On motherhood, love, and hope in the time of Coronavirus

May 10, 2020

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Mother’s Day blessings and best wishes for a beautiful day to all mothers. Whether you are a biological or an adoptive mom, a single mom or a Dad mom, a foster mom, great-grandmother, grandmother, mentor, stepmom, aunt, sister, cousin, niece, teacher, caregiver, or friend, you are beloved and special in someone’s life.

For the new mothers and pregnant women in this time of coronavirus, you are brave, resilient, strong, loved, and admired. Believe. All will be well.

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To my wonderful children, I love and miss you both more than words can express. Every day, your words and actions inspire me to continue to walk through life with humility, integrity, kindness, decency, transparency, patience, and love for mankind.

To my mother, grandmothers, aunts, and my stepmom, my angels, who taught me the meaning of family, love, friendship, compassion, strength, and the importance of humor and fun in good times and especially, in the not-so-good times, thank you.

I’ll love you all forever.

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“To describe my mother would be to write about a hurricane in its perfect power.” —Maya Angelou

“My Mother: She is beautiful, softened at the edges, and tempered with a spine of steel. I want to grow old and be like her. ” —Jodi Picoult

“Mother is the name for God in the lips and hearts of little children.” —William Makepeace Thackeray

“The influence of a mother in the lives of her children is beyond calculation.” —James E. Faust

“The art of mothering is to teach the art of living to children.” —Elaine Heffner

“When your mother asks, ‘Do you want a piece of advice?’ it’s a mere formality. It doesn’t matter if you answer yes or no. You’re going to get it anyway.” —Erma Bombeck

I wish each of you a blessed and wonderful Mother’s Day. May we all hug and kiss our loved ones very soon.

Be well and stay safe, everyone.

Eleanor x

 

ABOUT ELEANOR:

me in ma july 2019

Puerto Rican-born Eleanor Parker Sapia is the author of the multi-award-winning, debut novel, A DECENT WOMAN, set in 1900 Puerto Rico, published by Winter Goose Publishing. Eleanor is featured in the anthology, “Latina Authors and Their Muses. Eleanor currently lives in Berkeley County, West Virginia, where she is in quarantine with her dog and working on her second novel, THE LAMENTS, set in 1927 Puerto Rico. Her children are out in the world doing amazing things, which fills her with enormous pride, love, and comfort.

 

 

On Family Visits, Author Interviews, and New Babies

April 14, 2020

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A few days ago on Instagram, I joked how I would give a roll of toilet paper in exchange for a charcuterie board. I have plenty of food at home, but no cheese or salami left, but I did have a new cutting board. It’s like that during this pandemic–you might have three ingredients for a great recipe, but you lack the most important ingredient, so you keep searching. God love the chefs who teach us how to use substitutes, such as how to turn milk into buttermilk and heavy cream. Thank you, chefs.

On Saturday afternoon, my daughter sent me a text, “Look out the window.” She is always sweet about sending gorgeous floral arrangements for holidays, so I assumed I had an Easter delivery. I looked out the front window and there stood my beautiful daughter and her boyfriend! My jaw literally dropped and my eyes teared up. What a sight for sore eyes.

They’d driven two hours from Northern Virginia to my home in Berkeley County, West Virginia for a much-needed, mask on, six feet away visit in my courtyard garden. And to deliver a grocery bag with cheeses, salami, crackers, and roasted eggplant dip!

That’s love. 💗 We had a wonderful two-hour visit and again, I realize I’m the luckiest solo quarantine mom in the world. We didn’t hug, but love was in the air in my garden.

 

***

After two awesome ZOOM chats with my children, family members, and friends over the weekend, last night I finally figured out how to create a meeting and invite friends. That was a major coup for me as I’m as untech savvy as they come.

My invited guests were my “The Artist Way” participants and a new friend, which puts our group at five. Tonight, we do it “for real”. Fingers crossed it all works out as we tackle Week Three for 40 minutes.

On the writing front:

I’m nearly finished with my written interview with Five Directions Press, which might come out in May. Fellow author Joan Schweighardt sent interesting, thoughtful questions and asked that I include a photograph of one of my paintings, which I am very happy to share. Thank you, Joan.

Last night, I found out that the wonderful, talented editor I’d hoped to work with for my work-in-progress, “The Laments”, gave birth to a baby girl in NYC! My heartfelt congratulations to Marcela, her husband, and their healthy baby girl. What a birth story, wow. Marcela is, of course, on maternity leave and kindly recommended an editor friend. I’ll contact her friend today and hopefully, we’ll get this editing ball moving forward soon. Gracias, Marcela!

A baby. What a beautiful symbol of unbridled joy, pure love, and tremendous hope. I’m hanging onto those good feelings today as I move forward in this new and unknown reality we’re all living through.

I hope you and yours are well.

Be safe, stay healthy.

Eleanor x

 

ABOUT ELEANOR:

Me in March 2020

Puerto Rican-born Eleanor Parker Sapia is the author of the multi-award-winning, debut novel, A DECENT WOMAN, set in 1900 Puerto Rico, published by Winter Goose Publishing. Eleanor is featured in the anthology, Latina Authors and Their Muses. Eleanor currently lives in Berkeley County, West Virginia, where she is working on her second novel, THE LAMENTS, set in 1927 Puerto Rico.

 

 

Thoughts on the virus, wisdom, and our ancestors

April 10, 2020

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I’ve lost track of how many days I’ve been in quarantine at home. Maybe 28 days? Two months, three? Since I write full-time and work from home, it’s difficult to say. Even before West Virginia Governor Justice’s stay-at-home order, my winter outings were few and far between. I love skiing and sitting in front of a roaring fire with a Glüwein or a hot toddy and a good book; however, I’m not a big fan of long winters. Pre-COVID-19 (November or December 2019?) and when driving conditions weren’t treacherous, I traveled to the DC area to visit my daughter in Northern Virginia and my sister in Maryland. In March, I went to the supermarket twice and once to the smoke shop near my house for supplies only because they have a drive-thru. This quarantine has been one long blur.

In late February and all of March, I had a bad case of bronchitis that wouldn’t quit. My GP prescribed two antibiotics over the telephone that didn’t work to heal the cough, not a dry cough, and I still have a bit of a phlegm today. Sorry, TMI. My cousin, a nurse in Ohio, (God love her) said she was ill in December with COVID-like symptoms. She wonders if we already had the damn virus. I hope so. Only I read an article this morning about a recovered patient, who contracted the virus again. Damn. This is indeed a Super Bug. It’s frightening how resilient and virulent this novel coronavirus is, and how no one is immune.

I was saddened to learn the elderly, and members of the Hispanic and black communities are suffering in great numbers. Am I surprised? No. Poverty, lack of health insurance, and low-paying jobs that force many to work outside the home at this time are the culprits, but we always knew this, didn’t we? They don’t have the luxury of staying home. My heart breaks for those in homes across this country who’ve lost their lives to this virus. We’ve lost too many precious, wise, and learned teachers.

This morning, I taped a piece of paper to my front window that reads, “To all those who deliver my mail, packages, my monthly meds, and to those who pick up my garbage twice a week, THANK YOU. Thank you for keeping us going during this scary time. You are all my heroes.” I added hearts, moons, and stars, and a goofy drawing of me and Sophie waving.

I wish you a peaceful, beautiful day. Be well, stay safe, and remain hopeful. Think of this time as a marathon, not a sprint. This too shall end.

Eleanor x

***

April 11, 2020

We’ve always half-joked Daddy would outlive us all. Since 2010, my father has beaten colon cancer, several bouts of skin cancer, and a few years ago, his ear was surgically removed to save his life. He also suffers from advanced Alzheimer’s. My dad lives in a private nursing home in Florida with two other patients, all cared for by a good woman from the island of St. Lucia. This year alone, my dad made it through two bouts of pneumonia that landed him in the hospital for two weeks and two weeks in a rehabilitation center. He was tested for coronavirus and it turned out he had type A pneumonia. He’s been severely dehydrated several times this year (he forgets to drink water and refuses help, which is typical combative behavior in Alzheimer patients) and has been transported to the ER with barely a pulse. He’s still here. This tough, former Command Sergeant Major is hanging on and staying strong, even if he doesn’t recognize anyone but the kind woman who cares for him.

It’s clear to me, my dad inherited tough Polish/Russian genes from his parents. I can only hope and pray I have those strong survivor genes in my DNA from my ancestors, my children, as well. These days, I’m thinking of my loved ones who’ve gone ahead of me, my ancestors, who lived through hurricanes, earthquakes, poverty, the Great Depression, and the Spanish Flu. And who lived through it all to tell the tales.

Be well, stay strong.

Eleanor x

***

April 12, 2020

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Photo by Evija Daukste on Pexels.com

Happy Easter to you and yours.

Be safe and stay strong.

Eleanor x

ABOUT ELEANOR:

Puerto Rican-born Eleanor Parker Sapia is the author of the multi-award-winning, debut novel, A DECENT WOMAN, set in 1900 Puerto Rico, published by Winter Goose Publishing. Eleanor is featured in the anthology, Latina Authors and Their Muses. Eleanor currently lives in Berkeley County, West Virginia, where she is working on her second novel, THE LAMENTS, set in 1927 Puerto Rico.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In Solo Quarantine: Hanging In There

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April 3, 2020

I realize my blog posts are all over the place, but my thoughts and emotions are all over the place. I’m amazed I can write at all. So, good morning. I hope you are well.

This global pandemic is highlighting (and forcing) the need for change in the world. That’s a heavy statement, I know. The list is long: global warming; protecting the environment, our oceans, rivers, animals, and our precious resources, which include protecting the most vulnerable people in our societies. In light of covid-19, however, the most pressing and vital change needs to be our nation’s lack of preparedness for future pandemics and other global catastrophes. The United States failed Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands in 2017 after Hurricane Maria and it is failing now. I could talk your ear off, rant, and complain about why the US is in the pathetic state of preparedness, readiness, we’re in, but I won’t go there on Palm Sunday. I will say that I would feel a whole helluva lot better if New Orleans native General Russell L. Honore and New York Governor Andrew Cuomo were running this country today.

Making changes in society and in the world, often requires personal changes in attitudes and behavior first, attitude adjustments, if you will. Today, however, most of us are having to reach deep to hang onto any semblance of normalcy and balance in our personal lives and in the lives of those whose care we are responsible for like our elderly family members and children still living at home. I’m surviving this pandemic as a single person, which is tough. I chose to live alone ten years ago, but a mandatory stay-at-home order is another beast altogether. There is no one to run to the grocery store for me and should I fall ill, I’m on my own. My neighbors have already agreed to take Sophie (my dog) if anything happens to me. It’s the first thing I thought of when things started to get ugly.

Anyone experiencing this horror alone has my respect. All healthcare workers, doctors, nurses, and anyone on the frontline of keeping this country running have my heart and eternal gratitude.

The most important thing I’m doing is trying new methods of coping with and working through negative thoughts and uncertainty and incorporating new ways to balance my life under tremendous pressure and strain. A few years ago, I would have told you that going organizing a household move with two teenagers from Europe to the United States after a marital separation was the most difficult thing I’d ever faced. That was a cakewalk compared to living through this virus. You know, I bet I could write a comedy skit about the comparisons, but that’s for later…much later. God knows it’s okay to laugh, cry, and laugh some more, though. Humor keeps me sane along with my garden and staying in good touch with my kids, family members, and good friends.

I don’t know about you, but my brain has worked overtime these past weeks, in good ways and in some not-so-good ways. At times, my fight or flight reflex has also worked overtime, which I know can’t be sustained without causing damage to my healthy body and mind. It feels like we’re living in a Ground Hog Day/science fiction film–a never-ending epic of iffy, should we, shouldn’t we? outings to forage for food and supplies; quarantining at home with others or alone; and being mindful to wipe down each item our hands come into contact with, including disinfecting our shoes in a tray of bleach before entering our homes and doing the same for our car keys and credit cards. Nothing seems familiar. For most of us, daily routines have changed, unless you live in the eight states with no stay-at-home order, which is insane…I can’t imagine. The incredible part to me is that each person on this planet is dealing with varying degrees of anxiety and fear, and we’re all doing the best we can with what we have or don’t have. Yet, people still go out and congregate, even in states with stay-at-home orders. It boggles the mind.

A few days ago, my daughter emailed a useful and informative link to the website of Dr. Bessel van der Kolk, which I was grateful to receive and happy to pass along to you. Bessel van der Kolk is a Dutch psychiatrist, author, and educator, who specializes in trauma and stress. He offers webcasts, resources, and tips on how to cope and manage stress in traumatic situations. I highly encourage you to check him out and give him a listen.

https://www.besselvanderkolk.com

His videos did me a world of good. I felt more in control of my life, my body, and my mental health, which I know how to do in theory, but I needed to hear it again. I needed the reminder. I took the good doctor’s advice about moving my body, and after being too sedentary this past winter, I worked in the garden today. I mowed the lawn for the first time this year, aired out the damp gardening shed, and pulled weeds from the vegetable and herb garden and the flower beds. The sun’s warmth on my body felt amazing and my mood improved. I certainly felt more positive than earlier in the week. Weather permitting, I’ll be out in the yard tomorrow.

My most heartfelt prayers are with those who’ve lost precious loved ones to this horrific virus. My heart is with everyone fighting for their lives. Please hang on and fight, we need you.

Be safe. Be strong. Stay home, if not for yourself, then for others who are at high risk.

Eleanor x

***

April 4, 2020

As I sit on my kitchen porch admiring the beauty around me, I realize you’d never guess anything is wrong in the world, nothing seems amiss. It’s a beautiful Spring morning and like every year, the plants, bushes, and trees are doing what they do this time of year–they blossom, thrive, and begin to crowd each other for precious sunlight. The only thing that’s different on my street and in my city is there is very little traffic, no foot traffic, and the constant whine of ambulances often drowns out the birdsong. I’ve learned to focus harder and to practice patience–the birdsong always returns.

Last night, my son and his girlfriend set up a family video chat. We logged in from four US states and from Thailand. It was nice to see their smiling faces as we sipped our drink of choice and checked in for the first, two-family hangout since covid-19 reared its ugly head.

This morning, I joined a conference call with my sister, my stepmom, and the woman who cares for my 89-year-old father in a VA-sponsored home in South Florida. We are understandably worried about my father, who suffers from advanced Alzheimer’s. We, his family, needed to hear him and we wanted to let his caregiver know we are here for them. It’s more important than ever to connect with our friends and loved ones. We are planning on a video call soon.

A funny aside—my dad was enjoying his breakfast when we called, which we were hoping to avoid because he seems able to only focus on one thing at a time. So after telling us he was fine and at his caregiver’s gentle nudging, he told us he loved us, he added, “Bye! Now get the hell outta here!” We cracked up and kept repeating, “Bye, Daddy!”. He laughed with us until the little game got old for him (not for us, we love and miss that surly, comical side of his), he sent us all to hell one last time. We showered my Dad with a chorus of how much we love him and hung up. I immediately cried because although I’ve known it’s possible for me to miss being by my father’s side when he passes because he lives in Florida, it’s now a reality that I may never see him again or hear his voice if he dies before a vaccine is found.

My heart goes out to those who’ve lost loved ones during this time. No one should die alone. Yet, here we are, it’s horrific.

We need the man occupying the White House to order a nationwide stay-at-home order, immediately make nationwide testing happen for all Americans, and we desperately need a vaccine soon. Why the hell Trump isn’t supplying federal help to all state Governors is beyond comprehension, it’s reprehensible. I don’t understand.

I’ll end this blog post with something from Maria Popova’s amazing newsletter called Brain Pickings, which I’ve followed for years. The essay is called Stillness as a Form of Action: Tocqueville on Cataclysm as an Antidote to Cultural Complacency and a Catalyst for Growth.

“Even when nothing is happening, something is happening. This is a difficult fact for the human animal to fathom – especially for us modern sapiens, who so ardently worship at the altar of productivity and so readily mistake busyness for effectiveness, for propulsion toward progress. Silence is a form of speech, Susan Sontag wrote: “and an element in a dialogue.” Stillness is a form of action and an element in advancement, in evolution, in all forward movement.”

Beautiful.

As we head toward what the Surgeon General calls, “…the hardest and the saddest week of most Americans’ lives”, I wish you and yours a safe and healthy Sunday. Please wear your masks and gloves when you venture outside, and if you’re not in desperate need of food or supplies, stay home.

And for the Governors of the eight states who have yet to enact stay-home-orders, you will have blood on your hands. My prayers for the residents of those states.

Eleanor x

ABOUT ELEANOR:

Me in March 2020

Puerto Rican-born Eleanor Parker Sapia is the author of the multi-award-winning, debut novel, A DECENT WOMAN, set in 1900 Puerto Rico, published by Winter Goose Publishing. Eleanor currently lives in Berkeley County, West Virginia, where she is working on her second novel, THE LAMENTS, set in 1927 Puerto Rico. She is the mother of two adult children, who are in the world doing wonderful things.

 

 

 

Looking Back and Looking Ahead to 2020

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Tonight, on the eve before the Full Moon in Gemini, I’m looking back at the trials, tribulations, and lessons learned during 2019. I will be happy to close the door on the past year. Of course, along with the challenges of gall bladder surgery, other medical issues, and remembering why it’s good to be single, my family was blessed with many wonderful events, as well. In June, we celebrated my niece’s wedding; my daughter finished her Master’s degree and became a licensed Mental Health Therapist; and my son created an app that is doing so well that he welcomed a third major airline to his portfolio. Proud Mom moments!

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Hands down, the BEST part of 2019 was the epic, two-week family vacation I enjoyed with my kids in Thailand, where my son and his girlfriend have made their home. Did I mention it was epic? We love everything about Bangkok, Chiang Mai, Chiang Dao, and Koh Lipe, and we especially love the Thai people, the fabulous food, the stunning temples, the gorgeous beaches, the smiling monks, and the exciting night markets. Now that my son and his lovely girlfriend are working in Bangkok, which is very exciting, we will certainly return to Thailand next year. There is nothing like travel to open your eyes and grow your heart, soul, and mind, and that’s exactly what I needed. Thank you, Matthew and Anna Marie, for the life-changing trip!

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During the second half of 2019, my home was paid off, which was a major surprise to me (and an amazing story). Thank you, Sandy. As you can imagine, it was an incredible relief for this full-time writer! I’d sacrificed, penny-pinched, and managed to hang onto this old house and now I have the option to sell if I choose to move to my forever home for my golden years. Smile. West Virginia was a soft place to land after my divorce and I love this old house, I really do, but it’s never felt like my forever home. I don’t enjoy being landlocked, so I’m on the hunt. Where am I looking? Puerto Rico, the south of France, Portugal, and Spain. I’ve started a new vision board and during writing breaks, I look at homes and I dream. I’ve lived half my life overseas, so this is not a stretch for me; it feels very possible. It will happen.

On the writing front, as always, I’m as content as content can be. My second historical novel, The Laments, is progressing nicely and I’m pleased with the story and love my characters. I’ve had a few challenges in getting the story just right because I’m a Virgo nitpicker, but I’m there. In my humble opinion, my writing and editing skills have vastly improved, and I can’t imagine doing anything else. My writing mentor, the writing wizard Jack Remick, has kindly agreed to look at my draft manuscript in the Spring. I’m ecstatic and honored to work with him. Thank you, Jack, you are a true mensch.

It’s hard to believe I began writing The Laments in 2016, but that’s exactly what happened with my first novel, A Decent Woman, I took my time. I’m most definitely a slow, methodical writer and I always finish strong despite life’s hiccups and detours. I’m also working on a collection of poems, which I hope to see published next year, as well. One thing I learned this year is to stay mum about story ideas until the draft manuscript is in the editor’s hands.

Now, back to the Full Moon in Gemini, the last moon of the decade. This auspicious full moon will be visible on December 12 (the 12th month) at 12:12 am EST and will form a rare, triple conjunction with Venus, Saturn, and Pluto. 12:12:12:12. From what I’ve read, this moon opens a portal, which sounds spooky and fascinating. Some say the Gemini moon can be a turning point in our lives and there’s still time to turn it all around for January 2020!

Notes to Self on December 11:

Shed old skin by acknowledging, dealing with, forgiving, making amends, and releasing behaviors and reactions that no longer serve me. Remove toxic people and situations from my life, get rid of limiting beliefs, self-sabotage, and unrealistic expectations, and recognize that irrational fears hold me back from fully living and appreciating life. Be present. Own it. Speak the truth, always, even if it hurts. Quit hiding behind ‘polite’ behavior–some people will take advantage of that.

I will enter 2020 lighter, shinier, more present, wiser, open to new love, creative, courageous, bold, and ready for many new adventures.

And for God/Goddess’ sake, let us take up a whole lot more room in 2020, in everything we say and do, and assist those who are struggling. Protect all children, the elderly, and empower women.

Asi sea. Ache.

Happy holidays to you and your family. I wish you the best in 2020 and happy writing.

Eleanor x

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ABOUT ELEANOR:

Puerto Rican-born Eleanor Parker Sapia is the author of the multi-award-winning novel, A Decent Woman, published by Winter Goose Publishing. Her best-selling debut novel, set in turn of the century Ponce, Puerto Rico, garnered Second Place for Best Latino Focused Fiction Book, English at the 2017 International Latino Book Award with Latino Literacy Now. The book was awarded an Honorable Mention for Best Historical Fiction, English at the 2016 International Latino Book Awards with Latino Literacy Now, and was selected as a Book of the Month by Las Comadres and Friends National Latino Book Club. Eleanor is featured in the anthology, Latina Authors and Their Muses.

BUY THE BOOK:

A Decent Woman Flat (1)

https://www.amazon.com/Decent-Woman-Eleanor-Parker-Sapia/dp/1941058876/ref=sr_1_fkmr0_1?keywords=a+decent+woman+by+eleanor+parker+sepia&qid=1576099888&sr=8-1-fkmr0

 

 

Summer 2019 Update

Happy Summer to you, dear reader!

Me at the wedding June 2019

June was a special month of much joy and long-awaited reunions with my family. In early June, I enjoyed six fun-filled days with my daughter, my son, and his girlfriend in Capon Bridge, WV after their year in Asia. We kayaked and fished on the Great Cacapon River; cooked together and enjoyed Portuguese wines (courtesy of my son and his girlfriend); laughed and hugged, and made new memories. 🧡

Last week, I spent four fun days in Maryland with a cousin and my sister before her daughter tied the knot, and this past weekend, our family members and friends traveled from MA, OH, GA, MD, and VA to share the joy at my niece’s beautiful wedding ceremony and fun-filled reception at Celebrations at the Bay in Pasadena, Maryland with breathtaking views of the Bay at sunset. It was magical. My Polish/Russian and Puerto Rican clans sure can party and party, we did!

Last night, my son and his girlfriend flew back to Asia. Of course, as a mom, I have mixed emotions about that, but they are happy, so I am happy for them. My daughter is thinking about new adventures herself, especially about joining me in visiting my son and his lovely girlfriend in Thailand this fall. We are excited to see them again!

So life goes on, and I do what I always do—take off enough time during the summer months to enjoy life and my loved ones. And to make sure my second book, The Laments, (published next year) is the best novel possible, I will be working with someone special, with whom I’ve wanted to work with for a few years now. More details about that later!

Enjoy your summer and your families, my friends, and keep calling your state representatives—No more family separations at the border! Reunite the families!

Note to self: Learn how to apply lashes before the wedding day 🙂

Be well and be happy.

Eleanor x

Wise Women, Fierce Sisters, Spiritual Healers

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Historically, women have moved in the world of spirits, remedies, healing, and protection for themselves and their loved ones. When their lives became difficult or frightening, and especially when their children’s future seemed threatened, they leaned on each other in prayer, tradition, and rituals. Women were in charge of hearth and home, but had little personal power outside the home in many male-dominated societies, and tragically, the same holds true today for millions of women around the world.

Women’s reliance on and connection to nature’s free pharmacy and the wisdom imparted from mother to daughter throughout the ages were a natural way of life. Many women employed an arsenal of spiritual armor against evil, danger, and the unknowns of the world in the form of prayers, the evil eye, and communion with God, goddesses, the Virgin Mary, and other deities. The spirit world and spirituality were ways in which women dealt with life’s uncertainties.

My maternal grandmother was a wise woman. Meme was a spiritist and a healer, who had a very close connection to the spirit world and to nature. She was an elegant, tender-hearted, fierce defender of her family and loyal to her many friends, who still speak about her with kind words and a smile. She had a quick wit, a ready smile, open arms, and she was a beauty. Meme’s mystical connection to the spirit world began at the tender age of nine when her beloved mother, Amancia died. As a Catholic, Meme was accustomed to the spirit world of the martyred saints and of the Blessed Virgin Mary, who interceded on her behalf to keep her mother’s spirit close by, so it wasn’t a stretch to welcome spirits into her life.

My grandmother and my aunt, who married my mother’s brother, happened to have a lifelong friendship with a medium by the name of Doña Pina, whom I visited until her death. Pina, a kind-hearted, diminutive, dark-haired woman with the most piercing black eyes I’ve ever seen, had inherited her spiritual gifts as a child from her mother, another renowned medium in Ponce, Puerto Rico. I grew up hearing their stories, told in exquisite detail, of the spirit world and of those who inhabit ‘the other plane’, which exists near the world we know; kind of like the family who lives one flight up in your apartment building. Some you liked, others not so much. Some stories scared me witless, others offered comfort. I know now that many of the scary stories were meant to keep me on the straight and narrow path, and to keep me safe, alert, and aware as a child and as a young adult.

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New Age spirituality was nothing new to Meme. She spent her life being watchful, alert, and sweeping the negative energy, spirits, from her home. She even swept a few unwanted female friends away from my grandfather, but that’s another story. Meme knew which plant, flower, and herb to use for certain ailments and was quick to send you on your way with a recipe and a little bag of plant cuttings, so you could grow your own ‘pharmacy’. She could tell you the best method for sweetening up a stale love life, how to read people, and especially, how to get rid of unwanted visitors. And what to do if you found a rotten egg in your front yard, which she said was clearly an hechizo, a curse,  from a jealous neighbor. Meme imparted much of her wisdom to her daughters and to the granddaughters who would listen, as I’ve done with my own daughter, an intuitive from a young age. My son just rolls his eyes when we broach the subject, but he listens to my dreams and stories of synchronicites because they happen in his life, as well.

My girlfriends from Iran, the Philippines, the Dominican Republic, Virginia, West Virginia, Greece, Jamaica, and El Salvador, have shared similar stories with me told to them by their mothers and grandmothers. When I shared my friend’s stories with my grandmother, she just nodded. When I told her about Deepak Chopra, the third eye of intuition, and Eckhart Tolle, she grinned and said, “Ay nena, eso no es nada nuevo”, meaning “My girl, that is nothing new”. She was right, of course.

Meme’s stories fed my already vivid, childhood imagination and pushed forward, full throttle, my love of oral and written storytelling. Although a few tales of spirits frightened me, I couldn’t get enough of Meme’s stories. They are with me when I write my books about humble, yet extraordinary women doing extraordinary things in difficult times.

I’ve been known to cleanse a home with Catholic prayers, sage, and incense. I still say the rosary with a lit candle. Much like my ancestors, I perform these rituals in faith, for they are a personal source of comfort and clarity during times of personal and familial troubles, and global unrest.

Peace to you.

ABOUT ELEANOR PARKER SAPIA

ellie

Award winning novelist, Eleanor Parker Sapia, was born in Puerto Rico and raised in the United States, Puerto Rico, and Europe. Eleanor’s career paths as an artist, counselor, alternative health practitioner, Spanish language family support worker and refugee case worker, continue to inspire her stories.

Eleanor’s debut novel, ‘A Decent Woman, set in turn of the nineteenth century Puerto Rico, is published by Sixth Street River Press. The book is a finalist for Best Historical Fiction, English, in the 2016 International Latino Book Awards with Latino Literacy Now, and was selected as Book of the Month by Las Comadres and Friends National Latino Book Club. Eleanor is featured in the award-winning anthology, ‘Latina Authors and Their Muses’, edited by Mayra Calvani.

When not writing, Eleanor loves facilitating creativity groups, reading, gardening, and tells herself she is making plans to walk El Camino de Santiago de Compostela a second time. She adores her two adult children and currently lives in West Virginia, where she is at work on her second novel, ‘The Laments of Sister Maria Inmaculada’ and thinking about the sequel to ‘A Decent Woman’ titled, ‘Mistress of Coffee’.

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