ve taken the time to teach me how to make her beloved mole recipe, and that we would’ve spent more time together.

It’s been seven years since her passing, and every year I prepare mole in her honor. Last year my daughter helped me prepare mole and she prepared most of it on her own. My mole doesn’t quite taste like my grandmother’s and that’s ok, we are trying to create our own recipe. It won’t be my grandmother’s mole, even though I loved her mole; it won’t be my mother’s either, even though hers tastes delicious; and it won’t be my aunt’s mole, even though I loved her mole dish, but it will be our own mole, our own family recipe; one prepared with love and one that will be shared with our future generations.

How Vicente Fernández Music Helped me reconnect with my Grandmother

About twelve days ago, Mexico lost a great ranchera music singer of all time.

When I first found out he passed away, I couldn’t believe it, I had just heard a few months ago that he was in the hospital recuperating from a surgery.

I didn’t know why, but I was sad about Vicente Fernandez passing. “Why was I sad? I wasn’t even a big fan!” I said to myself.

He passed away on Sunday, December 12, 2021 at 6:15 a.m. and I watched his funeral and memorial service the following day. It was very emotional.

I’ve had a week to reflect on his passing and why I became so emotional about it.

I realized that Vicente Fernandez represented more than a Mexican music icon and one of the last ranchera singers of all time; his death became more personal to me.

My grandmother used to love Vicente Fernandez music, she used to sing his songs whenever she was doing her usual weekend chores, like washing clothes in her backyard where she also tended her garden. My grandmother’s backyard house had a traditional layout like most houses in Mexico; a washboard made of concrete right next to a small garden, most Mexican households still have this in their backyard nowadays.

My grandmother used to love singing songs of Lola Beltrán and Vicente Fernández, two famous Mexican ranchera singers who are considered the best in regional folk music. Lola Beltrán passed away in 1996, but her style of music and songs have become a big influence in future new comers to ranchera music.

Ranchera music is a genre of traditional music from Mexico. It dates to before the years of the Mexican Revolution. It later became closely associated with the Mariachi bands that evolved in the state of Jalisco.

A sudden memory of my grandmother singing “Cucurrucucú Paloma” by Lola Beltrán while she washed her clothes in her garden, took over me after I found out Vicente Fernández had just passed away. His passing reminded me of how much my grandmother loved ranchera music.

My memories of my grandmother are of her almost always being stressed out and being upset about something, but when she was in her backyard, tending her garden and washing her clothes, she seemed relaxed. That’s one of the few times I remember her being happy.

I believe that the reason why she felt happy and relaxed in her backyard is because this was the only place that reminded her of her hometown in the countryside, away from the foreign, busy city which was not her home. Her backyard had a garden where she tended her flowers, fruits, and birds. I believe she often got homesick as I’m told she grew up around horses, ranchera music, and farm life.

My grandmother was originally from Santa Cruz de las Flores, Jalisco a small town within close distance to Vicente’s hometown, Huentitán El Alto, Jalisco. She migrated to San Luis Potosí, another state located about five hours away from her hometown, after she met my grandfather and got married. I think my grandmother identified to Vicente in so many ways, he was from a small town just like her and his music reminded her of her hometown in Jalisco. Vicente’s songs talked about living in the countryside of Mexico and I can see why my grandmother could identify with him as she also grew up in the countryside.

The state of Jalisco, where my grandmother was born, is also famous for their Mariachi music, which is a type of regional Mexican music composed of a variety of mostly stringed instruments, the songs talk about country life in Mexico as well as about love and loss.

In fact, Mariachi music originated in Cocula, Jalisco, in the state where my grandmother was born and raised, the fact that this music originated and became popular in this region of Mexico, where my grandmother grew up, made my grandmother identify even more to Vicente Fernandez.

Growing up in Mexico, Vicente’s music was very prevalent in every household, I remember my grandmother playing his songs on her record player during family reunions and parties. I never thought I would stop listening to them until the day I left Mexico. I guess I took it for granted, and thought that I would continue to listen to this beautiful music forever.

Suddenly, one day, I left Mexico and stopped listening to Vicente Fernandez’ songs on the radio. His songs were replaced by American country and classic rock songs. If I ever came across any songs from Vicente Fernandez in the United States, I would become excited and nostalgic while trying to figure out where the music was coming from.

It was as if all of the sudden Vicente Fernandez and his ranchera songs were more important than any other music in the world.

This is how Vicente Fernandez ranchera songs became essential to the life of many Mexican immigrants who came to the United States, including myself. As his songs comforted many immigrants who, being away from their hometown and being homesick from their country, listened and sung along Vicente’s most popular songs, like “Los Mandados,” “Volver, Volver,”“México Lindo y Querido,” and “Por tu Maldito Amor.”

Then I understood why I felt very emotional about Vicente Fernandez passing, he represented Mexico and everything I left behind, my country, my culture, my food, my identity, my extended family, and my beloved grandmother…

His death reminded me of when I left my country and my grandmother.

Vicente represented not just my grandmother’s songs, but also my life in Mexico and everything I left behind.

His songs will forever remind me of Mexico, my grandmother, and the life I was knew before coming to a foreign country.

Rest in Peace Vicente Fernandez, your music will be remembered forever!

Vicente Fernández

Pumpkin Patches, Corn Mazes, Hay Rides and Apple Cider

Autumn is always one of my favorite seasons.

I love the beautiful change of foliage that happens during this season. I get to be like a child again and play outside. I can decorate our home for harvest season and Halloween. I can finally slowdown after the long summer day activities and enjoy a hot cup of apple cider while eating some delicious apple cider donuts. I can sit down and read that book I’ve been wanting to read for a long time, or I can finally catch up with my blogging and journaling.

I love seeing these colors all around the East Coast in the fall.

Apple cider donuts are a fall tradition in the northeastern United States.

A year ago, I blogged about my first Halloween experience as a preteen when my family and I migrated to the U.S. On my post Our First Halloween in the U.S. I shared about how Halloween was foreign to me while growing up in Mexico and how it quickly became one of my family’s favorite holidays. Since then, I’ve been celebrating this holiday even as an adult and especially now that I became a mom and have kids of my own.

My kids and I have tons of fun during the fall season. When school is about to start, right before fall, we like to decorate inside and outside with harvest-inspired décor. We get excited every year as we plan what Halloween costumes we are going to wear that year.

We also started a new tradition when my first daughter was born: we go visit a pumpkin patch. When my family migrated to the U.S., we didn’t know anything about pumpkin patches. I first learned about pumpkin patches in my adulthood when I moved to the East Coast to attend college. Pumpkin patches are a very popular tradition in the U.S. especially in places like the Midwest and the East Coast where the change of foliage is very visible.

Ghost Pumpkins, Spaghetti Squash, Butternut Squash, and Green Acorn Squash.

Different kinds of pumpkins and gourds are found at pumpkin patches.

Dried gourds usually used for fall decoration.

Entire families like to visit pumpkin patches in the fall. Depending on the size of the pumpkin patch, some will have activities like big slides where both adults and children can participate. A large pumpkin patch will have all the popular activities including hay rides, corn mazes, hunted houses, bon fires at night, food concessions where one can buy the most popular fall favorites like apple cider, apples, kettle corn, apple cider donuts, caramel apples and hot chocolate.

Corn mazes are a favorite fall tradition in the U.S.

A corn maze at a pumpkin patch.

Hayrides are part of a pumpkin patch experience in North America.

Pumpkin patches, Halloween and fall season are some of my favorite things that I look forward to every year.

Dry corn stalks are part of fall decoration in the U.S. and Canada.

I am very grateful this year to be able to attend a pumpkin patch and make new memories again with my family. Last year most pumpkin patches were closed due to the pandemic and fall season just wasn’t the same.

I did notice that even pumpkin patches have altered the way they conduct business, with more rules implemented this year due to the pandemic. First and foremost, we might have to wear a face mask now. We may have to visit a pumpkin patch during the week, rather than on the weekend, to avoid crowds. We may also have to wash our hands more often now. But I don’t mind doing all these things as long as I get the opportunity to go and play in a pumpkin patch with my family.

Pumpkin patches, Halloween and fall season are some of my favorite things that I look forward to every year. They’re also some of the new traditions I chose to adopt and keep after I migrated to the U.S. Día de los Muertos and autumn season in Mexico are very different than what we do here, but there is no reason why I must choose one over the other. They’re both special in their own way and I love being able to celebrate both.

Enjoy these beautiful fall season and Happy Halloween!

Happy Halloween!

Los Juegos – A Childhood Memoir

As a child, back when I lived in Mexico, my cousins and I used to go to a place we called los juegos. Los juegos —Spanish for the playground— was a special place for all of us. Back then, I believed los juegos were the happy, go-to place for kids everywhere. This was also one of the places where I felt the safest.

The playground was managed by the local government of San Luis Potosí, which charged an entrance fee of one peso per kid. A security guard was always on duty, managing the entrance door and collecting the entrance fees from the fingers of eager children ready to go climb and run around every corner.

As I said, I felt safe in this place. Perhaps it was the security guards, whom I thought were policemen. Maybe the uniform they wore or their professional demeanor put me at ease. It could also be due to the fact that both my grandmother and our moms felt it was safe letting us go to this playground. Granted, we had to go as a group, never on our own. Back in those days going places in groups was all my cousins and I did.

I have many happy memories of los juegos:my cousins and I meeting new friends and playing with them, all of us spending long hours and entire weekends playing there. When we eventually were all played out and made our way back home, oh my, we were all so very hungry and thirsty!

Now as an adult, I reminisce a lot about these fond memories. And as a mother, I dreamed of one day taking my kids to this special place where I was once happy.

The opportunity finally came during our trip to San Luis Potosí in 2019. Unfortunately, since December is one of the coldest months, los juegos remained closed for most of our time there.

During that trip, we spent almost three weeks in San Luis Potosí, visiting friends, spending time with family and taking in the sights. Between our packed schedule, the Christmas holiday festivities and days (most of them) when los juegos were closed during our time there, I was not able to take my kids to my favorite childhood playground. However, we did manage to squeeze in some time at a playground at one of the places we visited.

The place we went to is called Los Adobes, an hacienda-style restaurant with a big playground in the back reserved for customers. It is a family-friendly restaurant with a country-style atmosphere. After customers enjoy a delicious buffet-style meal, they can go outside and enjoy the playground and the beautiful pond in the back of the property.

Los Adobes, an hacienda-style restaurant located between San Luis Potosí and Guanajuato.
an hacienda-style restaurant with a big playground in the back.
the beautiful pond in the back of the property.
Maguey plants outside the restaurant.
Maguey plant outside the restaurant.

The views there were just breathtaking: the playground was kept in great condition and the food was delicious. I think the playground was the best part of my family’s outing that day, though the food came in at a close second.

After we got back from our trip to Mexico and while looking at the pictures of this trip, I saw my daughters’ faces illuminated with a big smile while running around and enjoying the restaurant’s playground. I realized that it didn’t matter if we weren’t able to make it to my favorite childhood playground as long as we were together at a playground in Mexico making new memories.

Looking at the beautiful sunset over the mountains, between San Luis Potosí and Guanajuato, my daughters were helping me relive my most cherished childhood memories and for a moment I was a happy child once more, spending endless hours playing in a playground.

a happy child spending endless hours playing in a playground.

A Testimony of Reconciliation and Love During COVID-19

I want to dedicate this post to my aunt who is battling COVID-19.

The last week of January has been a roller coaster of emotions for me as I recently found out my aunt was battling COVID-19.

I was just told on Sunday, January 24th that my aunt was admitted into the hospital and would probably stay there for a couple of days. That Sunday, I had so many emotions, I was angry, sad, disappointed, desperate…

Not only did I have to deal with the fact that my aunt lives in another country, which I can’t travel due to this pandemic, but even if I did travel, I could not go into her house or the hospital and be beside her due to the social distance restrictions.

Distance, once again becomes an obstacle for me in trying to reach those family members I want to connect with.

In my previous posts, I have discussed distance as a major obstacle for those of us who have to leave behind our relatives and country in order to better our lives. Distance and being far away are not new to me, I have had to deal with this since I moved to another country.

This time, it’s different, almost everyone in the world right now is experiencing what is like being far away from those who we love. We do this to keep them safe.

I was really emotional when I found out my aunt in Mexico had COVID-19, I had been praying for protection for everyone in my home, including my extended family who live far away in Mexico and other parts of the country. I was so grateful this past year, that no one in my family had been seriously affected by COVID-19.

This past January has been a difficult month, it’s almost like December was not the end of the year, but perhaps January should’ve been added to the year 2020. What an eventful month we had in the U.S. in January!

I had just talked to my aunt over the phone right after Christmas Day, and she asked me to call her on New Year’s Eve to say “Hello” to everyone, including my cousins and nieces and nephews whom I had just seen last year when I traveled to Mexico.

I had meant to call her, but one thing led to another and the events that have transpired in the U.S. within last month had everyone on edge. In Mexico, January 6th is a special holiday, it is Three Kings’ Day or Epiphany Day. I had planned to call my aunt that day since I knew she was going to be celebrating it.

Instead, the news got my undivided attention as I watched in horror how the U.S. Capitol was under siege in an attempted coup. I knew that was not a good day to call my aunt, I was emotional. The following week was more of the same, all of the sudden I was waking up every morning to watch the news and find out what was happening to this country.

Two Wednesdays after that, I was watching the Presidential Inauguration.

I figured I would call my aunt that weekend after the Presidential Inauguration and I figured it would be the right time since it was getting close to her birthday, which was on January 29th.

Unfortunately, that weekend I found out that my aunt had to go to the hospital as she was really ill and was battling COVID-19 for some days now.

That week had been very emotional for me, I spend most nights praying for my aunt and trusting that God would not abandon her. This past week I was a little bit calmer, but I have been doing a lot of reflection about my relationship with my aunt.

I was not close to my aunt when I was a little girl. She was the aunt that everyone “disliked” and almost no one in our family got along with her. I grew up in my grandmother’s house and my aunt lived with her, as my grandmother aged, my aunt was the one who took care and looked after her until my grandmother passed away in 2015.

My aunt was not the nicest person when she was younger and there was a lot of animosity between her sisters and brothers. I always saw my aunt as the most unpleasant aunt of all my aunts and as I grew up, I never really made an attempt to keep in touch with her.

When I left Mexico in the 90’s my aunt was not one of the family members I said good-bye to. I had no relationship with her.

It wasn’t until my grandmother passed away five years ago that our initial relationship began.

At first, I started calling my grandmother’s house to inquire about my grandmother during her last days before her death, then after a while I started calling my aunt to ask her about my grandmother’s cooking recipes.

God is the only one I have to give credit to for the reconciliation between my aunt and I.

About two years ago, God revealed to me that I was to go and visit my aunt and her family, I was very hesitant at first because I didn’t have a relationship with her. I remembered that my aunt had invited me to visit her the year my grandmother passed away in 2015, but I had declined the invitation.

As I went through the difficult process of grieving from my grandmother’s death, I was also studying the Word and learning more about the ministry of reconciliation. God began to minister to me about reconciliation. I knew then that this was my journey.

One of the people I had to reconcile with was my aunt from Mexico and I knew that God was guiding me into starting a new relationship with her.

I called my aunt over the phone and let her know that I wanted to take her up on her offer and go and visit her during Christmas.

In 2019, my husband and kids traveled to the place where I was born and they met my aunt face to face for the first time.

We were all very excited, but at the same time not knowing what to expect, I had no relationship with my aunt before, and didn’t know how this trip would turn out.

I spent Christmas with my family in Mexico for the first time!

One of my most memorable experiences from that trip was when I went to the open market, Mercado República from San Luis Potosí.

My aunt, cousin, my daughter and I went to Mercado República to buy ingredients for the special Christmas Eve dinner, which was the following day.

I have shared about this particular trip in one of my previous blog posts, A Very Special Christmas in San Luis Potosí.

We spend a very nice afternoon, going shopping for the first time together to prepare a special dinner for Christmas Day. I never thought I would get to do something like this with my aunt, never thought I would get to spend time with her at all.

When I think back about the time, we spent together during Christmas 2019, I am amazed to see what God has done in our lives. I don’t think I would’ve been able to do this on my own. I definitely thank God for bringing reconciliation between my aunt and I.

Christmas 2019 was one that I will never forget. Not only was the first time that I took my family back to the place where I was born, but I took a leap of faith by obeying God and accepting my aunt’s invitation to spend a Christmas at her house.

We spent twenty-one days in Mexico during that Christmas, celebrating Christmas Day, New Year’s Day and Epiphany Day on January 6th.

We left Mexico tired from the traveling, excited about these new experiences, and hoping to go back in the future to spend more time with my aunt and her family. We thought perhaps in a year or two we would go back to Mexico to spent more time with them again.

Little did we know that a world pandemic would soon take over and turn our world upside down. The year 2020 had just began when we started hearing the news about COVID-19 cases in the U.S. I never thought this pandemic would get this serious to the point that not even the government in the U.S. would be able to control it.

Despite all the chaos and panic that this pandemic created in the entire world, the one thing I am able to appreciate now going on almost a year since the pandemic started, is having traveled to Mexico to see my extended family while I had the chance.

I don’t think my family and I will be able to travel back to San Luis Potosí the same way we did in 2019, at least not for a few years.

Too many things at stake, the pandemic is still out of control in the U.S. and in Mexico, the airports have become a hub of infection for COVID-19, the new protocols required to fly have changed and it’ll be more difficult to travel with kids internationally, but the most important thing that it’s at stake is my aunt’s health condition, especially now that she is recuperating from COVID-19.

My aunt is considered a high-risk individual, which is why COVID-19 sent her to the hospital. Thankfully, my aunt spent just a few days at the hospital and has recently been released and is at home recuperating.

I am just very thankful that my aunt is alive and was able to go back home with her family, even though she’s still struggling with minor problems and her body is slowly recuperating, she is still alive and she gets to spent more time with her family at home.

Unfortunately, not everyone who battled COVID-19 can say the same…

We are currently dealing with a lot of COVID-19 cases, which were expected because of the Christmas holidays.

I recently heard of at least two classmates of mine who attended High School with me back in the 90’s, who have lost their father due to COVID-19. It’s hard to believe, but it’s true. Many people have lost a parent or family member due to COVID-19.

Finding out that my aunt has COVID-19 makes me realize how important it is that everyone takes this pandemic seriously, particularly younger people, who when infected can become asymptomatic, but they can infect other family members who can end up in the hospital.

I also have been doing a lot of reflecting on my new relationship with my aunt and every day I am grateful for the opportunity to have traveled to Mexico, while I still had the chance, before this pandemic turned our world upside down.

I am grateful to God because He put in my heart the desire to go back to Mexico and reconcile with my aunt. I am grateful because He made that desire a reality, and even though I didn’t quite understand why I had to go back to Mexico to spend time with my aunt, I still went ahead and took that leap of faith.

Sometimes we don’t understand why God asks us to do something we don’t really want to do; we want things explained and questions answered before we say “yes” to God. God is looking for obedience, this is the way He helps our faith grow.

It is my wish to be able to see my aunt again in the future, I pray that God heals her and that we continue this new relationship that God initiated. I hope that in a few years, this pandemic subsides and for those of us who have relatives in a faraway country, that we are able to travel again with confidence so we can go visit those relatives we are yearning to see.

I thank God for His goodness and all the blessings He has given me.

I also pray for those who have lost a loved one to COVID-19 this year or last year. That God helps you cope with this loss and brings comfort to you and your family.

During these trying times, I have grown closer to my aunt because of our reconciliation, but now that she is sick recuperating from COVID-19, I have become more compassionate with people who are sick with this virus or who have lost a loved one due to COVID-19. Every day I pray for my aunt, I have spoken to her once through video call, but because she’s still weak, I don’t want her to struggle.

This is the perfect time to show what God’s love is all about, there are many people in need right now who need comfort, love, resources, or just someone that cares. People are hurting right now, and unfortunately, many people have turned a blind eye to the people who are hurting. This is not the time to be indifferent or ignore what is going on in the world.

I am hopeful that we will get through this pandemic and when we all come out of this experience, I hope that we all have learned something valuable that helps us to become better human beings.

My Aunt and I during Christmas 2019 in San Luis Potosí.
My Aunt and I during Christmas 2019 in San Luis Potosí.

A Bonfire Ritual to say Goodbye to the Year 2020

The last full moon in 2020.

To say that “this has been a challenging year for all of us,” would be an overused and cliché statement.

I have been hearing this phrase over and over from newsletters to social media posts, and honestly, I’m tired of hearing and reading it.

It has been a difficult year for all of us. I don’t need to be reminded of this and conclude this year on a gloomy note.

I wanted to close the year 2020 on a positive note. So, I decided to end this year by doing something different; just like this year 2020 has been…different.

I looked out the window and got a glimpse of this beautiful, round, yellow circle staring right at me from the horizon. I had forgotten that it was a full moon on December 29, 2020. The last full moon of 2020.

I ran to the computer and read that this was a cold moon, the ancient name given to the full moon in December.

No wonder I was feeling very emotional that day, since I woke up that morning.

I was totally mesmerized by the beauty of the full moon. I had never seen it like that, right after sunset.

The cold moon, the ancient name given to the full moon in December.
The cold moon, the ancient name given to the full moon in December.

I told my daughters to get ready because we were having a bonfire that night.

I’ve been wanting to do a bonfire in December, but it’s been really wet this month in the East Coast. So, I kept putting it off until a better day. “Today was the day,” I said to myself.

I ran outside and started prepping the fire pit. My youngest daughter got so excited by just watching me get excited about the bonfire. I had stored a bag of marshmallows, Hershey’s chocolate, and graham cookies since the summer. I was getting ready for this day without realizing it!

We lit up the fire pit and we were completely hypnotized by the glow and movement of the fire.

A Bonfire Ritual to say Goodbye to the Year 2020.
A Bonfire Ritual to say Goodbye to the Year 2020.

I was inspired to write, and so, I wrote on a piece of paper all the things I wanted to let go this year. I asked my daughters and husband to do the same.

I wanted to let go of all the negative feelings accumulated through this year; whether from watching the news and media to the difficult situations we experienced as a result of this pandemic.

After we wrote our notes on a piece of paper, we threw them with mighty force into the fire and watched them burn and turn into ashes.

We threw them with mighty force into the fire and watched them burn and turn into ashes.
We threw them with mighty force into the fire and watched them burn and turn into ashes.

We concluded our bonfire by singing karaoke, eating s’mores, and admiring the beauty of the full moon.

Goodbye year 2020.

You have taught good lessons to every one of us!

I’m feeling nostalgic about this year, especially knowing that this is the end of a season, and the beginning of another one.

But, I’m ready to start the year 2021.

I am ready, committed, and inspired to start all those projects I’ve been putting on hold.

Here’s to a new year full of health, blessings, love, and making all our dreams come true!

Happy New Year!

Welcome year 2021!

Happy New Year! Welcome year 2021!
Happy New Year! Welcome year 2021!

Our First Halloween in the U.S.

I remember very vividly the first year after I moved to the U.S.; both the changing foliage of the autumn season and the concept of Halloween were foreign to me.

Beautiful tree changing foliage in the fall.

My family and I moved to U.S. in the 90’s as I began my teenage years. We moved to a small, rural Midwest town in Illinois. Every autumn, shortly after the start of a new school year, the leaves would change various shades of yellow, orange, red, purple, and brown. The humid summer air would start turning cool and crisp, announcing the transition to autumn.

Autumn also reminded me of coming home from school and looking forward to watching the Simpsons. After The Simpsons there was Roseanne, and then Buffy the Vampire Slayer, in that order. My Mom would have dinner ready right after The Simpsons. Watching The Simpsons always reminded me of Mexico as this was my favorite show before we moved to the states. Of course, back in Mexico I used to watch it in Spanish.

The first new friends we made there were another Mexican family who, like us, migrated to the U.S. from Mexico. This family had three sons and had lived here in the states for a while. We spent our first Halloween in the U.S. with them. One of their sons spoke to me in English, but because I barely knew the language, I only answered in short sentences.

I remember they wore spooky masks and carried pillow cases to collect candy that night. My sisters and I didn’t go trick-or-treating with them because we didn’t quite understand what it was. It seemed fun: seeing all the kids knocking on doors, asking for candy, as they yelled, “Trick or treat!”

Kids knocking on doors, asking for candy, as they yelled, “Trick or treat!”
Kids knocking on doors, asking for candy, as they yelled, “Trick or treat!”

We didn’t give away any candy that first year either, because, as I mentioned, we were not ready for or really understood what Halloween was all about. I felt very intrigued by the whole thing, especially after seeing how much fun our new friends had trick-or-treating.

After that unforgettable, first Halloween, my sisters and I started participating on the Halloween festivities. Most of my fondest memories growing up in the U.S. take place in the fall; with many of them revolving around Halloween. Every fall became a memorable moment in my mind, as I navigated through the difficult experiences of moving to another country and learning a new language, a new culture, and a new place to call home.

Now that I am older and a Mom, fall has become one of my favorite seasons of the year. It wasn’t until this year that I began wondering why this season was one of my favorites. Perhaps because it reminds me of those first years in the U.S. Those memories became so impressed and vivid in my mind partly because of the newness of it all, but also, I believe, because back then I felt anxious every time I started a new school year. Beginning a new school year in a foreign country while learning a new language will make most kids feel that way. Perhaps the new weather, which was so different from my native Mexico, was something I became fond of. And perhaps autumn reminds me of the good times I had with my family when we first moved to the U.S.

Changing tree leaves turn into red hues.
Changing tree leaves turn into red hues.

Living in the East Coast now as an adult and a parent, I now look forward to seeing the humid, stuffy summer heat turn into a nice, cool and crisp air, as the changing tree leaves turn into red, gold, and brown hues. I love going to pumpkin patches, buying everything that’s made with pumpkin, and going to see the changing foliage around the landscapes.

Fall will always remind me of my first years in the U.S., cool and crisp evenings while walking home from school, Halloween nights watching funny horror shows, and fond memories of my family together in our new home.

The pictures here are a collection from one of our first Halloween nights in the U.S. and the other ones from a previous visit to a Pumpkin Patch.

Bright orange pumpkins at a pumpkin patch.
Bright orange pumpkins at a pumpkin patch.

A Witch and her Cauldron display at a Pumpkin Patch.
A Witch and her Cauldron display at a Pumpkin Patch.

Pumpkins Patches are part of Halloween festivals in the U.S.
Pumpkins Patches are part of Halloween festivals in the U.S.

Halloween brings fond memories of my sisters and I growing up in the U.S.
Halloween brings fond memories of my sisters and I growing up in the U.S.

Different types of pumpkin varieties at a Pumpkin Patch.
Different types of pumpkin varieties at a Pumpkin Patch.

A Halloween display at a Pumpkin Patch in the U.S.
A Halloween display at a Pumpkin Patch in the U.S.

Corn Stalks and Pumpkins what Halloween is all about.
Corn Stalks and Pumpkins what Halloween is all about.





Visiting Shenandoah National Park during a Pandemic

My family and I recently visited Shenandoah National Park in Virginia. After being on lockdown and quarantine for months, we needed fresh air and to enjoy new sights far away from our home.

During this pandemic there aren’t many choices for safe, family-friendly activities this summer. Going to the beach is still not a safe choice for me and my family, especially with children. Theme parks are out of the question. And my favorite things to do -cultural festivals, wine festivals, and outdoor music concerts- were canceled in order to avoid large gatherings of people.

It is not until we go through something like this pandemic that we realize how much people rely on each other to make every day things happen. Outdoor activities, food establishments and other businesses that rely on a constant influx of customers to stay in business, fuel the economy at both the local and the national levels. Teachers and schools rely on students coming in to school so they can teach, otherwise they’re out of a job. On the one hand, you want to go out there and support local businesses, and on the other, you are concerned about staying safe and secure while the pandemic storm howls outside. This dichotomy has been on my mind over the last few months.

I understand that we need to take care of ourselves so we can, in turn, take care of others. I kept this in mind as I thought of what sort of activities, we could do this summer. The best place I could think of was the outdoors.

Wild columbine or Aquilegia canadensis is found at Shenandoah National Park.

I remembered that about seven years ago, I went on a hike in Shenandoah National Park with my extended family and, although we didn’t plan the trip very well, and didn’t realize how extraneous this activity was going to be, we did make some good memories in the end. At the time, we had discussed the possibility of getting to see the waterfalls. Secretly, I was determined to make it happen. So, after about two hours of hiking with my less than enthused family we made it to the waterfalls! At that time, my oldest child was three years old.

This month, we decided to visit Shenandoah National Park the weekend before Fourth of July, so we could avoid large crowds. At least, that’s what we thought. I was so surprised to see more people at the park than I did around the same time seven years ago. Back in 2013, during our now legendary hike to the waterfalls, there wasn’t a lot of people in the trails. At that time, we went hiking around Mathews Arm, which is one of the most popular trails at Shenandoah. At that time, there were just a few visitors and we ran into people on the trail only every twenty minutes or so. During our recent visit to Shenandoah National Park, the number of visitors was a lot higher and the visitors were very diverse. There were a lot of professional hikers at the park, but there were also small families like us, who took their kids hiking as well. There were even extended families visiting the park, which included grandparents and even dogs as part of their extensive entourage. The public restrooms were mostly empty when I went to use one, but by the time I got out there was already a line of people waiting outside the door. I couldn’t believe it; I didn’t know so many people were all of the sudden interested in the outdoors, especially at this park.

I realized that I wasn’t the only one feeling the stress of the pandemic and, just like me, everyone else also felt the need to get out of the house after being quarantined for so many days.

I figured that many of the visitors at the park were people who had never been there before. Perhaps they wouldn’t have come to Shenandoah if it wasn’t for the pandemic. But after not having many choices to go to this summer and after being quarantined for months, the parks and the outdoors are the only places that we have left to go to.

Shenandoah National Park extends along the Blue Ridge Mountains in the U.S. state of Virginia.

beautiful wildflowers found at Shenandoah National Park.

beautiful wildflowers at Shenandoah National Park

Swamp thistle or Cirsium muticum is found throughout Shenandoah National Park.
Swamp thistle or Cirsium muticum is found throughout Shenandoah National Park.

Erigeron annuus also known as daisy fleabane is found at Shenandoah National Park.

Wildflowers found at Shenadoah National Park.

During the hike, many people wore face coverings, masks, even plastic gloves, while a selected few still refused to wear anything at all. On most instances, these later folks wouldn’t even try to keep social distance when running into other people. This experience showed me how different our thinking is when it comes to this pandemic.

I wanted to take care of my family, so I modeled responsible social distance practices every time we ran into other hikers; whether they were wearing a face mask or not. Any time hikers approached on our trail we would move away from them as far as we could, always giving them the right of way. My entire family wore face masks and we only took them off when there was no one else around. It was annoying and unpleasant as most of the time we were the ones moving away from people and letting them pass. Plus, doing a very extraneous exercise such as hiking while wearing a face mask only made the exercise a lot harder.

We were not able to reach the waterfall at Mathews Arm; we only hiked about two miles and turned around and came back. I was being mindful that we had a three-year old with us who was not going to last the whole trip. So, this time around, I opted to keep the trip short.

Fly Poison or Amianthium muscitoxicum.

Mathews Arm Area at Shenandoah National Park.

Shenandoah is home to over 400 species of fungi such as this one.

another variety of mushroom found at Shenandoah National Park.

The Path – Shenandoah National Park

I love hiking and the outdoors and when I get the chance, I like to stay out all day and end up so tired that I just want to take a shower and go to bed. But one of the greatest lessons I learned during this whole pandemic is that we need to be mindful and considerate of others. I needed to be mindful of my kids and realize that they were not going to hike 6.5 miles round trip just to see a waterfall. I also had to be mindful of my husband, who would, inevitably, would end up carrying one or both kids on the way back had we walked all the way to the waterfalls. I had to be mindful and realize that other people disagree about how this new virus spreads or about how serious it is. I had to be mindful and accept that I might not get what I want all the time, especially while going through this pandemic. Instead, I was reminded to be grateful that at least I was able to at least do something I wanted. I had to be mindful and considerate of the fact that this new virus can put other people and families at risk when we choose not to do something as simple as keeping six feet away from others or wear my face mask, and that, even still, some people refused to do any or all of these things.

Even though hiking and the way we go about doing things today is different than what we were used to, we did manage to create nice memories during our trip. I’m glad to see that more people are getting out and visiting this beautiful park, and hopefully they will become aware about how important it is to take care of nature and our world. I am grateful that I live in a place where I can go visit wide open spaces and amazing outdoor locations such as Shenandoah National Park. I came back with a refreshed mind, ready to start my week, even in the middle of this stressful pandemic. There is no doubt that Nature can heal.

I love hiking and the outdoors.
I love hiking and the outdoors.

Visiting Shenandoah National Park during a Pandemic.

Lighting a Candle in Memory of my Grandmother

Today I am lighting a candle in memory of my grandmother.

She passed away on a sunny summer day on a Wednesday morning on June 24th.

A day like any other, when everyone was going about, getting ready to go to work and start their day.

I have written about grieving for my grandmother in previous posts because this is the one person in my life whose loss has affected me the most, but it’s also the experience that God has used to cause me to grow the most in my spiritual life.

When I first found out she passed away, it took me a while to process the news. After that, I felt all sorts of conflicting feelings: anger, hurt, disappointment, sadness, fear, and more. For the rest of that year I spent my days praying and being close to God, who comforted me as I found a way to move forward.

The first year was tough. The second, a little more manageable. By the third and fourth I felt I could manage with God’s help. And now, during the fifth year, I feel I can share my feelings with people and with those I love.

During the first couple of years after her passing I used to grieve about what could’ve been. What hurt me the most was not having spent the time I wanted to with my grandmother. All the things we could’ve done together as grandmother and granddaughter: all the times she could’ve sat with me and shared her stories growing up in her hometown or taught me valuable lessons about life. I grieved for the relationship we could’ve had and we didn’t. This hurt me the most after her passing.

But one of the most important things God taught me during this experience was to let go.  Let go of what could’ve been and didn’t happen. Letting go of the relationship I always wanted to have with her but couldn’t. Letting go of all the things I wished she did for me and the things I dreamed we could’ve done together.

God helped me to accept the way things are. He helped me forgive those who I needed to forgive in order to move on. He taught me I should instead do something with the things I do have control over.

Because of that, I chose to forgive.

By forgiving her, I experienced a great deliverance in my spirit that was long overdue.

Little by little, as I allowed God to guide me, I walked through the path that He laid before me toward forgiveness and acceptance. God took me to places where I don’t think I would’ve been able to walk on my own. I also had the opportunity to go back to the place where I was born and visit my grandmother’s house and make peace with my extended family. All of this for the glory of God.

It was through this loss that God taught me what it means to forgive someone you love. He also taught me to let go of the past, of painful experiences as well as of places that were preventing me from moving forward. He also taught me about reconciliation.

On this, the fifth observance of my grandmother’s passing, I want to light a candle and pray for her memory. I pray that she rests in peace and that God lets her know how much I love her. Also, that I forgive her and that my love for her has canceled any and all wrongdoings and hurts. I pray for the relationships between her and her children, that they also find a way to reconcile and make peace with her.

I pray that God helps my grandmother’s children to heal properly and experience reconciliation, so that they can have better relationships with their own children and grandchildren in turn. Above all, I pray that this new generation will understand the fear and love of God and will be blessed from this point onward and for generations yet to come.

Rest in Peace Abuelita Francisca and to God be the glory forever and ever, Amen.

Lighting a Candle in Memory of my Grandmother.

The Point of Convergence in the Past Two Years

Exactly two years ago, I embarked on the journey of starting this blog, The Point of Convergence.

I wanted to share how this blog has evolved since then.

At first, I wanted to dedicate this blog to the memory of my time growing up in Mexico.  The more I wrote about those memories, the more I realized that I didn’t want to just continue focusing on those memories of long ago; otherwise I would run the risk of getting stuck in the past.  So, I began to write about my life in the present and in the process of doing this I realized something.

San Luis Potosí Cathedral in 2000 the place where I grew up and often write about.

In these past two years something really important and exciting took place in my life.  This last Christmas, I was blessed with the opportunity to go back to the place where I grew up, San Luis Potosí.  This is the place that I often find myself writing about, the place that has inspired me to continue writing despite everything going on in the world.  It’s the place that inspired me to begin this personal blog from the beginning.

San Luis Potosí Cathedral in 2020 the place where I grew up.

San Luis Potosí Government Palace in 2020 during Christmas.

During that trip, I got to see my extended family and reestablish new relationships.  I also visited those places that I yearned to see and which I often talked about in my blog.  I realized many relationships with friends and family members won’t be able to just “pick up where they left off” and move forward.  Some of those relationships will require more work and some might just have to be ended.

For a whole year, I wrote for this blog focusing on my life in Mexico.  Then something unexpectedly happened in my life that was very unfortunate and made me reevaluate the focus on this blog; my stepdad passed away on April 13, 2019.  During that month I didn’t have time or the energy to write a blog post.  I had one ready to publish before he passed away, but chose not to publish it.  Because he was important to me, I felt like I needed to take time to mourn the passing of my stepdad.

May you rest in Peace stepdad knowing that you are now with our Lord Jesus Christ.

My stepdad used to sit here during sunset. He’s no longer here and this place reminds me of him.

It was his passing that caused me to redirect the focus of my blog.  I decided to include a post dedicated to his memory.  For the first time, I wrote about my life in the present.  It was as if my writing took a detour in that moment; it became a turning point.  The passing of my stepdad also made me realize that although it is important to have closure and heal from past hurts, it is also important to live in the present because spending too much time reminiscing about the past may cause your present life and any beautiful moments in it to pass by right before your eyes.

After this event, I also began including God in my writing.  God is an important part of my life, so why not include Him and give Him credit for the things He has done for me?

This year in 2020, two years after I began this blog, another major event is taking place right now as I am writing this; the epidemic of coronavirus, which has taken the entire world by surprise.

This is a time of change, a time of new beginnings.

While reflecting on these events, some that brings us tears and some that brings us joy, I find comfort and wisdom in what the Bible says about life in the book of Ecclesiastes, “There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven: a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance, a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them, a time to embrace and a time to refrain,” (Ecclesiastes 3:4,5).

A Time for Everything Ecclesiastes 3:4,5

We are to enjoy life as it comes, with its ups and downs, and embrace every moment, even the sad ones.  Through my writing in this blog, God made me realize that living in the present doesn’t mean suppressing all of our past hurts, including mourning and grieving the loss of our loved ones.  It doesn’t mean that we are not to mourn for the things that we lost or didn’t have a chance to do.  But that perhaps we can deal with it a little bit at a time by dedicating some time to those things that have left us without closure.  Then the rest of the time, we can make an attempt to enjoy the present and create new memories.  Otherwise, life will pass you by in an instant, not realizing that you spent all that time reminiscing about what once was and is no more.