been married twice, divorced twice, and she had been left broken
hearted by both relationships. She had invested thirteen years in
her first marriage to Charles the father of her four children, two
girls and two boys. And in the end, all those years had been
wasted, just to have him turn his back on them. Leaving Lynn and
their four children standing on the front porch of their home in
Augusta, West Virginia, in
1975, crying after him as he walked away.
years of being alone, Lynn thought she’d try it again; what she
didn’t know was that this, ‘mamma’s country boy,’ didn’t know
anything and couldn’t do anything and didn’t want to learn
anything. if Lynn had taken the blinders from her eyes, she would
have seen the relationship for what it was, not as she had wanted
it to be; but she either didn’t see it, or didn’t want to see it.
It was one of the worst mistakes Lynn had ever made in her life.
jobs he did work where few and only for his own spending money.
Lynn worked hard providing for her children, like rent, electric,
food, transportation And whatever else it took, their father never
helped and country boy had just come along for the ride; why Lynn
had put up with it for seven long years was a question she had no
During those years Lynn tried to improve her education by going to
college. The end came when Lynn found out that he had abused her
children. He had a shotgun in the closet, one night as he lay
sleeping, Lynn took the shotgun down from the shelf, as he lay
sleeping, Lynn was tempted to shatter whatever brain cells he had
across the room; instead she grabbed her children and ran, leaving
him with everything she had worked for; but the safety of her
children was more important than the material possessions she left
taken years for her to rebuild her life, but now that children
were grown, the two girls with families of their own, and Charles
her oldest son was busy making his own way in the world; Shawn her
youngest was the only child still with her. It was 1989 and Lynn
was busy too, trying to make the most out of the sour grapes life
had handed her.
Carol was talking about, ‘love,’ and how Lynn needed to, ‘find
it,’ again; how Lynn needed, ‘a man in her life,’ to make her feel
wanted and needed.
right,” Lynn laughed, “I don’t need a man to make me complete and
“When hell freezes over dear sister,” Lynn said, “When hell
good at that, at making predictions, and it was uncanny how at
times, her sister’s words had a way of ringing true. But not this
time, this was one prophecy that would never come to pass.
If it was
the last thing Lynn needed or wanted, it was a man in her
life. Lynn and
Shawn were doing just fine; she didn’t need or want any man coming
along messing with her head, to stir up her emotions, to fool
around with her heart, then stomp on it and render it into
shreds. And when the relationship was over, leaving Lynn to pick
up the broken and fragmented pieces.
It had been five years
since her divorce from, ‘country boy,’ and angry over the way life
had treated her; Lynn vowed that she would never again be used,
mistreated and betrayed; she vowed never again to give away her
heart only to have it torn into shreds, and allow herself to be
tossed aside like an old shoe that didn’t fit anymore.
brick, Lynn had learned to erect walls around her heart and around
her emotions; and within those years of loneliness Lynn never let
anyone come close enough to touch the walls she had built around
her heart, let alone tear them down.
been working to provide a home for herself and her son, but just
three years into her new life, fate threw her another curve, she
became disabled. It almost killed Lynn when she had to stop
from diabetes,” the doctor had explained, “Neuropathy is nerve
damage, it’s in your feet and legs.” “What happens now?” Lynn
asked, “What can be done to fix the damage?” Doctor Life shook his
head, knowing Lynn did not understand, he tried to explain it to
nothing we can do,” he said, “Your nerve endings are dead, They
are frayed like electric wires, only electric wires can be taped,
nerve endings cannot, I’m sorry but your prognosis for recovery is
zero.” Lynn still didn’t understand. She had one more question
for doctor Life; “Prognosis for recovery is zero, what does this
mean doctor? What are you telling me?”
“Eventually,” he said,” I’d say within the next five years, once
you lose all the feeling in your limbs, you could end up facing
the rest of your life in a wheel chair, I’m sorry.”
stunned, she left the doctor’s office in anger; she wasn’t angry
at the doctor, she was angry at life itself. Looking up the sky,
she wanted to scream and shake her fist, “Thanks,” she yelled,
“Thanks for nothing!” She had was question for God, hadn’t she
been through enough already? Why did she have to suffer this
physical disability and pain too?
asking the power to be, God, why me? But apparently, God had
chosen not to answer, her pleas to take away the pain had also
fallen on deaf ears. Heaven was not listening; and it seemed to
Lynn that life was out to drag her down. The pain was endless,
night after night, day after day, muscle spasms would draw her
legs into tight knots; every time her nerve endings would jump, it
sent searing pain down her legs into her feet. When the pain
became too much for her to deal with, Lynn would double up on the
pain medicine, Amitriplyine and Neurontin Doctor Life had
prescribed. But in the morning Lynn was groggy, unstable and
unable to function. Lynn would drag herself out of bed, make
coffee, yell for Shawn to get up and she’d fall back to sleep.
She was sleeping her life away, and Shawn was on his own, doing
whatever he felt like doing.
If he felt
like attending school, he get up and go, if he didn’t, he’d skip.
Lynn couldn’t let this continue, she had to do something, but Lynn
had become dependant on the pain medicine. Shawn was out raising
hell and getting into trouble. Lynn was growing tired of sleeping
her life away and not being able to take care of her son. Six
months into the disability, Lynn stopped taking the Amitriplyine,
she cut back on the Neurontin. Lynn would force herself out of
bed; she would force her legs to move, she learned to walk out the
muscle spasms. The pain was part of her everyday life. And like
she had done so many times in the past, she would do again; she
would force herself to deal with the pain and move forward.
had been living the past six months wasn’t life, she had been
existing, taking up space, and wasting away. Once Lynn started
taking control again, Shawn was not a happy camper, but that too,
was life, and he would learn to deal with it.
Carol to thank for her new outlook on life. Carol had came to
Lynn, telling her what was happing with Shawn, and the trouble he
was getting into. At first, Lynn became angry with her sister, “Go
off the pain medicine!” she yelled, “You wouldn’t say that if it
were your pain. If you had to live with it everyday.”
“I know, but
if you don’t try, Shawn is getting into so much trouble he is
headed for jail, you have to take control again; and to do that;
you have to be able to function.” she said, “I know the pain must
be terrible, but sis, you have try and deal with it. You’re
letting this disease defeat you, and that’s not my sister. You
always fought everything life has thrown your way, but I see you
giving up. And Susan can’t control him, he needs his mother, not
his sister and not his aunt. And I need you sis, I got another
job in the orchards and I need transportation.”
groggy, but she was awake and able to function. “Thanks sis, you
have always had a way of getting my attention.” When Shawn came
in that day he found his mother awake, he had skipped school
again, and Lynn laid down the rules.
“This is the
way it’s going to be,” she said, “You are going to school, even if
I have to drive you. I realize I haven’t been much of a mother
these last six months. You’ve been skipping school and running the
streets and doing whatever you wanted to do, but no more son, no
more, I am back, and I am taking charge.”
his eyes, “And if I don’t listen?” “Simple, if you don’t want to
listen to me, I’ll put you someplace where you will listen.”
“You’d really do that?” “Try me.” Lynn answered. “Okay,” he said
with an attitude, “but I liked it better when you took your
medicine.” Lynn had to laugh at that, “I guess you do,” she
morning, when Lynn got up she was not groggy, she drove Shawn to
school and then drove her sister to the orchards.
Most of the
guys Carol worked with were Mexican migrants; most were young,
handsome very charming, and half of them did not speak a word of
English. They were also in need of transportation to and from
town; Lynn became the local taxi service.
Most of them
spoke very little English, but there was always someone around who
knew enough English to interpret. Being a taxi service had it
advantages, her gas tank was always full.
It was a
hard lifestyle these guys lived, they would rise up at 4; am, to
be in the field at 5:00 a.m. The workweek was hard, but when
Saturday night rolled around, it was party time.
beginning, Lynn would run three or four of the guys into town for
food and beer and whatever else they needed; someone would always
fill her gas tank, Lynn never had to ask.
drop her sister off in the mornings and return in the evening to
pick her up. One Saturday evening while she was waiting for
Carol, a tall, good-looking Mexican asked her in broken English to
come inside and eat, he opened the door to her car, “por favor,”
(please). He said it so sweetly that to refuse would have been
cooking beans, rice and tortillas, the food smelled good, and Lynn
was hungry. “Esta, (this) burrito, con (with) meat with cheese,
for you.” “Is for you,” he said. Lynn said thank you and took the
food. “thank you in Spanish is, ‘gracias,’ he was trying to teach
her Spanish, ‘gracias,’ Lynn repeated, he smiled and walked away.
Lynn couldn’t help but look, he was an older man and very
Lynn, she fussed, Lynn didn’t want to stop thinking about it, it
had been a long time since Lynn had been with a man, almost five
years, and for some strange reason, this one attracted her
Lynn sat and
ate while Carol danced and drank a few beers, it was offered to
her, but she politely refused, Lynn wasn’t much of a drinker.
Lynn had not sat too long when Carol pulled her to her feet, “Come
on, get up and dance,” she said, pushing Lynn into the waiting
arms of a boy young enough to be her son. Lynn was embarrassed,
but she had no choice but to try and follow his footsteps to the
lively, festive Spanish music blasting from the stereo.
Lynn would try to sit down, someone would ask her to dance. Lynn
had almost forgotten how much fun it was to dance and have a good
time. When her disability had stopped her from working, Lynn had
sank into a deep depression and hidden herself away from the
world. But tonight the music made her feel alive. She had sat
down again when a soft voice whispered in her ear, he spoke in
Spanish, then repeated the words in English.
baile? (do you want to dance.)? Lynn looked up into a dark,
smiling face, and into the darkest eyes she had ever seen. She
checked out the man behind the face. He was tall and slender and
wore a headband wrapped around his forehead, with A, ‘Budweiser,’
logo printed across the front. Strands of gray mixed with black
peeked out from under the headband. But when drew Lynn’s
attention and kept it, were the eyes.
were so dark they looked almost black, they were like the eyes of
a puppy, lost and sad. It was the same older gentleman that had
leaned over her car door, asking her to come inside and had fixed
her the burrito. Lynn smiled, he had cleaned up nicely, she
thought. He lowered his lean frame into a chair beside her,
“maybe you no understand,” he said, in broken English.
understood every word he had spoken, over the last three months,
Lynn had become an expert at translating broken English into
English she could understand. He took her hand and held it,
making her stare into those dark eyes.
‘Javier,’ he said, (my name is Javier), “mi amigo’s call mi,
‘Indio,’ mi amiga’s call mi, papa.” Which translated into English
meant, (his male friends called him, Indio, and the ladies called
him, papi.’ Papi or papa is like a grandfather figure.
As a slow
song filled the room, gently, he pulled Lynn to her feet. “Come,
we dance.” Lynn could not refuse, the eyes held her spellbound.
Lynn moved slowly into his waiting arms.
well together, he led and Lynn had no trouble following his lead.
His strong arms were warm, comforting and inviting, Lynn melted
into arms, and if the music had not stopped, Lynn could have
stayed in his arms forever.
“My name is
Javier Ramirez Hernandez,” he said, holding her body close to his.
he leaned down and kissed her on the lips, “Call me, papi.” His
kiss was sweet, soft and tender, not hungry or demanding. He
wanted nothing from her, just to hold her close and dance. But
from the way he held her body so close to his, left Lynn with the
impression, that he was missing someone special from his life.
close was stirring up feelings in Lynn that had been lying dormant
for over five years. Lynn couldn’t help but wonder who he was
missing, was it a girlfriend, or wife maybe? As if reading her
thoughts, he leaned down and whispered softly in her ear. “Mi
esposa,” he said, “my wife, but many years ago, muchos anos, no
more wife, no more,” he whispered.
perfect English, he said, “ I could dance with you forever, until
the night is no more.” His words were soft, caring and kind, and
when the music stopped, he led her to a chair. Carol and a young
guy in the corner, were getting too friendly. Javier had noticed
drink too much,” he said, he kissed Lynn again, the dark pools of
his eyes seemed to hold her in a hypnotic trance, even if she had
wanted to, Lynn could not have pulled herself away.
Lynn’s jacket and placing it around her shoulders, he said, “I
don’t want no trouble for you and your sister, my friend is too
drunk, maybe it is better you and your sister go now.” He did not
say it to be rude, with just two women in a camp with many men, he
was worried about their safety. Lynn understood, she motioned for
Carol, and he walked them to her car. “Tomorrow,” he said, giving
her another kiss.
turned the car onto the main road, her sister glanced at her; a
sparkle of gleam lit the pools of bright blue eyes. Lynn almost
knew what Carol was going to say, before she said it.
someone else was having a good time too.” She laughed, “And from
the looks of it, he was more than a little bit interested,
sister.” The comment was Carol’s way of fishing for information.
“His name is
Javier Hernandez, he said not to call him Javier, but to call him,
Papi.” Lynn looked at her sister and grinned, “Don’t say it,”
Lynn warned, “Don’t go there.” But Lynn knew her sister and there
was no way that Carol would let the subject drop.
don’t go there,” Carol said, “Do you like him?” “You know the
answer to that,” Lynn said, “And, I’m not talking about it.”
Carol laughed, she had a way of laughing that sometimes almost
drove Lynn crazy. It was like, ‘I told you so,’ a glance, a look,
that let Lynn know, that she, Carol, had been right, or that she
knew something Lynn didn’t know. And sometimes Carol was right;
and that is what would almost drive Lynn crazy.
that Carol had figured it out before Lynn had a chance to think
about it; before Lynn had the chance to run it past her emotions,
before she had time to mull everything over in her mind, Carol had
an answer. It was in the way she would shrug her shoulder or the
sly smile, which spread across her face.
Carol said, as Lynn pulled up in front of her sister’s house.
“I’ll be good,” she said. Lynn laughed, “That will be the day.”
And she pulled away from the curb. As she drove home, Lynn tried
to keep her attention on her driving, on the traffic, trying,
without much success, to keep her mind off of the man behind the
dark black eyes. Lynn had laughed, danced, and had a good time,
and that was the end of it, period.
But the man
behind the dark, black eyes, invaded her sleep and haunted her
dreams; Lynn was running through the woods, people she didn’t know
were chasing her. Suddenly, out of nowhere, appeared a horse, it’s
rider swooped down and lifted her up, and like the ending of a
fairytale, they rode off into the sunset.
herself awake, out of the dream, she laughed, “Better watch out
for that Mexican food old girl,” Lynn smiled. But those dark
black eyes continued to haunt her thoughts.
thought of how easy it would have been to just let go, to melt
into those strong arms wrapped tightly around her waist, and to
stay there forever; safe, secure, happy and loved. But Lynn knew
no matter how much he might haunt her dreams, that it could never
be; she could never have a relationship with this man or any man.
endings were nothing more than fairy tales; fairy tales made for
naïve little girls and Hollywood movies. No matter how much he
haunted her thoughts, they could only be friends; as friends, Lynn
would hang out, dance and party, but there could never be anything
else between them.
But Lynn had
gotten the impression that Javier, was looking for more than
friendship. Lynn could sense it; in the way he had pulled her
close as they had danced; In the way he had held her hand, in the
way he had kissed her, and in the way he had protected her, by
making her leave the camp when his friends had gotten drunk and
rowdy. No, whoever Javier was, he was different from any man Lynn
see him when she dropped Carol off the next morning. When she
went back to pick Carol up in the afternoon, there he was, leaning
his lanky frame against the side of the building, it was as if
he’d been waiting for her.
take me to the store, please?” he asked in perfect English. Lynn
felt a little scared to be alone with him, not scared of the man,
but of her own feelings and emotions. But Lynn could not refuse
him this small favor. “Get in,” she replied.
in silence to the little country store a few miles down the road,
she waited in the car while he went inside. “You need gas?” he
asked before they left the store, Lynn shook her head, “no, but
thank you.” “Cuando, tu querer algo, tu decir me, papi, okay?” He
repeated it in English, “When you want something, tell me, papi,
teaching me Spanish,” Lynn asked, “I will never remember how to
say it.” She laughed, ‘but thank you for trying.” A smile spread
across his dark handsome face, lighting up the dark, black pools
of his eyes. “One day, you understand; me too, it was hard to
understand your English, but I need to work, buy food, clothes,
beer,” he laughed, “ I need learn little bit.”
fear of getting involved, Lynn loved the way he smiled, she loved
the way in which the sunlight seemed to dance in his eyes; no
matter how much she tried to deny it, despite her claims of,
‘needing, or ‘wanting, a man in her life, Lynn wanted papa.
the feelings away, she tried to keep them hidden deep inside, but
the more she pushed him away, the more he would come back, it
seemed like she was fighting an endless battle. Lynn tried to
keep a safe distance between them, but Javier, Papa was determined
to become a part of her life.
afternoon, as they returned from town, Lynn had helped him carry
baskets of clean laundry in his room, and she was standing by her
car getting ready to leave, Javier pulled her into his arms.
“You and me
are friends,” he said, a look of sadness crept into the dark eyes,
“But I have many friends, I want more then friendship. But you
hold back your heart, Why?” Tears filled her eyes, as she looked
up at him, no matter how much it might hurt, she had to tell him.
She could not let him feel love for her, when she could not return
not hurt this man, like she, had been hurt; no, Lynn would not let
him walk down this road to love, when she could not follow. Lynn
could not open her heart, just to be hurt again, she couldn’t take
the chance. Lynn had to be honest with him and tell Javier the
reached over and wiped the tears which filled her eyes. “I can’t
be what you want me to be,” Lynn said through the tears, “I can’t
take the chance of being hurt again.” Lynn cried.
then hurt crept into his eyes. “I, me, Javier Hernandez, will
never hurt you. When I want to give my heart away, it is
forever. And my heart is for you.”
into those beautiful dark eyes and Lynn knew that he was telling
her the truth; he would never hurt her. All she had to do was
melt into his waiting arms, and to speak the words he wanted to
hear; yet as much as she wanted to believe that love had found
her, Lynn could not let go of the pain and hurt of the past, and
she could not speak the words that would break his heart.
down and kissed her, long and hard, he seemed to understand. He
took the headband from his head and dried her eyes. “Time,” he
said, “You need more time. In time you will fall in love with me;
in time,” He predicted, he touched her heart, “Your heart will be
mine.” He placed her hand over his heart, “and my heart will
belong to you, don’t cry me amor, my love, don’t cry.”
It was like flood waters rushing towards her,
threatening to sweep her away. Lynn felt it, sensed it, saw it,
she had thrown up the flood gates, but his love was sweeping over
them and Lynn was helpless to stop it.
The Road Leading Toward
It was an
unseen, yet powerful force that kept bringing them together.
Javier would always find ways for them to be alone together.
Whenever one of his friends wanted to ride into town with them,
papa would speak to him in rapid Spanish, and that would be the
end of that.
night after they had dropped off Carol, Lynn headed back towards
the camp. Javier stopped her. “I don’t want to go back right now,”
he said, a happy, but devilish gleam came into his eyes, “I want
to play pool,” he said, “Will you drive me?” he had almost stopped
speaking to her in Spanish. When they were alone together, he
tried to speak only English.
only one bar in town where the guys could shoot pool and enjoy
their beer, without some, ‘good,’ old boy wanting to start
trouble. Lynn drove Javier to, ‘Dave’s Bar.’
the door for her, “Two friends,” he said laughing, he searched for
a word in English, “how you say, hanging out?” Lynn laughed, “Yes
papa, hanging out is okay.”
started out harmless enough. Javier tried to teach her to play,
but there was an art to holding the cue stick and when Lynn
couldn’t get the hang of it, laughing, she left papa to his game.
lost interest in the pinball games, she went to the bar for soda
and chips, hat’s when the trouble started. Two men stood at the
bar, laughing and pointing, their voices were loud and Lynn
couldn’t help but hear the subject of their conversation.
Betty has found a new mark, they laughed, “Yeah, the Mexican.”
Lynn’s attention was drawn to papa; he was the only Hispanic in
the bar. Papa’s table was littered with a dozen or so, glass,
‘Budweiser bottles,’ they stood like silent soldiers at
attention. Papa was trying to play his game, but a dirty, old
washed up, overweight, dyed blond hag, kept nosing up to the pool
table trying to get his attention, showing every bit of old stuff
she had left to show.
papa wasn’t paying much attention, Lynn watched the scene unfold
from the bar. When papa started paying attention, Lynn became
angry. She started drinking; but Lynn’s choice of liquor was
White Russians, she detested beer. If you are going to drink,
choose the good stuff. The more she watched papa, the more Lynn
staggering on his feet, left the pool table to cuddle up beside
the washed up old hag, the night turned ugly. Lynn had not drank
for years, and the liquor hit her hard. Lynn was drunk and she
was angry, the liquor had soaked into her brain and taken control
of her senses. In a fit of rage, Lynn stumbled over to papa’s
ordered, looking down at the old hag. The old woman looked at
Lynn and laughed.
own man,” she slurred. “Wrong answer you old hag!” Lynn snapped,
“This is my man!” Lynn didn’t give her another chance to
respond. She knocked the chair from underneath her, kicking it
across the floor. By the time the old woman was trying to pick
herself up off the floor, the bartender was ordering Lynn and papa
out of his bar.
to unlock the car, gently; papa took the keys from her hand. “Mi
amor, “ he said laughing and waving his finger in a, ‘no,’
gesture, “you too drunk.” Suddenly, Lynn burst into laughter,
“you’re right papa, I am drunk! Lord papa, how are we going to get
home?” Papa shrugged, “Yo no say mi amor, you no say.” translated,
(I don’t know my love, I don’t know).
Lynn had no
choice but to call her son, Charles was never going to let her
live this night down. He would remind her of it for the rest of
Charles snatched the keys from her hand, “get in mother!” he
growled between clinched teeth. This was not the best time for
Javier to meet her son, but Lynn was too drunk and too much in
love to care.
been angry with her before, life goes on; he’d get over it.
“Charles, meet Javier.” “Javier, my son Charles.” Silence filled
the car, if anger could kill, Lynn would have been dead.
snuggled in papa’s arms, she was too drunk to sleep, but not drunk
enough to pass out. She had a good-looking man in her bed and
Lynn wanted to play.
would have none of that nonsense. Gently, but firmly, he kept
pushing her hand away. “No,” he said, then laugh when Lynn
wouldn’t give up. Lynn didn’t understand why nothing wasn’t
happening; why he wouldn’t let anything happen.
“Mama, “ he
slapped at her hand, “You need respect.” But Lynn didn’t care
about respect, she had a hot-bloodied Mexican in her bed and she
cried out, “I know you want me, I know you love me.” She spoke to
him in Spanish, “Que es tu’s problema papa?” Papa pulled her body
close to his, “Muy bien mi amor! muy bien, Espanol!” he said
laughing, (very good my love, very good Spanish)." What is my
problem? Is no problem my love. “His kisses were driving Lynn
crazy. To be lying here in his arms, feeling his kisses and to
want to touch him, and have her hand pushed away, was too much for
Lynn to bear. All that unfulfilled passion was driving her insane
and making her angry.
me papa. If I can’t have you, I don’t want your kisses. It’s
making me crazy!” Lynn fussed, “To lie in your arms, feel your
kisses, and have you push me away when I want to make love.
Maybe, you don’t want me, maybe you don’t love me. Maybe you are
just playing games papa!” Lynn was in tears, she turned away from
him. But papa being papa wouldn’t let it rest.
He made her
face him. “No mi amor,” he said pointing to the absence of a
wedding ring on her finger. “With no ring, it is not right. I
don’t want one night and nothing more.
take you, you will be my wife.” He struggled for the words in
English. His words almost made her sober. Javier wanted marriage,
and Lynn wanted a roll in the Hay! This was not going to work.
“Me here with you my love tonight is okay, but next week, next
month, Que? What happens then? I’ve had that before,” he said,
“Sex, I want commitment and love. When two people, one man and
one woman have commitment, marriage and a ring, then it’s right,
not before, you understand?”
But the only
thing Lynn understood that night was that her hunger, her passion
for Javier was being denied. The only other thing she understood
was that he wanted commitment and marriage. Could Lynn do that?
Was she ready to make another commitment? Lynn passed out before
she had to answer those questions. She awoke to the smell of
coffee, her head was pounding, it felt like someone had hit her in
the head with a hammer. Who was fixing coffee? Then she
had been drunk last night; Lynn hoped she had not done anything
stupid. Suddenly, she remembered, as her brain cleared, the
events of last night came back to haunt her. She wondered why in
the world had she been drinking in the first place? Lynn had
stopped drinking five years ago, when she had to start taking the
medicine, what in the world possessed her to start that again?
As the fog
in her mind cleared, she remembered. She had been at the bar,
when she saw papa leave his game of pool and start paying
attention to the old hag; The more he paid attention; the angrier
it made her and she started drinking.
There could only
be one reason why, she was jealous. She remembered the rest of
the night too; She had wanted a roll in the hay, but Javier would
not let it happen. He wanted commitment and marriage, not just a
night of passionate sex. What a fine mess you’ve gotten into this
time, old girl, letting yourself fall in love, Lynn thought.
was, her innermost feelings had been revealed. Lynn had tried so
hard to keep those feelings hidden deep inside and deny their
existence; deny it even to herself.
back the covers and slowly made her way into the kitchen. Smiling,
Javier handed her a cup of coffee. Lynn mumbled, ‘thank you,’ and
tried to leave it at that, but a simple thank you, would not do
for papa. Kissing her, he wrapped his arms around her waist.
understand about last night?” he asked. Lynn was embarrassed.
“Sorry,” she said, “I was drunk.” “Me too, did you think about
what I asked?” He repeated what he had asked in Spanish, “Yo
querer tu, para querer, matrimonio, entender?” Lynn shook her
head, “no,” “ You understood last night,” he said laughing, “Por
Que no hoy?” When Lynn chose not to reply, he repeated everything
again in English.
“I said, I
want you, but I want marriage, and I asked why you didn’t
understand today. You understood my Spanish last night? Why not
today?” He had left her no way out; Lynn couldn’t pretend that she
didn’t understand English. Lynn sat the coffee cup down and the
table and sat down next to him.
love you very much,” she said placing her hand in his, “I realized
that this morning, that’s why I started drinking. Seeing you pay
attention to that old hag, last night, it just made me so angry.
This morning I knew the reason behind my anger, I’ve let myself
fall in love with you,” Lynn said, “But as much as I love you, I
don’t know if I can make that commitment and get married. “
Javier caressed her hand.
mi amor, my love, I will wait until you decide when the time is
right. But your son, Carlos, he was very mad, maybe he don’t like
me?” “Charles? He was mad because I was drunk. It’s not you,”
she said. Javier kissed her again. “We will talk later,” he said,
“I need to go to work.”
and picked up her sister, when Carol saw Javier in the front seat,
she grinned, “Good morning,” she said. But Lynn could tell by the
devilish glint in her eyes, that her sister wanted to say much
more than, ‘good morning.’
dropped them off at the camp, Javier leaned inside the window and
kissed her on the cheek. “”I see you tonight,” he said. It was
more of a statement than a question. Lynn couldn’t answer, she
didn’t trust her feelings enough to answer.
As she drove
home, Lynn’s mind was filled with questions; questions she didn’t
have any answers for.
spent so many years building a new life. How could she have let
this man get so close? She should have backed away before he had
the chance to fall in love with her; but should have and didn’t,
were events she could not change.
and sincere and sweet as papa was, and as much as Lynn had fallen
in love with him, could she throw caution to the wind and follow
her heart? Did she dare? Lynn had to be realistic, Javier was a
migrant worker, and he made his living following the crops. When
the season was done and the harvest was over, he’d move on; what
would she do then?
take Shawn and follow him? Or, would she sit out the cold West
Virginia winter and wait for his return? Part of her, wanted to
say the, ‘hell,’ with it; Throwing caution to the wind and follow
him no matter where that road might lead.
was right, maybe, this was love, the third time around; and if she
followed Javier down that road, who knew what the future would
bring? Lynn knew for sure, that Javier loved her; she could see
it in her eyes when he looked at her.
feel it in his touch and when he kissed her, it was that
gentleness in him, that kept drawing her close, like a magnet
whenever he was near. But, what if she was wrong? Would she just
be opening herself up to more of the same hurt and pain she had
felt in the past? Or, would this time, could, this time be
could not deny it any longer; she had let herself get too close.
And she had fallen in love with him. Over the last three months,
Lynn had let down the walls and emotions around her heart; rather,
papa had taken them down.
taken Lynn years to build, with love, trust and understanding,
brick-by-brick, in just a few months, papa had town down the walls
around her heart.
As Lynn went
about her day, she had to laugh about the fight she had with the
old woman and about being kicked out of the bar. Even in her old
drinking days, Lynn had never been kicked out of a bar in her
life! But she knew why she had did it; she felt that her love for
Javier had been threatened and like a wild cat defending her cubs,
Lynn had reacted to that threat, in the only way she knew, to
fight for what she wanted; and she wanted papa. “Damn you Javier!”
Lynn fussed, “Why did you make me fall in love with you?”
Now that she
had the answers to the questions, which had been haunting her
thoughts, Lynn knew it would only be a matter of time before she
would follow him down that road to love.
Lynn knew it would not be for money, papa could not
give her riches. He could not place a diamond ring on her finger;
but if she decided to make this commitment, Lynn would be
accepting all he had to offer; himself and his love. Out of two
failed marriages, the love he was offering was more than enough
The Road, Which
went out that afternoon to pick up her sister from the camp, she
looked for papa, now that Lynn had found him, rather, he had found
her, she wasn’t about to let him go; wherever this road to was
destined to take her, Lynn would follow; and she’d follow with all
her heart. How hard could it be? With papa beside her, there was
nothing that the two of them could not handle together.
wanted a private place to tell him, not here at the camp with
everyone hanging around. When she saw him coming in from the
orchard, it was all Lynn could do to contain her excitement. She
felt like a child on Christmas Day, waiting impatiently to open
her presents. Papa waved, a smile on his face, he walked up to the
her arms around him, “I got something to tell you,” she said, “But
not here, come with me for dinner at my house.” “Ahora?” he asked,
“Now? I am dirty from the trees. Mi amor (my love), is necesito,
una ducha. I need one shower,” he repeated in English “Go ahead,
I will wait.” he leaned down and kissed her. “Poco tiempo, (little
time),” he replied. Lynn watched as he disappeared into the
day,” Carol said, opening the door. She started to sit down in
the front seat. “I am tired. What are we waiting for?” Lynn
glanced at her sister and grinned. She might as well share the
waiting for papa, and I got something to tell you. But don’t you
dare say, ‘I told you so,’ promise?” “Tell me?” Lynn shared the
secret with her sister. “Sunday night when Chuck had to bring us
home because I was too drunk to drive.” “You told me about it,”
Carol said laughing. “That Monday morning when we picked you up,
you thought we had been together, but we hadn’t. Javier wouldn’t
let it, not until he put a ring on my finger!” “Is there any more
out there like that?” Carol laughed, “What are your going to do?
“What do you want to do, sis?” “I’ve been thinking about it all
day, he wants commitment and marriage. I do love him sis, “Lynn
said, “You were right, I think this is love, the third time
around. I’m going to tell him tonight.”
for you sis,” Carol said, “It’s about time things turned around
for you. I’m glad you’re taking the chance.” Carol hugged her,
“You weren’t meant to live alone.”
dinner while papa watched television. She sat the table and
called him. “It’s ready,” Lynn called. Lynn had fixed chicken,
rice, red beans and a salad. Papa ate every bit of it and helped
her clear the table.
As they sat
down to watch a movie, papa took her hand and held it. “Mi amor,
I’m full the food, muy bien, very good. But something is wrong?”
Lynn smiled, “No,” she said, “Everything is right. I’ve been
thinking all day about our talk this morning, if you still want a
commitment and marriage, I’m ready.”
grabbed her and hugged her; laughter lit the dark Spanish eyes.
“Mi amor, mi amor, (my love, my love) yes! Yo mucho feliz, (I am
very happy). Tomorrow, after work, we go shopping for clothes,
okay? Lynn fell into his waiting arms, she was crying.
mamita, no tears.” “It’s okay papa, it’s happy tears, I love you
papa, I love you.” “And I love you mama, I love you.”
day came on May 2, 1989. With her son, Shawn and two of Papa’s
friends by their side, Julie and Jessie, by their side, Javier and
Lynda exchanged wedding vows.
they felt for each other spilled out into the small courtroom in
his vows, holding her hand, papa slipped the gold band on her
finger. “No mamita, not even death will take me from you. I will
be with you forever.” He lifted her hand and kissed her fingers,
repeating the last few words in Spanish. “Para siempre, mi amor,
para siempre, (forever my love, forever).”
added those words to his vows, ‘about death never taking him from
her, a sudden chill swept over Lynn. Foreboding and cold, like
someone had just walked over her grave.
how hard she tried, Lynn could not shake the feeling; his words
seemed like another prophecy yet to be fulfilled. His arms
encircled her waist and whispered softly in her ear.
“Now, it is
right, mi amor, my love. Now it is good.” “You’ve made a good
woman out of me papa,” Lynn laughed, “I love you papa.” Pulling
her into his arms, they shared a long and passionate kiss. “I love
you mi mamita,” papa said, “Forever and forever.”
wedding night was all Lynn had expected it to be and more. Papa
was a gentle lover, very attentive to her needs. “I love you mi
mamita,” he whispered, “You have made my life happy.’ When papa
looked down at her, a smile spread across his dark handsome face.
amor, it is better we wait until this night.” “Yes, papa it is
better we waited until this night.” Laughter lit the dark pools of
“I am an old
man, I am tired but happy.” “Papa, you will never be too old for
me,” Lynn teased. he kissed her gently on the lips. “No, my love,”
he whispered, “I will never be too old to make love to my wife.
Time.” he said, “In my heart, I know that is all you needed. Time
to trust, and time to make you fall in love with me.” He placed
his hand over her heart and placed her hand over his heart.
“Today, our two hearts are one.” Happy and contented, safe and
secure, Lynn fell asleep in his arms.
Lynn that Shawn got along well with papa. It was hard for Shawn
to get along with people. Because of past abuse in his life and
neglect by his father, Shawn pushed people aside, most the time he
stayed in his own little world; emerging from his self exile only
when it pleased him, and very seldom, allowing outsiders to enter
that world, papa was the first stranger Shawn let enter his world.
grew to love Javier. Papa was patient with him, he didn’t try to
rule or become the father figure Shawn never had, instead, papa
became Shawn’s friend and would speak to him in a gentle voice.
afternoon, she had fussed at Shawn over the mess in his room, when
he talked backed to her, papa gave Shawn a disapproving look. “No
Shawn, this is your mother you need to show her respect.” Shawn
hung his head. “Sorry,” he said. “No sorry Shawn, when your mother
tell you to do something, you need to listen.”
papa’s way, gentle, friendly, yet firm. Shawn soaked up the
attention that papa gave him, he never let Shawn feel like he was
being left out. If it was quick trip to the store, papa would
invite Shawn to come along.
happy she had followed Javier down this road to marriage. After
work at night, Lynn would curl up next to him on the sofa and
watch television. Papa liked nothing more then to sit with his arm
draped over her shoulder, he was content to be at home with her.
He got Lynn
hooked on wrestling. “It’s mentir mama,” he’d say laughing, “It’s
a lie. “But you love it don’t you papa?” he would look at her and
grin, laughter dancing in the dark Spanish eyes Lynn loved so
much. “Si, mama, si,” (yes mama, yes).
wasn’t too tired after work on Saturday afternoon, after he’d
clean up, they would spend the rest of the afternoon going from
one-yard sale to the other. Papa loved looking at other people’s
they would luck out and find,’ good stuff,’ as papa called it. One
such afternoon, papa picked up a small stereo. “This is good
mama,” he said, “I want this.” Lynn couldn’t understand why he
wanted it, when he a nice, expensive stereo at home. “No for me,”
he said,” for Shawn.” “That is sweet of you papa, to think of
Shawn.” “Is mi hijo now mama, is my son now.” Sadness filled the
dark pools of his eyes. “Maybe one day mama, we will take a trip
to visit mi hijo’s and mi hija in Oklahoma. “You, me and Shawn and
Carlos too, if he wants to go.” “Papa you never told me you had
children in Oklahoma?” “No children mama, grown up now.” “Papa?
You keeping secrets from me?” Papa smiled. “No mama.” he said.
afternoon late in the month of May, Papa got Shawn out of bed.
“Come on Shawn, he told him, me and you go to work today.” They
were clearing brush in the orchard and papa took Shawn along to
help. “I need to teach him to be a man and to work,” papa said.
Shawn was not a happy camper. He grumbled and fussed at getting up
so early. But papa would have none of it.
need to work,” Shawn fussed, “I get a check.” Papa laughed. “Maybe
one day Shawn, no check. You need to learn to work and be a man.
You are not a little boy any more.” Then papa told him the story
when he was a little boy in Mexico.
Mexico when there is no money, little boys work in the field.
There is no money for school. Maybe I was five or six, I went
into the fields with my mother, and brothers and sisters. I wasn’t
working fast enough, and my mother, she took a little switch and
smacked my legs, “mass rapido mi hijo, no rapido, no dinero.” The
Spanish was lost on Shawn. Papa explained it to him in English.
my son, no fast, no money.” “That was mean,” Shawn said. Papa
shook his head. “No Shawn, my mother teaches me how to work, how
to make money. We didn’t have money for school, she taught me what
she knew, and that was how to work the fields. “You understand?”
Shawn shook his head. “No.” “Anyway, my mother teach me, I taught
my children and now, I teach you.”
two big lunches and drove them out to the orchard. Shawn grumbled
under his breath. Papa heard and understood. He gave Shawn a
playful pat on the back. “Come on Shawn, be happy. Today, you
learn men’s work.”
given him a choice; he paid no attention to the grumbling. He
just let Shawn know what was expected of him. Papa expected him
to be a man and he didn’t take, ‘no,’ for an answer. He went
about the business of teaching Shawn how to grow up.
surprise, after that first day, Shawn like the work, he liked the
money it put in his pocket and he liked working with papa. For the
next two Saturday’s, Lynn would pack his lunch and drive them to
papa,” Lynn said, one afternoon. “What for mama?’ “For taking the
time to teach him.” Papa smiled. “No problem mama,” he said, “ I
like Shawn, he is a good boy.”
want you to show me how to make those great burrito’s, with beef
and cheese.” “No jalapenos?” He laughed. “No papa! No peppers!”
He grabbed her and hugged her tightly.
her to make the burritos and other Spanish foods. He loved beans
and rice with chicken. It was his favorite. Papa would take a
plain tortilla with cheese, (queso) in Spanish. The cheese would
make her gain weight, but Lynn loved it.
to make refried beans, just smash the pinto beans and cook them in
oil. Papa liked his Spanish food, Lynn was happy she had learned
to cook most of his favorite dishes.
after she had made his favorite chicken with rice, papa finished
it off. He laughed, teasing her. “Muy bien! (very good) I can eat
again,” he said laughing. Lynn pretended to be offended. “Papa!”
“I play mi amor, I’m playing.”
happy, content and in love. Carol had been right in her prophecy;
Love had come for the third time around and it had caught Lynn in
its grip. She thanked heaven for papa and prayed that he would be
with her forever.
after their marriage, Lynn had filled out forms for papa to get
his, ‘Green card,’ this would not make him legal, but it would
give him legal status under Immigration laws, allowing him to live
and work in this country.
wouldn’t have to worry about papa being shipped back to Mexico
when Immigration agents raided the orchards and the fields! She
never told papa, but that had been one of her biggest fears, with
him not having legal status, he could be shipped to Mexico before
they had a chance for a life together.
In order to
make him legal, he would need his birth certificate and other
documents from Mexico. Papa had written his family and asked for
them. They arrived on his birthday, June 30, 1989.
never seen papa so excited. He grabbed her, hugging and kissing
her. Papa starting laughing as he read over the documents. “Mama!
I am an old man!” he laughed, “I am 63, not 59! he laughed, “Come
on, una fiesta! One party! Vamonos, tienda! “Go to the store,” he
repeated in English. “Mama, I want cake, soda, ice cream and maybe
a little beer for me.”
as papa blew out all 63 candles on his cake. No wonder Javier had
wanted her to call him, ‘papa,’ he was 63, and Lynn was 44! but
papa had his party, soda for her and Shawn, and beer for him. Papa
put his Spanish tapes on the stereo and they danced and laughed
until late into the night.
they had his documents, it wouldn’t be long until they would make
the trip to Pennsylvania and get the process started. “Mi amor,
(my love) you want to sleep with this old man?” Papa laughed.
“Always papa, “ and Lynn turned to him.
papa changed jobs. Through another crew leader, papa learned there
was a farm in Charles Town offering good money to plant tomatoes.
The drive was longer, but the crew leader would provide
work the fields, planting, until the peaches were ready. Lynn
would get up a little early and fix his lunch, she always coaxed
him to carry a water jug. It was mid July now and hot in the
fields. Lynn wanted him to have plenty of fresh water.
mama,” papa said one morning, “There is water in the field from
been working about three weeks when he started getting sick Lynn
watched him shuffle up the walk, she knew something was wrong.
His face was pale; a yellow tint marred his bronze complexion. She
met him at the door.
matter papa?” “I don’t know mama, I’m sick.” he handed her his
lunch pail, “I need lay down.” “I should have taken my water mama,
we been drinking the water from the pipes, but today the boss said
not to drink the water. The farmer’s wife gave us milk to drink.
She said, it would be okay.” Panic filled Lynn’s mind, the water
papa had been drinking was poisoned with pesticides. She had to
get him into the emergency room.
need to go to the hospital. The water was contaminated, it will
make you very sick.” But papa acted like it was no big deal, and
that scared her. “I will lay down, don’t worry, I will be okay in
the morning.” he kissed her, trying to reassure Lynn. “It’s okay
mama, it’s okay” But Lynn knew it wasn’t okay. Maybe papa didn’t
understand the danger, but Lynn did.
know you’re sick and want to lay down but first you need to be
seen. Maybe you don’t understand the danger, but I do. What kind
of pesticide was it papa, Do you know?” “No honey I don’t know.”
he said. Lynn had to find out what kind of pesticide was used.
She needed to call the farm where he had been working. But when
she tried to explain it to papa, be became angry. It was the first
time he’d been angry with her.
said, “Leave it alone. I’m going to bed!” Tears filled her eyes,
falling down her face. When papa saw her tears, he lowered his
voice and wiped the tears running down her face.
okay don’t cry.”
I am a little angry yes, but not too much. You are an American
woman, I love you, but you don’t understand your Mexican husband.
He tried to smile. “In Mexico, if something happens at the work,
it is not the business of the wife. It is man’s business, we take
care of the problem.”
pesticides can make you more than sick. And I don’t want to lose
you, okay? You are my life papa, and I would die if something
happen to you.” “Mi amor (my love), on our wedding day, remember,
I said, I will be with you forever? I have not changed my mind; I
will be with you forever. Please mama, no more talk okay? I need
you sleep.” Lynn closed the door and left the bedroom. Going into
the living room, Lynn knelt down and prayed, Lynn believed in God,
she didn’t know Him like she should, but she knew he heard prayers
and he was the only one who could help her now.
“God, I know
that you hear prayers, and sometimes you answer them. I don’t know
if I have the right to ask, but Javier is my life. Please, help
him and keep him with me. I don’t know what I’d do if I lost
him.” Tears rolled down her face. God just had to answer her
prayers. Her prayer had been selfish, but after everything she
had been through in her life, Lynn felt she deserved some
happiness for a change. And life with Papa made her happy. And if
it was selfish for her to think that way, then so be it.
in on papa, he was sleeping soundly. Closing the door, she called
her friend June, whose husband, Jose, worked with papa. Maybe
June would know something. If papa was sick and if it was from
the water, Jose might also be sick.
“I just got
in the door,” June replied,” Did your hear, did papa tell you the
water the guys drank had pesticides in it?” “That’s the reason I
called,” Lynn, explained, “Papa is sick too, and I was hoping you
would have some information” “I wish I did,” June said, “It was
some kind of herbicide, but we don’t know the name of it. Lynn, I
got to go, Jose needs me. Just get Javier to the emergency room.
I’ll call later.’
have like nothing more than to get papa into the emergency room.
But he had refused to go, Lynn had wanted to fuss until he
consented, but he was sick and feeling bad like he did, Lynn
didn’t want to argue with him.
finished out the rest of July planting tomatoes. Lynn was glad
when the month of August rolled around, she would be glad when he
could go back to the orchard for the peach season.
the guys had been planting tomatoes, his old boss had hired
another crew to harvest the peaches. Papa moped around the house
for two days, he wasn’t used to not working and it was getting to
him. Lynn tried to tell him it would be okay, that he would find
another job soon.
he said, “No work, no money? “Maybe Carol is working,” Lynn, said,
“ Let’s go visit papa and find out, okay?” Papa threw his hands
up in the air, he was angry, not with her, but because he didn’t
have a job. “Okay mama, vamonos!” Translated means ‘go.’
Papa always had
to be working, he was not used to being off, and it was driving
him crazy. Lynn sensed his restlessness; she hoped that her sister
might know of someplace where they could work.
talked to him about picking peaches for another orchard, but
because of his immigration status, papa didn’t want to sign on
you need to work for the same orchard? There are plenty more
orchards around Martinsburg, couldn’t you try another orchard?”
“Yes maybe, ” he said, “But sometimes other orchards are not good
for illegal workers. It’s best to stay where you know. Don’t worry
mama, maybe you, me and your sister go to the strawberries? You
want to go mama?” “If you want to try papa. I won’t be fast
enough to make any money, but.” Papa leaned over and kissed her.
“Mama, I know because of your disability, it’s okay. I don’t want
you to go to make money. I just want you to be there with me,
okay?” Papa laughed, “I know one place, we go today. We pick up
your sister and go, okay?”
and picked up Carol and papa showed Lynn where the strawberry
field was located. It was still early morning, so it wasn’t too
late or too hot to get into the field.
Carol signed in, they could use more pickers. Lynn had not been
in strawberry patch since 1976. With the disability in her feet
and legs, the standing, bending, and walking was sending searing
pain through her feet and down her legs. No matter how hard she
tried to keep up with papa, she could not. It was physically
(my love), go to the car,” he took the bucket from her hand. “You
are in too much pain.” Papa had been watching her going up and
down the rows. Lynn started to protest, but papa stopped her. “The
work is too hard for you now,” he said, “You try, but you can’t.
Wait for me in the car.” “But papa.” “No, go. I am the man, the
husband, I will make the living.” Papa had spoken, Lynn waited
for them in the car. “Darn these legs! Lynn fussed; she couldn’t
work on them for even two hours. She had tried, but papa was
right. The pain shooting into her feet and muscle spasms knotting
in her legs was unbearable.
For the next
two weeks, Lynn would pack lunches for her and papa; they would
pick up her sister and head out of town for the strawberry fields.
The strawberry patch was too far away for Lynn to drop them off
and come back. She would stay until the work was finished.
On the way
home one afternoon, papa started laughing. “What’s so funny papa?”
“I was thinking, maybe tomorrow, we bring Shawn?” Lynn thought it
was a good idea, but her sister did not.
“No! I won’t
make any money,” she said, “He’ll be picking at me all day. Then
I’ll have to take those berries and throw them at him. No!” Shawn
berries were finished, the three of them went to work for a farmer
Carol knew who needed help picking tomatoes. The first morning
they were to work, papa got up feeling sick and clutching his left
arm. Once again, Lynn wanted him to go to the hospital, and once
again, papa refused.
might be having a heart attack! The way you’re holding your arm.”
”No, I’m okay, a little pain that’s all. Let’s go.” Papa didn’t
want Lynn in the fields, they had a slight disagreement over it.
told her, “No.” He had said no, and thought that would be the end
of it. “No more discussion,” Papa said. “Yes papa, more
discussion. If you can go out there with your chest hurting and
too stubborn to let me take you to the emergency room, I can go in
the field.” Lynn took the five-gallon bucket and headed off to the
tomatoes. If papa was going, she was going. Period. She would
work with him today no matter how much pain she would be in. Lynn
knew he was hurting and she became determine to stay by his side.
If papa needed her, Lynn wanted to be right there.
big tomatoes and it didn’t take Lynn long to fill one bucket then
another, that’s the way it went all morning until it was time to
take their lunch break. Papa was still a little bit upset that she
hadn’t listened, but he loved her and Lynn knew he would get over
it. They sat under a tree and ate their lunch.
angry with me papa?” Lynn asked, smiling, he leaned over and
kissed her. “No my love, no more angry. You got a lot of
buckets.” Lynn laughed. “You were watching me papa?” “Okay, I
don’t want you working too hard,” he said. “They are big tomatoes
papa.” They laughed together. It felt good to be beside him,
working next to him and laughing. This is the way marriage should
be, Lynn thought, working together, playing together, give and
up his bucket and they started to head back into the field, but
they never made it; yelling for her, papa dropped his bucket and
started to claw at his chest; as if doing so, he could make the
pain go away.
farm workers came running, they helped her get him into the car.
His face was pale, “It hurts mama,” he said, tears filled the
black pools of his eyes. Lynn tried to reassure him. “It’s okay
papa, it’s okay.”
Fear rose in
her heart, making it difficult for her to breathe. Lynn said a
silent prayer, ‘God help me get him to the hospital on time.’
Saturday, December 16,
to visit papa today; his spirit has been calling, beckoning Lynn
to his side. “I want my wedding ring, mamita,” (mama), the sweet
sound of his voice gently calls. “And I want my headband, please
come mi amor (my love). I am lonely, mamita (mama), so lonely.”
The sound of
his voice awakened her, without thinking, without remembering,
Lynn reached across the bed to pull him towards her, to snuggle in
his arms. But papa’s side of the bed was cold and bare. Feeling
the vacant space next to her where papa should have been, Lynn
remembered. Tears of sadness filled the pools of her Irish, hazel
eyes, cascading down her cheeks. A choking lump formed in her
throat, beginning anew the aching of her heart.
wide-awake and helpless to stop the tears. The dawn of the new day
had brought with it a remembrance. Reminding her that after seven
short months of life together, that papa’s side of the bed would
forever remain cold and bare; vacant, like her life.
slowly out of bed, she wanted so much to share this moment with
her children, but she could not. They would not understand, “You
were dreaming mom,” is all they would say. But Lynn knew better,
it was not a dream. Papa had called to her, and Lynn would not
keep him waiting. “I’m coming papa,” Lynn called, “I’m coming.”
aside the curtains which framed the small bedroom window
overlooking the front of the lot. Overnight, the world outside
her small two-bedroom mobile home had turned white. The outside
world was engulfed in a blizzard. The wind howled, the small rose
bush papa had planted was shaking with the wind.
Lynn’s fingers traced the outline of snowflakes clinging to the
cold window glass. Being awakened by papa’s spirit calling her
had set a strange mood within her mind. The storm raging on the
outside world, matched the storm raging within her heart, within
her soul. Lynn was glad the storm had struck; she hoped and
prayed that it would last for days, stranding her within the
confines of her home.
If the storm
lasted for days then she would not have bury papa. She would not
have to see him lying there so cold, so still, so alone, and so
dead, in that dark gray casket; she would not have to bury her
life. Lynn wanted to scramble back into bed, grab the covers and
pull them over her head. Instead, she screamed, ‘God! Help me
make it through another day.’ But God wasn’t listening.
If He had
been, papa would still be alive. As long as the storm battered the
outside world, Lynn would not have to face reality. She could
crawl back into bed, pull the covers over her head and forget;
forgetting the nightmare that had engulfed her mind, her body, and
her very soul.
dead! He wasn’t! It was all a nightmare. Someone’s idea of a sick
and horrid joke.
storm was over and the roads were clear of the ice and snow, she
would drop Shawn off at Carol’s and make that long drive to
Hershey Medical Center. Papa would be there in his room, waiting
for her. Not knowing what had delayed her return, his dark eyes
would be filled with questions.
thing Lynn would do would be to hold him and smother his handsome
face with kisses. She would then explain that the storm had kept
her away from him; Being careful not to disturb his tubes and
monitors, she would climb into bed and cuddle up beside him, and
there she would stay until the night nurses chased her from his
bright morning sunshine once again filled his room, Lynn would
awaken papa with a kiss, then she would do what she had done
everyday since he’d been sick. Lynn would help him to the
bathroom. She would bathe him and help him into a fresh, clean
breakfast, while student nurses made his bed, Lynn would wheel
papa into the sunroom; and there the two of them would stay,
snuggled like a couple of love struck teens until mid afternoon
when it would be time for papa’s dialysis treatment. While papa
was in dialysis, Lynn would take care of her needs, take her
medicine and eat.
continued staring into the outside world, the storm changed. The
white sky laden with snow disappeared; in its place were thick
black angry clouds. Sudden blackness engulfed her soul, yanking
her down into the black pit of its violent churning center.
Feeling her body sway, Lynn tried to move away from the window,
but fingers like claws reached out and grabbed her. Stiff and void
of emotion, void of life, Lynn surrendered, collapsing to the
somewhere deep inside the pit where Lynn was trapped, an agonized
scream sounded in her ears. The scream lasted only a few seconds
before giving way to the sound of quiet sobbing. He bedroom door
was flung open, noise replaced the silence. Lynn’s daughter Kelly
and her boyfriend Martin were kneeling down to comfort her. Martin
helped her to stand. Fear and pain filled the dark brown pools of
Kelly’s eyes. “Mom you were screaming, what happened?” Lynn did
not answer. She was shaking and sobbing.
need to eat and you need your medicine for your diabetes.” “Come
on mom,” Martin said, “Let us help you into the kitchen.” Lynn
tried to resist Kelly and Martin’s efforts.
want to eat, she didn’t want her insulin, she didn’t want to
bathe, to dress, brush her teeth, or wash her hair. She never
wanted to do any of these mundane things of everyday life ever
wanted was to escape to her room, the room she had shared with
papa. Lynn wanted to scream and yell, to curse the day and the
night, and to curse those who had taken him away from her. She
wanted to crawl back into bed, pull the blankets over her head and
forget. Forget that while her heart still beat inside her chest,
that papa’s heart would never beat again. She wanted to forget
that his side of the bed would forever remain cold and bare.
obedient child, Lynn let them lead her into the kitchen. The
aroma of fresh perked coffee was tempting; she let Kelly fix her a
cup. The overpowering smell of food, of bacon sizzling in the
frying pan was nauseating. When Martin fixed her a plate, Lynn
waved it away.
need or want food. What Lynn needed, what Lynn wanted, was dead.
And would never again be alive for her to snuggle close, for her
to cuddle in his arms on a cold winter’s night; for her to love
and to cherish.
needed, what Lynn wanted, was laying cold and dead, alone and void
of life in a cold, empty room at Brown’s Funeral Home in
Martinsburg, West Virginia. While papa slept, his restless spirit
calling out to her, Lynn slipped deeper and deeper into a black
pit of depression.
the age of seventeen, Lynn had always been the mother her children
needed, now, the roles were reversed. Lynn was the child, her
children, all four of them, had become her mother.
do, reminding Lynn constantly, that she needed to shower, she
needed to check her glucose levels, reminding her to take her
insulin shots and to eat.
the veil over her mind would grow dim and she could hear their
voices, it was a reminder to Lynn that she was still alive.
content to curl up into the black pit. It was a strange place
where her loving children could not follow. In the strangest of
ways the blackness acted like a friend with encircling arms in a
time of darkness. Comforting, protecting, shielding, keeping
Lynn’s mind from slipping over the edge into insanity.
that her children suspected that she had already crossed over that
threshold, especially her older two, Charles and Kelly. Charles
and Shawn had been by her side when papa has the first heart
attack in August.
he was in Chambersburg Hospital, it was the girls who had been
with her. While in Chambersburg, Lynn would stay with Kelly and
Martin, and then with Susan. When he died on December 11, it was
Kelly and Susan she had held on to.
from one face to the other; they feared for her mental state; none
of them had to express it; it was a look that would pass between
them, unvoiced thoughts that Lynn could almost read.
Lynn’s mind would become almost rational, she thought she could
accept papa’s passing. But as the day neared to say her final
good-by’s Lynn refused to accept this nightmare as reality.
often heard that there was a, ‘thin line,’ between sanity and
insanity; if that was true, Lynn’s mind was trapped somewhere in
waiting for the storm to subside, Lynn sat silently rocking back
and forth in Papa’s favorite chair. Gratefully, she accepted
another cup of coffee from Martin. She sipped the hot liquid,
starring blankly out the window. It didn’t matter that she had
chosen to retreat from the world; life went on without her.
these thoughts made Lynn angry. How dare it! How selfish it was
for the world to continue on as before! As if nothing had
happened; as if Lynn’s very life had not jerked from beneath her.
Lynn’s world had collapsed and the outside world had not even
slowed down enough to notice.
it? Lynn thought, papa had not been a man of the world, he had
been special only to her. Tears flooded Lynn’s eyes, as she
cried, rocking back and forth in papa’s favorite chair, the sounds
of life went on around her.
busy cleaning the kitchen, her four grandchildren, Ramada, and
Manuel, Michelle and Juan, laughed at cartoons on television;
Shawn fussed with her sister’s over who would get their shower
first. Even in her own household life continued on as before, as
if nothing had happened.
from within the numbness, within the blackness, within the
depression, a voice filled with agony and despair, cried its way
to the surface. “Won’t someone please, make the world go away!”
Lynn’s children didn’t know how to react to her
strange behavior. Physically, she was there; emotionally, Lynn had
drifted into a dark place where none of them could reach. She had
drifted into a world where none of them could follow; and the
The Nightmare Continues
had stooped; Charles arrived; helping her with her coat and down
the icy steps to his car, fussing at Shawn. “You could have
cleaned the steps Shawn,” he fussed. Life goes on, Lynn thought.
“It’s time mother,” he said helping her into his car. Within the
fog swirling around her mind, his soft-spoken words reached her
ears. Time? Lynn questioned, time for what? Confused, Lynn starred
blankly into the concerned faces of her children. There was
something she had to do today, but she could not remember what it
filled her mind and body, she tripped on the carpet, her boys
caught her before she fell. They guided Lynn down the long narrow
okay mother?” Charles asked. Lynn starred blankly into his eyes.
Concerned filled the hazel pools of Chuck’s eyes; anguish, doubt
and confusion, clouded the dark blue pools of Shawn’s eyes. And
fear that Lynn was losing touch with reality haunted the faces of
all of her children.
daughters also rushed to stand beside her. With her children
beside her, Lynn walked down the long isle. Lynn stood in front of
papa’s casket, starring down into his handsome face, his spirit
spoke to her. ‘you came mama, you came.’
As if she
had been awakened from a dream, Lynn’s mind became clear; she
smiled down into the casket, speaking to papa in Spanish. ‘yo
estoy aqui mi amor, you estoy aqui.’ I am here my love, I am here.
exception of the casket and chairs, which had been set up for the
viewing, the room was empty and cold. Lynn’s children had gone
together and placed a spray of pink and white carnations at the
foot of papa’s casket. Lynn had wanted a spray of red roses, but
her credit had been rejected.
her children had placed another spray of red carnations at the
other side of the casket. Lynn was angry that credit for red roses
could not have been extended to a grieving widow whose last name
happen to be, ‘Hernandez.’ keep it together her mind warned, Lynn
erased the angry thoughts of injustice and discrimination from her
mind; today was not the time to think on those thoughts.
not fight all of her battles at one time. She would slaughter her
giants, one giant at a time. But today she needed to think about
papa; she needed all her strength to get through this day,
tomorrow and the rest of her life without papa.
sadness welled up in her eyes, “Oh papa,” she cried, I can’t even
buy you flowers.” ‘It is not important mama,’ papa spirit replied,
‘you are here mama, tu estoy mi amor, tu estoy, is what is
important to me mama, you are here my love, you are here.’
of how quickly he had been taken from her and how time had slipped
away from them. Three short months of wedded bliss, followed by
five long months of sickness. When it looked as if papa would
recover and come home, without warning he was gone. Lynn wiped
the tears running down her face.
understand papa,” she cried, “You were getting better. You came
through the operation with flying colors. Your doctors at Hershey
Medical Center were so pleased with your recovery that after four
weeks they released you into Chambersburg Hospital, into the
Rehabilitation program. What happened papa? What happened?”
mama,’ papa’s sweet spirit whispered, ‘yo estoy aqui para siempre,
mi amor, para siempre,’ (no weeping mama, I am here forever my
love, forever). No matter how hard she tried, Lynn couldn’t stop
the tears. “You were doing so good papa,” she cried, “learning to
walk again, to bathe, to dress; You were regaining the strength in
your arms and legs. You were doing so well. What happened papa?
Why did you leave me? Why?”
Mother, snap out of it. This is not healthy. You are talking to
Javier as if he can hear you and talk back to you.” Lynn had not
heard her son Charles, come and stand beside her, until suddenly,
he was there. She had been with papa. Lynn chuckled, If he only
knew that papa’s spirit had been speaking with her. But this would
stay papa and Lynn’s secret. If she dared share this with her
children, the question and the doubt about her sanity would be
thought took root in her mind, Lynn could not shake it. Could this
person lying so still and so cold and so dead, really be papa? Or
was this someone’s idea of a cruel hoax?
the chalky color of the face, it looked like papa. The body was
dressed in papa’s new clothes. The western tie, a Christmas gift
from Shawn, a blue western shirt with snaps down the front, and
dark blue western style jeans, Lynn’s Christmas gift.
wanted had wanted to send the white shirt with the Indian Chief
embroidered on the back. Papa had worn that shirt on their
wedding day and Lynn could not find it. Perhaps it was in papa’s
stuff or it could have gotten lost in Chambersburg.
was too white, he didn’t look natural. The funeral home had used
too much make up. Her papa had not been a, ‘white man,’ but
Mexican-Indian, dark and bronze from too many long hours in the
the headband and wiped at the make up on papa’s face. Charles was
shocked and reached for her hand. “Mother! he cried, “What are you
doing?” “Papa is too white.” And to the embarrassment of her son,
Lynn continued wiping off most of the make up. Charles took her
hand and tried to coax her away from papa’s casket.
know this is a sad time for you,” he spoke softly, “But please try
and keep it together. Maybe we should go home now and come back
later.” Lynn stared into his hazel eyes, fear stared back at her.
afraid I’ve lost my sanity aren’t you” Charles did not reply. His
silence confirmed that Lynn had expressed his unspoken thoughts.
“Maybe you’re right, maybe I have lost touch with reality. But I
can’t leave just yet. Papa needs his headband and he wants his
wedding ring” Charles sighed.
but then, I’m taking you home.” His words were soft, but spoken
like a command Lynn needed to obey.
to look around the room for her other children, as she did, Lynn
noticed that the room was no longer empty. Papa’s friends had come
to pay their respects. Lynn recognized some of the faces but their
names escaped her memory. Most of the sad faces starring in her
direction were of strangers she didn’t know.
kept his home life with her and Shawn separate from work and his
friends. There were only a handful of his very best friends papa
had allowed to come to their home. Lynn remembered talking to
papa about it. Lynn had not understood the reason why, she had
wanted papa to know that it was okay with her if he had wanted his
friends to visit. Papa had shaken his head. “No my love, just a
few.” Papa had his reasons and she never questioned his judgment.
the stares and whispers, Lynn continued with her task. Gently she
lifted papa’s head and tied his headband around it. Reaching into
the casket, lifting his left hand, Lynn slid the gold band back on
is a symbol of my continued love for you papa, like you said in
our vows papa; not even death will ever take you from me; forever
my love, forever.” Lynn whispered softly for only papa’s spirit to
hear her words. Lynn felt a soft touch on her shoulder, turning
she expected to see her sister.
remembered, Carol just had major surgery, when Lynn needed her the
most, she wouldn’t be able to be there. Lynn’s eyes filled with
tears. It was her girlfriend Shirley who stood beside her; Shirley
had just lost her son had put aside her own grief to be here for
her. Lynn fell into her arms sobbing.
am so sorry about your son, I would have been there if I could
have.” “Its okay, you were where you were needed at papa’s side.”
“We didn’t have enough time Shirley,” Lynn sobbed, “We didn’t have
enough time.” “I know, She whispered, “There is never enough time
for any of us Lynn, never enough time for any of us. But papa
knows you’re here.”
Lynn had worked together many years before at Community Action in
Romney, West Virginia. When Lynn became disabled and could no
longer work, Shirley was working for Legal Aid, and helped Lynn
get her disability.
not bear to move away from papa’s casket. If God would allow her,
she would join him in paradise. “Javier was a good man Lynn,”
Shirley said, “He had a lot of friends and loved by them all.
Let’s go and sit down okay? So papa’s friends can say their
Lynn sat and watched the mourners file past papa’s casket. It
touched Lynn’s heart to see these guys touch papa’s casket; make
the sign of the cross, bidding him a final farewell. Tears of
sadness and grief streaked their faces. Most of them had worked
with papa in the orchards and in the tomato field. They too, had
drank the water filled with the pesticide, which had taken papa’s
Martin stopped and looked down at papa. Gently he
touched the casket making the sign of the cross. Lynn had been so
wrapped up in her grief, she had forgotten the special bond of
friendship the two of them had shared. Martin’s shoulders slumped
and he sobbed. “Vaya con Dios, mi amigo,” he sobbed, “Go with God
my friend, go with God.”
had been a nightmare. Lynn had drifted in and out of a fog,
remembering very little of what she had done, or what she may have
said. Her daughters Kelly and Susan had been there too, crying and
holding her hand. They had loved papa too. He had been an easy
person to love. At one point Kelly had broke down in tears.
What was it
her daughter had said? Lynn tried to remember. “I feel so guilty
mom, “ she had said, tears filled the big brown pools of her eyes.
But Why would her daughter feel guilty? It wasn’t her fault papa
had died. Lynn was transported back to that day and she
of December 11, had dawned cold and snowy. Lynn was dressed and
ready to visit papa. She had to wait until visiting hours, Lynn
marked the time by taking Susan Christmas shopping. When that was
done, she had to pick up Kelly the children were sick.
By the time
she got to the hospital papa was down in the emergency room. His
blood pressure had dropped; the doctors were trying to bring it
back up. She ran to his side. Papa was okay, and happy to see her.
explained what had kept her and papa understood. He smiled at
her, “Its okay mama, take my babies home.” “No papa, I need to
stay with you, they can wait a little while.” Papa held her hand.
“Mama, its okay. I will be here when you come back”
them home, she had only been gone a little while, when she
returned, and papa was gone. “If only you had been there with
him,” Kelly cried. “It was our fault,” Susan said, “We kept you
from spending that last day with him.”
that day, Lynn felt the throbbing pain began anew in her heart. It
seemed that no matter what was going on in her world, someone
always needed her. Lynn would not blame her daughters; she blamed
But even in
death papa had kept his promise, he had waited for her return. He
was lying there so peaceful, like he was sleeping. As Lynn turned
his head and kissed him, a smile spread across his lips. Papa had
waited for her and he knew when Lynn had returned to his bedside.
After she had kissed him, she started screaming; Lynn lost it that
day and there was no one with her.
yelled at her, “You’re scaring the other patients,” she said. If
Lynn hadn’t been so full of grief, she would have decked her. “I
just lost my husband, the heck with your other patients. I am
alone here, do you mind? Can I please get a little compassion, if
it’s not too much trouble for you!” And Lynn didn’t care that she
was screaming and yelling.
from a near by Catholic Church came and offered his help. Lynn
wasn’t Catholic, but she was grateful and accepted. She had
wanted to stay with papa, but they would not let her. She had
come to the hospital with him, now; she would have to go home
been beside him all the time, from the first heart attack in
Martinsburg; She had kept a vigil at his beside. While she had
been gone maybe thirty minutes or less, death had sneaked in and
snatched him from her. No, Lynn could not blame her girls. It was
her fault, when papa had needed her the most; she had not been
One of the
last memories she had of the viewing was Shawn crying on her
shoulder. “I loved him mom,” he cried, “I loved him more than
dad. He treated me more like a son than my own father.” The boys
closed her bedroom door, “You need to sleep now mom,” Shawn said,
“You need rest for tomorrow.” “Tomorrow,” Charles said before
letting the door close, “Tomorrow this nightmare will be over
wrong Charles, Lynn thought, as she sank down into her bed. This
nightmare is not over, it is just beginning. Lynn closed her eyes
to sleep, letting her mind travel back into time; to papa’s room
at Hershey Medical Center.
waiting in his room when he returned from dialysis. The nurse
helped him into bed. Papa looked tired, he was close to sleep.
Lynn kissed him softly on the cheek. He opened his eyes. “I’m so
tired mama,” he said, “so tired.” “I know,” she said, “You sleep
papa. I’ll be here when you wake up.”
up in the chair beside his bed. And she thought about what had
brought them here to Hershey, so far away from home. Lynn watched
him as he slept. Papa had grown so tired of the hospitals, from
Martinsburg, to Chambersburg, to pick apples where he had
collapsed in the field.
Chambersburg Hospital, from there to Hershey medical Center. Papa
was 63 years old and he had been fighting so hard. First the heart
attack, then the bacterial infection, the operation, now
dialysis. She didn’t know where he got the strength to keep
fighting. But she knew why; she didn’t think papa was fighting
for himself; he was fighting for her.
strong arms now thin, looking like pin cushions from the endless
round of needles for blood testing. He was growing so tired of the
dialysis treatment leaving him weak and tired.
wanted to eat, Lynn had to coax him, “you need to eat papa,” papa
would shake his head. “Is for dogs mama,” he’d say, “is for
dogs.” But as much as he would complain about the food, when he
did eat, he could never seem to get enough of it.
meal papa didn’t complain about was on Thanksgiving Day; it would
be the only holiday they would share.
“The food it
is good mama,” papa said smiling, “It is good.” Lynn laughed. “No
for the dogs papa,” she teased. “Not today mama,” he said, “Not
today.” He would take small bites at a time; after eating the
turkey and dressing, Lynn got him a plate of ham and sweet yams,
followed by cranberry sauce, pumpkin pie, a thin slice of cake
with chocolate ice cream and coffee to drink.
As papa ate,
Lynn sat on the edge of his bed giving silent thanks to God that
she was here with him. Lynn was making plans for the future, when
papa was well enough to come home.
wait for you to come home papa,” she said, “Then we can go ahead
with our plans. Sell my trailer and move to Oklahoma like you
wanted.” Laying aside his fork, he brought her fingers to his lips
and kissed them. “I love you mama,” he said, tears stung his eyes,
“I think maybe, I don’t get better. “Maybe you need go home
without me.” “Don’t talk like that papa, I won’t let you talk like
that. You are getting better everyday, Papa. Your doctors have
said as much.” Lynn said. A tear rolled down his handsome face,
Lynn kissed it away. “You are my life papa, without you, I would
have no life.” Lynn said.
“You are my
life too, mama,” Lynn held him close to her while he cried. “But I
think my life is for a little time more. I’m tired mama,” he said,
“But I know you need me; I will fight mi amor, (my love), I will
fight to stay here with you.”
down her face. Papa had grown so tired of it all, and Lynn had
grown tired too; tired of sleeping in hospital waiting rooms. It
was taking its toll on her and her health. But she would not tell
papa, she did not want him to worry about her.
able to spend a couple of weeks with her at Hershey. It was good
to have her sister near; and papa had been glad to see her there
too. If it had not been for Carmen, a social worker at Hershey,
Lynn and Carol would not have had a place to sleep, And when their
money ran out, if it had not been for Carmen, they would not have
been able to eat.
must have been an angel sent by God, she found resources in the
community for them; volunteers opened their homes for people with
loved ones at the hospital One such volunteer shared their home
with Lynn and Carol.
of not eating properly and sleeping in the chair next to papa’s
bed, Lynn was able to stretch out on a bed, take daily showers and
remembers one morning as she got up to use the bathroom, it was
early morning, and she opened the bathroom window to look out. In
the backyard she saw a statue of the Virgin Mary with her arms
stretched out. Lynn remarked about the statue to her hostess
during breakfast, asking if it was okay for her to look at the
statue in the backyard.
replied, “We don’t have a statue back there.” Remembering that
now, Lynn knows that seeing the statue must have been God’s way of
showing her that papa’s life was in His hands, not Lynn’s.
end of their stay in Hershey, when Lynn’s money ran out for food,
Carmen was able to provide her with meal tickets from the hospital
cafeteria. When Lynn’s stay at the volunteer’s house was up,
Carmen found lodging for her at the Cancer House in Hershey; when
her car broke down, Carmen found a Catholic Church in Gettysburg,
that could provide the funds to have it repaired. Carmen had been
an angel sent by God in Lynn’s time of need.
afternoon while papa was down in dialysis, unable to stand the
stress any longer, Lynn broke down crying her heart out in
Carmen’s arms. “I don’t know if I can take it anymore,” Lynn
cried, “Day after day, sometimes I think he is getting better,
then sometimes I look at papa and I see how hard he is fighting,
and I know he is in pain and I just want to tell him to let go and
rest. But Carmen I can’t, and that is selfish of me, isn’t it?”
don’t think its selfish. You and Javier have been here a long
time, and both of you are a long way from home, without friends
and family, and his illness, that alone would wear anybody down.
But he is getting better one-day soon, he will be going home. You
have to believe that.”
to believe that Carmen was right; that papa was getting well and
soon they would leave Hershey and be on their way home. While papa
fought the sickness, Lynn stayed faithfully by his side. As if
sleeping in a chair by his bedside, day after day, week after
week, she could control their destiny and keep the hands of death
away from them.
of sunshine streamed into her bedroom window. Lynn didn’t want to
wake up, she didn’t want to bury papa.
of little feet sounded outside of her bedroom door and Manuel her
little grandson came running into her room. Climbing onto her
bed, he handed her a picture, it was of a man and a woman. “It’s
you and papa,” he said, “Don’t cry grandma, when I get bigger I’ll
put papa back in your bed.” Lynn hugged him, this sweet little
boy, he had loved papa too. All the grandchildren had loved him.
told all of them to call him, ‘abuelo,’ (grandfather) in English.
And whenever they would visit, all the grandchildren would run
into his arms. Even after a hard day at work, whenever they would
come to West Virginia to visit, papa was never to tired to get
down and wrestle with them, or kick a ball around out in the yard.
in after Manuel, Come on now, stop bothering your grandmother.”
Her daughter’s eyes were red and puffy, she had been crying.
“Chuck is here mom,” she said. “Kelly? Why are you crying? If
you’re crying over papa, don’t. I know you and Susan feel guilty
because I was with both of you instead of being with papa. But I
don’t want you feeling that way, okay? None of us had anyway of
knowing that it was papa’s last day.” Kelly slipped her arms
around her mother.
“If there was only something I could do,” she said,
“Mom, I’m going to miss him. He was a good person mom.”
Time to let go
home was filled with papa’s friends and Lynn’s. Despite her
operation, her sister Carol was there, along with her two
daughters’, Debbie and Susie. “I can only stay a little while,”
she said, “I still can’t sit, but I had to be here for you. And I
had to tell my friend, Javier, good-by.”
“Oh sis, I
can’t let him go, how can I spend the rest of my life without
him.” Carol hugged her, “He will always be in our hearts, sis. It
won’t be easy, but I will be here when you need me.” “And so will
we aunt Lynn,” the girls said giving her a hug. “Papa’s spirit
will always be with you, sis, you know that,” Carol hugged her,
“I’m going to say good-by to Javier, then I’ve got to go. If you
need me, please call me.”
at the viewing Lynn was upset because papa didn’t have any
flowers. But today, as Lynn looked around the room, there were so
many flowers she could not have counted them all. Tears filled her
you have your flowers,” Lynn cried as she walked around the casket
reading the cards. She read the cards out loud, she wanted papa
to know who had sent them. “Red carnations papa, from Carol and
her family; Red roses papa, from my aunt Bonnie in Arizona; Pink
and white carnations papa, from me and the kids; Yellow roses from
my brother in Montana; more yellow roses from the staff at
Martinsburg Hospital; more red roses papa, from the nurse’s and
doctors at Hershey Hospital; a lot of purple lilac’s from Your
friends papa; pink carnations from your employer at the orchard;
and white roses from Carmen.
Lynn cried, “You were loved by so many, and today, you have your
flowers papa. Papa, I’m never going to have a life without being
part of it.” Lynn caressed the casket. “Papa, I can’t let you go,
Michelle took hold of her hand, crying she laid a single rose on
papa’s casket. “Its okay grandma, grandfather is okay now. he’s
in heaven and he’s not sick anymore.”
Michelle walked around the baskets picking out special
flowers from the different sprays. And Bible scripture speaks,
‘and a little child shall lead them,’ Little Michelle just four
years old, but wise beyond her years, took her grandmother’s hand
and leading her to a seat and cuddle up next to her.
moved past the coffin paying their respects, Lynn’s mind slipped
away from the funeral; to a happier time right before their
together at Hagerstown Mall shopping for clothes for their wedding
day. Papa was trying on dark Navy blue slacks; they looked grate,
hugging his lean frame like a glove.
said, “Thirty dollars is too much money.” papa put the slacks back
on the hanger and handed them to her. “No papa, they look good on
you.” Lynn said, Mama, the clothes for you is okay. “But mucho
dinero para yo, (too much money for me).” papa was fussing about
the price. “Don’t you like the pants papa?” Lynn was disappointed
that he didn’t want them. Papa kissed her and laughter danced in
his dark Spanish eyes. “Si mama,” he laughed, “Yo gustar
pantalones, pero, es mucho dinero. Yes mama, I like The pants but
is too much money.” he repeated in English.
important to Lynn that papa have the slacks. They were a good
brand name, snug around the waist, hugging his lean frame and
showing off the muscles in his legs.
you have nothing but jeans in your wardrobe and most of your pants
are baggy. Please papa, let me buy them for you.” Papa laughed.
“Okay mama, he said, “If it will make you happy, I will buy the
That was so
much like papa; Lynn could have spent a hundred dollars on
herself, but thirty dollars was too much to spend on him;
unselfish, loving and giving, that was her papa.
Jessie were there, beside papa’s children; they were her friends
and papa’s friends too, or should have been; and yet never once
did they speak to her; never once did Julie introduce Lynn to
papa’s children; Lynn felt betrayed, like she had done something
died Julie came to her house only once. And before, when papa was
alive, they had spent many hours at each other’s houses. Julie had
turned her back on their friendship, and Lynn was at a loss to
the hurt from her thoughts; she could not deal with that today.
She watched papa’s three children stare down at their father; Lynn
would have like to have introduced herself; she would have like to
have told them what a good man their father had been; she would
have liked to have told them how happy he had made her; And how he
had loved her, and how much she had loved him.
But as her
friend, Julie should have introduced her; she should have given
Lynn the chance to say all these things. But when his children
looked in her direction, they looked angry. Lynn could understand
their anger, but what she did not understand why it was directed
understood how hard it must be for them, to be away from their
father all these years, to be reunited at his funeral. Thinking on
these thoughts, Lynn felt very special to have been chosen by God
to meet papa, to have fallen in love, to have Married him, and to
have shared the last eight months of his life with him.
was praying, translating English into Spanish, the music played
softly behind him. Lynn sat on the front row, her children sat
beside her. Physically Lynn was there; but Lynn had chosen to
travel back in time; to a happier place, another time, another
day, where she could be with papa.
Sunday, December 10, the night before papa died. Lynn was curled
up on the bed beside papa. His arms were around her; they were
watching a wrestling match. Their laughter rang out, disturbing
the quietness of the room.
laughing over the antics of Brother Love, who was holding an
interview with Macho Man, Randy Savage and his manager, Scary
Sherri. Macho Man is spouting off about his plans for his
opponent, Hulk Hogan; When Hulk appears on the stage all the
devil breaks out on the platform.
laughing so hard his eyes are filled with tears. “It is metira
mama, it is a lie.” Lynn reached over and kissed him. “But you
love it don’t you papa?” ‘Yes mama, I love my wrestling.”
Lynn felt so
good to be here with him. He was alive and on the road to
recovery. Papa had been through so much; many times during these
long five months, it looked liked papa wouldn’t pull through.
waiting for the operation to replace the Aorta Valve in his heart,
papa had a second heart attack. Lynn had gone home to Martinsburg,
to pay bills and check in on Shawn. When she returned three days
later, papa had a second heart attack; a mild stroke, his doctor’s
called it, but it left papa partially paralyzed on his right side.
about the pesticides that were responsible for his sickness. Right
before their marriage in May, papa had left the camp and moved in
with her the last of week in April, during that week he was
trimming trees in Winchester, Va.
come home from work and slumped down in his favorite chair. “Was
your hands papa,” Lynn had called from the kitchen, “Dinner is
ready.” When he didn’t answer, Lynn stepped into the living room.
Papa was asleep. His was face was drawn as if in pain, his dark
skin had a slight yellowish tint. Lynn knew that something was
you okay?” Papa opened his eyes. “Yes mama, I am tired today,” he
said rubbing his eyes. “Today in the orchard, the air stinks with
spray. The trees are soaked with it.” It was clear to Lynn that
papa and the other workers were in the orchard while the trees
were being sprayed.
not to be in the orchard when the trees are spraying.” “I know
mama, some of the guys were sick and we wanted to go home.” “Why
didn’t you papa?” “The boss said, no finish the work, no more job.
We had to finish the work.” “Did you wear a mask or anything
papa?” “No mama, nothing.” Lynn felt the panic rising up in her
have to go to the emergency room. You could very sick from this.”
“No mama, if I go to the hospital, I will have no more work.” “But
papa!” “No, I am the man and a soon to be wife does not talk back
to her soon to be husband.
talking to him about it, trying to convince him that he needed to
be seen. But it was like sex before marriage, papa would have
none of it. But Lynn could not ignore the issue.
Lynn started to protest, but papa would not let her finish what
she was going to say. He was very angry with her. “No mama! I
have to work! There is no time for doctors and hospitals!” Anger
flashed in his dark eyes. It was the first time he had been angry
with her, and Lynn didn’t like it. “Mama, I am the man, and I have
spoken! No more talk of doctors and hospitals!”
filled with tears, she was hurt that papa was angry with her. He
went to bed without kissing her good-night; and fussing in
Spanish, that, ‘American women,’ do not know when to shut up or
how to let a man be a man and make the decisions. In Mexico women
do not talk back to their man.’
called, ‘talking back,’ Lynn called, ‘communication,’ in marriage,
soon to be marriage; papa was the man, he would make all the
decisions, his word was final, no ifs ands, or buts,’ and no
on the sofa, she stayed awake half the night crying. She loved
papa with all her heart, but this was one obstacle they would have
papa had been planting tomatoes in Charles Town, where they drank
water from the same hose used to irrigate the plants; the guys
didn’t know until the end of the day, that the water they had been
drinking was filled with herbicide,
him to go to the hospital then too, but papa refused. As much as
she didn’t want too, Lynn did not force the issue. When the
planting was finished in late July, Lynn, papa and her sister
Carol, went into the strawberry fields; when the crop was
finished, Carol found them work for a farmer that needed help
picking green beans and tomatoes.
picking tomatoes, papa had his first heart attack. Lynn rushed
him to Martinsburg Hospital; this time, he was in too much pain to
argue with her.
“You got him
here just in time, ’Mrs. Hernandez,’ the doctor said. “I wanted
him here this morning when the pain first started,” Lynn
explained, “ But he is very stubborn, doctor.”
Hernandez,” he said looking down at papa,” If you had waited any
longer, you might not be alive now.” Papa grabbed her hand. Lynn
stayed with him until they chased her into the waiting room; she
didn’t want to leave his side.
“He is going
to be okay,” the doctor assured her, “We need room to work on him.
I will call you when it’s okay for you to see him.” “Doctor, he
has been exposed to pesticides in April, while trimming trees; and
in June while planting tomatoes, he drank water being used to
carry pesticides to the plants. I thought you should know.” The
doctor shook his head. “How in the world could this have happened?
Yes, this important information, he could have damage to his heart
from this. After we get him stable I’m going to order extensive
testing on his lungs.”
do not have health insurance.”
“That is not
important. I’m going to admit your husband, and I will do my very
best to save his life. Do you have anyone with you?” “Yes, my
sister.” “Good, I didn’t want you to be alone at this time.” Lynn
waited in the waiting room with Carol by her side; and they
was saved that night, thanks to the doctor’s and nurses at
Martinsburg City Hospital, they didn’t care that papa was a
migrant, and his status in this country was not important, and
they didn’t care that he was uninsured. They treated papa with
the same respect, as any other patient would have received.
lucky that time; he survived his first heart attack. The tests
done on his lungs left no doubt that Javier had been exposed to
pesticides. Papa didn’t want an interpreter. “I speak English and
I understand.” he fussed. But the doctors wanted to make sure
that he understood in his own language, what his medical condition
interpreter, they explained to papa that pesticides had damaged
both lungs. He had developed a condition called, ‘pulmonary
fibrosis,’ and that he could never return to orchard work, ever
again. Tears filled papa’s eyes. “Doctor, yo no tenes ortra
trabajo.” translated in English “I have no other work.”
had warned us, had warned papa about working in the orchard. But
it was the only work that papa knew, the only type of work he had
ever done was the orchard, the field, planting and harvesting the
after being released from the hospital, papa grew restless. He
would sit in his favorite chair, rocking back and forth, staring
out the window at the guys returning from work. Some days, he
would stand on the front steps and waved to them. A far away look
would dance in his dark eyes.
feel his pain, she knew that papa longed to be among the men
returning from work; Lynn knew from experience how it felt not to
be working. She tried as best she could to comfort him.
“I love you
papa,” she said one afternoon as she brought him his medicine. “I
know how badly you want to join them.” “You don’t understand,”
Papa said, tears filling his eyes. “Papa you’re wrong, I do
understand, more than you think. But you know what the doctor
said.” A determination came into his eyes. “I don’t care what the
doctor said, next week I am going back to work.”
deep down in her heart, that if he ever returned to the orchard,
that one day, she would lose him. Lynn pushed those thoughts into
the back of her mind. She could not, she would not think on them
when apple season rolled around, Lynn closed up the trailer,
leaving Shawn with Carol’s daughters, she, papa and Carol, headed
north to Chambersburg, Pennsylvania to harvest the apple crop.
Lynn didn’t try to talk papa out of it. To do so would have
served to cause tension between them.
fiend, papa learned that orchards around Chambersburg were paying
good money for apple pickers; anywhere from $12.00 to $15.00 a
bin. Papa was determined to go, with or without her. “My love, I
know you don’t want me in the orchards. I love you mama, but I’m
going with or without you. I will take the bus and stay in camp
housing.” “No papa, you will not. If you are determined to go, as
your wife, I will honor your decision. I will go with you and be
there if you need me.”
Thus began their journey from Martinsburg to
Chambersburg, from Chambersburg to Hershey Medical Center, and
back to Chambersburg; it was the beginning of the end for Papa and
December 20, 1989
days papa, you will be thousand’s of miles away from me in another
land, your homeland of Mexico. It has been too hard for me to let
you go papa. Knowing I will never again see you smile and watch
the laughter dance in your dark Spanish eyes. Oh papa! How will I
ever live my life without you? It is a question I cannot answer
her eyes, as Lynn read the words she was writing in her journal.
her words to papa were true; she could not live without him, she
did not want to live without him.
been her life and her world; now that life was gone; dead. Soon to
be buried in a far away land, a land she would never visit;
It was way
past midnight and Lynn could not sleep; she sat at her desk
writing. Telling papa all her thoughts and feelings; as her tears
fell, papa’s sweet spirit filled the room, speaking to her in
Spanish. ‘No llorar mama,’ he whispered, ‘no llorar.’ Translated
in English is; no weeping mama, No weeping. “Perdonar mi papa,”
Lynn cried, “Forgive me papa, forgive me. In Spanish, ‘perdonar,’
means, ‘forgive.’ ‘Forgive me papa, I’m not strong like I promised
you I would be. Forgive me papa for letting you down; I can’t do
it papa!” Lynn cried, “I can’t do it!”
long months of sickness, his death was a subject of conversation
Lynn could not and would not think about it.
always left papa feeling drained, weak, tired and sick. One
afternoon when he returned from dialysis; as Lynn sat beside him
holding his hand, papa started to talk about the possibility that
he may not recover. Lynn refused to hear it. “No papa,” she said,
“I don’t want to hear it.” “Esuchar mi, mi amor,’ papa said,
“listen to me my love.” he made her face him and look into his
eyes. “Yo estoy aqui, mama, ‘I am here mama’; pero along dia,’ but
someday’ when yo voy con Dios, ‘when I go with God,’ I need you to
be strong for me. promesa mi amor, ‘promise me, my love,’ “Okay
papa, I promise. I will be strong for you.” Lynn promised.
thing,” papa said holding her hand, “fight the orchards mama for
what the pesticides did to my lungs and to my heart. The fight is
not for me mama, but for my son’s and my daughter and for you
mama. I may not be here to take care of you. It is not revenge
mama, but, ‘justicia,’ justice,’ mama; for all the men whose life
is in the fields.”
What an easy
promise it had been to make, to comfort him and make papa feel
better. But instead of being strong like he had asked her to be;
she was falling apart. Everyday Lynn felt like she slipping more
and more over the edge into a fantasy world; A world that shielded
and protected her fragile emotions from the harsh reality of life.
for justice was the one thing that kept her going. The anger Lynn
felt over papa’s death, the discrimination and injustice provided
Lynn with the courage she needed for the battle, which lay ahead.
She had begun to lay the groundwork; she was in the process of
gathering all of papa’s medical records. When all the records were
in order, she would search for an attorney to handle his case.
cried, she was reminded of what he had said that day in Hershey
when he was very sick and thinking he might not live. “It is no
correct mama,” he said, “When crops are more important than a
man’s life.” “No papa, when any employer puts his crops before the
safety of his workers, it is not right. And I promise you papa, I
will fight to stop it.”
Lynn cried, “You gave so much of yourself to other people and you
asked for nothing in return. It is five days before Christmas,”
Lynn wrote, “The first Christmas you and I would have shared as
husband and wife. Instead of being here on Christmas Day, you will
lying in a cold, shallow grave thousand’s of miles away.”
sorry for being so angry inside. Sometimes I feel like a time
bomb waiting to explode. I know that while you want me to seek
justice, you would also want me to forgive. Yes papa I hear your
sweet spirit whispering, ‘perdonar mama, perdonar,’ Forgive mama,
forgive,’ But papa I am not like you were. My heart has waxed
cold with anger and grief. I cannot forgive papa, I cannot
your service on December 18; Shirley our friend, wrote a beautiful
poem for you. It spoke of you, ‘being in heaven, cradled in God’s
arms,’ and it spoke of you being, ‘free, with no more borders to
cross and no more fields to harvest.’ I could not afford the roses
I wanted for you, but papa, I shouldn’t have worried papa because
you had your flowers.”
what you said to me the day we closed up the trailer and headed
for Chambersburg; taking me in your arms and holding me close, you
said,’ I love you mama, but the orchard is all I know.’ I remember
how you tried to explain it to me papa. It wasn’t that I didn’t
understand your way of life. I understood only too well papa. I
was being selfish; I knew if you went back to work, I would lose
about your heart papa,” I had protested. You took me in your arms
and in Spanish you said, “Media mi amor, (look my love), quando
Dios querer mi, yo vas, no antes; (when God wants me, I go, not
“I was so
scared papa, scared of losing you. But I knew that you would do
what your childhood training had taught you; to be a man and work
and provide for your family. I tried not to think about how you
would lift those heavy apple sacks on your back to fill your bins;
and how you would climb the ladders to top the trees.
“You were so
determined to prove that you were not sick; and my job in the
scheme of things was to stay by your side in case you needed me.
In my heart
papa I prayed that after that first day, you would come to the
car, smile at me and say,’ okay mama, you were right, let’s go
home.” But I should have known papa that you would never give up
the battle and admit defeat.
didn’t, and on the second day after filling two bins, you
collapsed in the orchard. That was the beginning of the end for
you and me papa, the beginning of the end of our life together.
“I am really
sorry papa,” Lynn wrote, “I am sorry that I lost it during your
services. It was just too hard for me to say good-by papa. I
remember glancing around the room with friends and strangers
looking in my direction. Poor Charles papa! He never got the
chance to know you, like the rest of us did.
were filled with tears and voice shook while he was trying to
control his emotions. “I know you can’t help yourself mother,” he
said,” But please don’t go off into never-never land. Will you
please try and keep it together.” “I am so sorry Charles that you
didn’t get the chance to really know papa, you would have liked
him.” “Mother, I did like Javier, because he was good to you.”
“I’m sorry Charles, but what did you ask me?” “Do you want to say
your final good-bys to Javier.”
everyone paid their respects?” “yes, we’ve been waiting for you.”
Holding her arm, Charles walked his mother up to the casket, “Why
were you waiting for me son?” “Mother, you sat through the entire
service starring into space. You gave us a real scare. We thought
you had lost it.” “I’m sorry I scared you, I was with papa, its
time for me to say good-bye.’
As I walked
toward your casket papa, I felt a hand drop on my shoulder, I knew
it was you papa; it was your way of showing me your spirit was
still with me.
into your face papa I kissed you on the forehead, holding your
hands in mine, I took two red roses from the basket and laid them
across your chest. Do you remember what I said papa? I spoke in
Spanish. ‘Para tu mi amor, Para tu.’ (For you my love, for you).
your hair and smoothed it back and began talking to you. “It’s
over now papa, you wanted to go home so badly. ‘I want to go home
mama, to mi casa, to my house.’ Your going home now papa, the
sickness is over; be free now papa, free of the pain and free of
death; its okay to go home papa.’
there talking to you like that papa, giving you permission to go
home, I felt like my heart was being jerked from my body; as if
some unknown force had reached inside my chest and pulled out my
heart. I came to my breaking point papa, I lost it; I felt it
slipping away from me but I was powerless to prevent it.
there for a long time, I began screaming and yelling in Spanish,
words that were strange and foreign to my mind. Your friend
Carlos was there. ‘You’ve got to let him go Lynn. Indo would want
that, its time to let him rest.” “I knew you were losing it,”
Carlos said, “When you started screaming and yelling at Javier in
Spanish.” “What did I say Carlos? I don’t even know what I said.”
“You told him to get up and come home with you; that it wasn’t
right for him to die and leave you alone in this cruel world.”
said that before Carlos could lead me away from your casket, that
I tried to pick you up; Shawn said, I tried to climb in there with
you. All I know papa is that you are gone from my life and my
world. Buried in a strange land, ‘Durango Mexico, that I will
“I wanted to
buy you here in Martinsburg. But after the service your children
asked for your body. That was the only time they talked to me
papa, was when they wanted to take your body back to Mexico.
“At first, I
wasn’t going to allow it, I wanted to be selfish, forgive me papa.
They said, your mother who was ninety years old, was waiting to
bury her son. It was then I knew that no matter how much pain that
decision would cause me, that I had to let you go, it was the
right thing to do. I could not deny a grieving mother her son’s
had refused to talk to you about your possible death, I didn’t
know where you wanted to be buried. Yet knowing the kind of man
you were, in my heart, I knew you would want me to do what was
“I love you papa,” Lynn wrote, “I’m going to miss you
forever. Para siempre, mi amor, (forever my love).
December 23, 1989
“I am coming
papa, I am coming. I can no longer bear this pain over losing you.
I will not keep waking up every morning without you; if I can’t
have you in life, I will be with you in death, and soon papa,
keep telling me, ‘time, time will heal my broken heart. But will
time also heal my broken spirit? Will time bring you back to me?
I think not. We had so little time papa! It is so darn unfair! I
won’t let it end this way papa, I won’t! Time will not heal my
broken heart. The only thing, ‘time,’ has done is to keep
bringing back memories of a love we once shared, that I will never
have the chance to share with you again.
nothing but a constant memory of what once was and what will never
have the chance to be again; ‘time,’ is nothing but a constant,
painful reminder that you are gone from my world and will never
again be a part of it.
has become my father! Insisting I spend Christmas with the girls
in Chambersburg. Being that he has now become my father, he has
ordered me and Shawn to go! Ordered me, papa! And Carol thinks
that this decision has also become her business! ‘It will be good
for you sis. You need to get away.”
Papa, I’m so
tired of everyone thinking they know what is good for me! I am
never alone, my children are afraid, ‘I will do something.’ I
just want them all to go away papa!
have a life back in Chambersburg, they need to return to it!
Charles has a life in Maryland, he needs to return to it! Even
Carol thinks that my life is now her life! I love them all papa,
but they need to stop hovering over me like a mother hen! I feel
like I am being smothered!
“Papa, I am
so torn between loving you and missing you and wanting to be with
you, that I cannot decide what is best for Lynn. “Sometimes the
depression and sadness over losing you is so overwhelming that I
feel like exploding. Papa, you know how much I love all of them,
but if I choose to join you, do you think they will ever forgive
they hate me forever, like they hate their father.” “Thanks to my
diabetes, I have all the means. Too much insulin; too many pain
pills; Papa, it does not matter; I want so badly to wake up in
heaven by your side; to feel your soft kisses on my lips; to
snuggle warm and safe in your arms.
“I know in
my heart papa that I cannot desert them like their father did in
1984; My heart see this papa, but sometimes within this depression
I feel my mind slipping over the edge; sometimes, like today, when
the pain becomes to unbearable, I just want it all to end, even if
I have to end it by my own hand.
“I thought I
knew how to play this game papa, this game called, ‘life.’ But
just when you finally reach the level of understanding, someone
changes the rules.”
Thursday, February 22,
SO MANY CHANGES
“Today is my
mother’s birthday, I sent her a card yesterday. Knowing how much
you loved your mother and how much respect you had for her, I have
decided to have more respect for my mother. I only wish that
mother and I could have had that same bond of friendship my
daughter’s and I share, but at last papa, even though I love and
respect her because she is my mother; some things are not meant to
be are they papa?
talked to many lawyers, they have all rehearsed the same line,’
sorry, but we don’t handle these cases.’ Angry, I slam down the
phone and wonder, ‘who in the dickens does handle them? There
seems to be nowhere to turn for answers. It leaves me to wonder
if everything is just one giant conspiracy. I will keep pressing
forward papa, refusing to shut up and refusing to give up the
to link your death, directly or indirectly with the pesticides and
the bacterial infection which ate up the Aorta Valve of your heart
is just beginning. One hurdle is no sooner behind me, when life
throws another hurdle down at my feet. Yet, Papa, I continue one
more day, one more month.
bounce up and down like a stupid sea-saw, with more downs then
ups; the choice is not mine to make, something more powerful seems
to command my actions. Sometimes, I feel that if the world was
flat papa, I would find the edge and jump off. The many tears I
pour into this manuscript seem useless, in the end papa, who is
going to care?
over the injustice and discrimination and over the world’s
indifference of it all, serves to release this burning pain eating
away at my heart and spreading like a cancer sore.
to drink, riding myself of the existence of the world burns in my
mind. But turning into a sot would not reverse the hands of time.
Your side of the bed will forever remain like my life, bare, cold
In my, ‘good
days,’ I cry out to God, begging, pleading, for Him to release
this bitterness and anger from my soul and make me whole again. I
don’t know if that will ever happen papa.
been a rough day and the day is not over. I take a break from the
typewriter and walk around our small trailer; sitting in your
favorite chair, I stare out into space and the walls close in
around me. I can’t bear the thought of losing this place. It was
the last space we shared together; each room has its own memories
of you and of our short life together as husband and wife.
March 1, 1990
where we consummated our marriage and finally shared the love we
felt for each other; the small bath where we took our showers; the
kitchen, where you taught me to make your favorite Spanish dishes;
the living room where we spent so many happy nights cuddled
together watching movies; and where we celebrated your 63rd
birthday, laughing and dancing until late into the night. The
memories are burned into my mind.
empty walls jump out at me, cleaned of every last scrap of memory
that was our life. Small rooms, once filled with laughter and
everyday sounds of life, are now silent.
sweeper over the carpet keeps my hands busy and my mind
preoccupied with many needed chores. Making it difficult for my
mind to dwell in the past; leaving the anger my heart feels over
the injustice of it all, buried deep in my soul.
“As I clean
and scrub our small trailer for its new owners, my boy’s are on
their way to our new apartment, with our life loaded and boxed up
in a rental truck. Bringing about so many changes; so many
unwanted changes papa.
sheriff delivered the eviction notice, pushing aside tears
blurring my vision, I drove to Mr. Cook’s home. Anger and
resentment burned in my heart; angrily, I slapped the notice down
on his table.
promised me time to get caught up on my lot rent after the death
of my husband! Why have you changed your mind?” He starred at me
with contempt from under hoods of cat like hazel eyes. A smug grin
played on his old, thin lips.
being realistic,” he sneered, “Sooner or later, you will take
another husband. Probably another Mexican, I think its best you
move before that happens.”
my Mexican husband, as you have called him, his name was,
‘Javier,’ and he never bothered anyone in this park, or caused any
trouble in this park and he is dead! When you speak of him, you
can call him by his name, “Javier Hernandez.”
said he ever caused any trouble in this park.” “You know what, you
are a racist, and that is discrimination! Discrimination is
against the law!” “Sue me,” he said, “Like it or not, those are my
feelings. You have thirty days.”
quickly papa before I lost my temper and slapped the bigotry from
his old wrinkled face. Tears stung my eyes as I slammed his door
and I be darned if I would let him see my tears. I wasn’t about
to pled and beg with the likes of him.
onto the sofa and the tears gave way to rage. I thank God that
Chuck was there, If he hadn’t been papa, I would have probably
went into a rage and tore the place apart.
fight anymore Charles, “ I cried, shaking and sobbing. “Papa’s
death has taken the fight out of me. I’m too drained and too
exhausted to keep fighting the discrimination and bigotry in this
town and within the hearts and minds of people like Mr. Cook.”
mother, Charles said, “Sell the trailer and I will find us a place
in town. Don’t give in to the frustration and anger.” Lynn cried
in her son’s arms, much like he had cried in her arms when he was
a little boy.
“This is all
I have left Charles. It’s the last space I shared with Javier. I
can’t bear to part with it.” “Mother, you have no choice and maybe
it’s for the best.”
of the trailer papa was like losing you all over again. Closing
the door behind me was like turning the pages of a book; and
closing out the best chapter of my life.
love and our life, boxed up and shoved into the past, I have no
choice now but to try, if I can, to build a new future for
myself. I don’t want that papa, if you can’t be a part of it. I
don’t want to let go of the life we had together. If I let go of
the past papa, I will have nothing left of you but memories.
As I sit
here typing out my feelings to you papa, the door to my, ‘future,’
stands ajar; waiting for me to turn the knob and walk through.
But I lack the courage papa. What kind of future will it be
without you being a part of it? It will be no future at all; This
new future will only be deception and mockery of a life that once
was but is no more.
April 11, 1990
the fourth month of your death. As I sit here writing to you, I’m
feeling guilty and ashamed. Please don’t hate me papa, I hate
myself enough for the both of us.
If I just
hadn’t let my girlfriends talk me into going to that dance.
Everything would still be the same. But it isn’t the same. I am
not the same. While it is easy to lay blame on my girlfriends, I
am a grown woman responsible for my own behavior.
How easy it
would have been to have just said, ‘no.’ My mind screamed, ‘no
Lynn, no.’ The mind was betrayed by a body gone too long without
love and betrayed by the wine.
on my lips, powerful arms holding me close, the physical contact
as we danced to all the slow songs. For a little while papa, it
was like being with you again. The mind and the spirit are
willing, but the flesh is weak papa; denying too long the passion
which burned within. Denying too long the burning hunger since the
last time you and I had made love; September 1989.
silently streaming down my face, I laid awake in his arms; I had
tarnished the memories of our love with a one-night stand. But
for that one lonely night papa, he was you.
As I sit
here typing, my fingers fly over the keyboard, guilt and shame
burn like a hot fire in my heart and in my soul. I have no right
to ask for your forgiveness papa, no right at all.
time you and I were together I never looked at another man. My
commitment to you and to our marriage vows was true and I kept it
papa. Your sweet love was more than enough to keep me satisfied.
But you are
gone from my life papa and I have been with another. My mind and
my soul refuse to let go of the guilt and the shame of that one
night. I feel like I am having a sordid affair while you lay in
your hospital room at Hershey waiting patiently for my return.
It is no
longer a one-night stand. I have been seeing him sometimes on
weekends. The relationship is not what I want or what I need. And
most of the time it is one-sided. I tell him, ‘no more,’ but he
does not understand my Spanish. I have broken it off a dozen
times, but he keeps coming back. I need someone to interpret.
He brings my
fingers to his lips, kissing them the way you once did. He speaks
words of love, but his actions say the opposite. For one more
night I play the fool. Fooling myself into thinking that he, is
It is not
the physical act that I crave papa, it is the touching and the
holding; Of being wanted and being needed and the attention he is
willing to give. My heart does not want the love, but like an
addict, my body craves the physical.
papa! Why can’t he be you. But he is just the opposite of
everything you were. And I am tired of playing the fool.
makes me feel alive again. But once the dance is over, we have
nothing else in common; there is no emotional connection. I know I
am not searching for love. It’s the attention that attracts me.
Out of pain and loneliness I grab for what ever attention comes my
I have broke
it off for good this time papa, the price is too high. I have
finally understood that you papa, were one of a kind. When God
created you, He threw away the mold.
weekends I will still dance and party, trying one more time to
conceal the aching in my heart, trying one more time to mask the
loneliness that has become my life.
This time I
leave the guys where I find them, at the dance. I have paid too
high of a price for attention and for my self worth and I won’t
pay it again. There is no room in my heart for another.
May 2, 1990
Happy Anniversary papa!
I wish you
were here with me to celebrate this day with me papa. But life can
be cruel, it has been cruel to us. Instead of making passionate
love entwined in each other’s arms and toasting our marriage, you
are a million miles beyond my reach in a cold and dark, lonely
grave forgotten by the world; forgotten by everyone except those
of us who love you still.
Sadly I am still here, my heart still mourning its loss. I am
Alive papa, but feeling no pain. Mixing one more White Russian,
pouring the next drink into my empty glass. Knowing that mixing
booze with medicine could cause a diabetic coma, smart enough to
know, but caring less about my fate.
favorite Spanish songs blast away on your stereo, belting out the
sadness that fills my heart on this day. The loneliness of this
empty apartment is slowly driving me insane.
picture down from the wall and placing it against my chest, over
my heart and dancing by myself. Wishing to become drunk enough to
numb the pain. But the combination of booze coupled with sadness
serves only to intensify the pain. Making it more acute and the
tears keep flowing.
papa! When will it ever end? ‘you’ve got to live mama,’ you said,
be sad, live for me mama.’ Tell me papa, how do I accomplish
that? Get back into life? Learn to love again?
That is not
the answer papa, since you have been gone, I have been there and
done that. Getting back into life served only to bring another
into our marriage bed. Making me feel like a cheap tramp. Getting
back into life served only to tarnish the memories of your love.
Getting back into life served only as a betrayal for a body with
too much pent up passion; a body gone too long without love.
That is what
you and I had papa, not just lust to satisfy the physical needs of
the body, but love. Tenderness, caring, concern, meeting the
needs of your mate before your own; that is what we had papa,
into life served only to drive my mind insane, thinking it could
replace a dead husband.
I will just
dance by myself and mix my drinks, praying that by mixing too
many, there will be no more tomorrows to face. Don’t you see
papa? This is my only way out. This is the only road I can follow
leading me back to you.
May 24, 1990
been flowing from my brain again papa. In trying to tell the story
of our short life together and of how pesticides took your life,
energy flows through my fingers as if they have a will all of
their own. Its like some unseen force takes over and my fingers
fly across the keyboard.
tirelessly on this manuscript serves as salvation for my sanity.
Sometimes I rise before the dawn and stay at my desk until after
the sun has gone done. Many days I sit at the keyboard until the
muscles of my legs knot up so badly that the pain forces me to
give up for the day.
of justice are grinding slowly papa, but at least they are
grinding. I have become involved with, “Migrant Legal Action
Program,” which is taking up the cause for legal action for
migrant workers. I have written two more complaints to The
Department of Labor. In my complaint I describe how the rules of
OSHA, does not apply to migrant workers. I explained that the
rules do not apply because most migrants do not have legal status
in this country. And because of this, the rules are often ignored.
explained that if the rules of OSHA had been followed in
Winchester VA, that you would not have been allowed in the orchard
until 24 hours after the trees had been sprayed; and you would not
have been forced to remain under threat of losing your job. Papa,
you should not have been in that orchard while the trees were
complaint I explain that if the rules of OSHA had been followed
while you were sitting on the back of the tractor spraying the
trees you would have been protected by protective clothing and a
mask to keep the spray from entering your lungs.
Also in the
complaint I describe how there was no fresh water in the field
that day while you were planting tomatoes; and there was no sign
in Spanish warning not to drink the water that it was contaminated
I have also
filed complaints of discrimination, stating that because you were
Hispanic, the rules were ignored.
written three editorials in The Martinsburg Journal. In the
article I talked about the discrimination against the workers and
how your employers did not care enough to provide a safe working
I had a
response from your last employer. He spoke of how much he had
helped his workers and he felt he was being singled out and not
being given the credit he deserved. But he never raised the issue
of discrimination nor did he speak about the unsafe working
conditions and the pesticide issue.
become determined that my letters and complaints will not be
ignored. I refuse to let anyone sweep this issue under the rug and
cover it up. If there is no response to my complaints within the
next couple of weeks, I will keep writing until someone decides to
listen. I will not shut up and be ignored.
written to several magazines that deal with environmental issues.
Yesterday I received a copy of, ‘Buzz Worm,’ enclosed with the
magazine was a note from the editor expressing sympathy over your
in the magazine described a fight raging in California between the
migrants and the growers over the death of workers and small
children by the over use of pesticides. The article explained how
many workers have died because of pesticides being used on the
trees, on the grapes and the vegetables.
was spraying the field and he, even though he was covered with
protective clothing and a mask, the pesticides got into his lungs;
he had a heart attack and died. They say he was drinking a soda
and that was how the pesticides got into his lungs.
described how babies are being born premature and deformed and how
little children are dying of cancer, while pesticides continue to
be dumped in the drinking water; and how their backyard
playgrounds have been turned into dumps for toxic waste.
It’s a sad
world I ‘m living in papa, when nobody seems to care about the
life of another; where too often money and political power take
precedence over human life.
In my view
papa the reason is that some politicians shrug it off with an,
‘why should I care,’ attitude. The reason being that the people
being affected are not your, ‘average American voter.’ Many are
illegal and having no legal standing in this country. I have
learned that many of the illegal workers are hired by The
Department of Agriculture to work the fields and orchards, when
the season is finished they are shipped back across the border
until the next contract is signed.
the people being affected are, “Mexican Americans,’ with little or
no education and like you papa, they work the fields and are
treated like second class citizens; and the growers with their
money and political power are able to cover up the issues. While
the world turns a blind eye, the little children keep dying.
pesticide issue is not affecting, ‘main stream,’ society at this
point in time, I have a feeling papa, that someday all of that
will change. You are the lucky one Papa your days of facing the
discrimination and bigotry of this world are over.
friend Shirley wrote in her poem, “Let us cry not for Javier. Let
the tears we shed be for those of us he left behind. When we think
of Javier, think of him being free, with no more borders to cross
and no more crops to harvest; think of him as being free.’
no discrimination and I know that is where you are papa. It is
hard for me to believe how quickly these past five months have
past. My children often tell me that it is time to stop mourning
and time to move forward with my life.
they don’t tell me papa is how do I accept your death, tie all my
memories up into a neat little package, shove it into the past and
store it away? And darn it papa, my body cried out for the love we
shared; it cries out to be in your arms once again. I cannot
vanish that love into a past life.
As much as I
don’t want to admit it papa, I have needs that are not being met.
I am hungry for emotional ties; hungry for financial needs, and
yes papa, I am hungry for the physical love that you and I once
shared. Your death has left me in a state of confusion. I have no
idea of what I’m searching for, but I know that whatever I’m
searching for, it will not be found in this town.
think that in order to salvage what little scrap of sanity I have
left that I need a change of scenery. Selling the trailer gave
the illusion of leaving my ghosts behind. But in my heart, in my
mind, in my everyday thoughts and everyday life, and in my very
soul, those ghosts linger still.
standing still, unable to let me move forward and unwilling to let
me stay in the past. Some days I feel like I can let go one small
piece at a time, other days seem to be one trial after the other.
I’m tired papa, tired of fighting a battle that I may never win
Just when I
think I have gotten over your death, memories crop up and the ache
in my heart begins anew. Sometimes I think it is better to live
in the past then face the harsh reality of life without you; the
past is like a cocoon, warm, safe and secure.
think of the person I was before you came into my life, and it is
not a pretty picture. I was bitter and angry, afraid to trust,
afraid to love and be loved. Often I was spiteful, uncaring and
with a chip on my shoulder daring the world to knock it off.
night while dancing in your arms I let you come into my life. Your
love melted my cold heart and knocked that chip off my shoulder.
It was your love for me papa that healed old wounds of my past.
Your love replaced the bitterness with warmth and with giving and
replaced my low self esteem with a new self respect. It was your
love for me papa that knocked down the protective walls I had
built around my heart and my emotions. It was your love for me
papa that took away the darkness and replaced it with sunshine.
Now that you are gone from my life papa, old wounds
have been reopened. And once again bitterness and anger fill this
heart of mine. The protective walls are back in place and the
chip is back on my shoulder. And once again I dare the world to
knock it off, but I want to keep the respect and self worth that
your love gave to me. It was important to you papa and it has
become important for me.
Saturday, June 30, 1990
Birthday Papa! I ‘m a little better today. Yesterday was a very
trying day for me. It was your birthday, you would have turned 6;
yesterday had me thinking of the year before the sickness began.
Pain filled memories opened like a flood gate, flooding my heart
and my mind and my soul. The depression and sadness of that day
had me mixing drinks like there was no tomorrow.
praying that by drinking and taking medicine there would be no
more tomorrows to face. I’m scared papa, scared of loving again,
scared of the emotional ties that might bind me to another. And
yet, while I’m scared, I was not meant to live alone papa.
For now my
energy is focused on telling the story of your death and the
reason behind it. Working on this manuscript keeps my mind from
straying and is keeping me sane.
become discouraged asking my self, what is the purpose? Maybe I
‘am just wasting my time and energy writing words that maybe
nobody will ever read. Some days papa, while writing to you I
feel as if maybe I have slipped across the edge into insanity by
pouring my heart out to a dead spouse.
life seems like one hopeless struggle after another. Yet while on
the verge of giving up my fingers continue to fly across my
keyboard. Buried within the depression is a tiny little spark of
hope that refuses to be extinguished. A little spark of life that
must know that someday, I will be needed by another.. This leaves
me to wonder, by whom will I be needed?
It is not by
my children, they are adults now with families of their own. And
the last thing any of them need is a depressed mother who is
slowly losing sight of her sanity.
At times, I
realize that I cannot keep continue to live in the past, making me
realize that you are gone and I have to accept that what once was,
will never have the chance to again.
I have come
to the realization that I must close the door on the past and move
forward. But closing that door does not mean that I cannot keep
the memories of the love that we once share. Those memories will
always be alive in my heart and in my soul.
The past is
over and the door to my future stands before me, but papa the
courage to open that door does not exist within my heart.
Monday, July 16, 1990
His name is,
‘Andres Rodriguez,’ he is not a new person in my life, just a
friend I have known for three years. In the past before you and
I, there were many chances to be with Andres. But because of his
drinking I stayed clear of any involvement. Carol and Andres had a
little fling but because of his drinking, the fling did not last
Andres papa, do you remember that one weekend last summer when we
visited Kelly and Martin in Chambersburg, after we had taken them
to the store and my old car broke down?
walked to the place where Andres stayed whenever he was in
Chambersburg. But of course Andres was drunk and was in no
condition to help. But his nephew followed us out to the repair
shop on Route 30, where I dropped off my car.
headed back to Virginia and dropped us off in Martinsburg. When
you thanked him for the ride, he said, ‘no problem.’ It is hard to
forget Andres, papa.
If I choose
to become involved this time it will be my second time in the
eight months since your death. I don not know if that is a good
track record or a bad one When you were dying papa I begged to die
with you, ‘no mama,’ you said, ‘live for me.’
Okay papa I ‘m living, but I can’t live alone, I don’t want to live
alone. While I still may be disabled papa, there seems to be a lot
of life left in this old girl. Until death lowers its black
cloud, I refuse to curl up in a rocking chair, sit on the front
porch of this apartment and watch life pass me by.
But to open my heart and take another chance on love, I am not ready
or willing to take that step. You papa, were the love of my life.
Do you remember what you said, while trying to make me fall in
love with you?
You said ,”Mama, what if life but one chance after another?” And you
were right papa, that is what life is about, one chance after
another, one choice after another and praying the choice you make
will be the right one.
If I am being too bold or too brazen now papa it is your fault for
tearing down the walls of protection I had built around my heart
and my emotions. It is your fault papa, for teaching me how to
trust again and how to give without the fear of being hurt.
I met up with Andres during a week-end visit to Kelly’s. “Andy is
looking for you,” Martin said. But Andy had been, ‘looking,’ for
me for three years. I was never lost, I was just involved or not
interested. The last time Andy,’ looked,’ for me, you and I had
become husband and wife, marking the passing of another year.
From time to
time, during my week-end visits to Pennsylvania, I would run into
Andres. When I did, he was usually drunk, making our
conversations short. “Hi, how are you,” end of conversation. he
seemed to know, don’t ask me how, whenever I was in town. If he
wasn’t drunk he would seek me out. But this time, I was the one
who went looking for him.
some junk that needed to be removed from in front of her house, or
she would have to pay a big fine to the city of Chambersburg. I
remembered that Andres had a truck. When I found Andres, we had
our usual conversation, “Hi, how are you?” As usual he had been
drinking but he was not drunk.
I told him
about the junk that needed to be removed from in front of Susan’s
house and asked if I could borrow his truck. He reached into his
pocket and handed me the keys, “be careful going through town,” he
said, “The truck is not inspected.”
loading up the junk, I searched the back country roads around
Chambersburg, looking for a place to dump it. But every time I
thought I had spotted a good place, a car would come down the
road, or someone would be watching me from their front yard. I
never found a place I could dump it without being seen.
hours of this, I returned the truck to Andres. He laughed when he
saw the junk still piled in the bed of the truck. “Don’t worry,”
he laughed, “ I will dump it in the back of my house in Virginia.’
I thanked him for the use of his truck, but I still felt the need
to apologize. “I am sorry about the junk. I could not find a spot
to dump it without being seen.”
I handed him
the keys to his truck and without warning, he pulled me into his
arms and planted an unexpected kiss on my lips. I was taken by
surprise and yet thrilled and excited by his passion within that
I don’t know
how to explain it papa, but I kissed him back. Andy grinned. “Does
this mean our relationship has changed?” he asked. “It’s
possible,” I said, making no commitment but not ruling one out.
I don’t like
talking to you about this papa, but I feel the need to be
truthful. Something strange happened within that kiss. It was
like a, ‘click,’ I don’t know how else to describe the feeling.
Some people just, ‘click,’ and others don’t. You and I,
‘Clicked.’ And Andy and I, ‘clicked.’
It seemed to
me that during that simple and unexpected exchange of our kiss,
that I could feel his heart reaching out, begging and pleading for
me to feel his pain. It was just a simple kiss and nothing more.
I have not
yet become involved. I am holding off on that decision, mainly
because of the alcohol that is so much of a part of who he is.
that each time I run into Andy he is drunk to the point of falling
down, or he is passed out on the floor of his friend’s apartment.
It is very seldom when I find him in Pennsylvania that he is
But when he
is sober, there is a strong force that draws me to him. Yet, even
during those few times that he is sober enough to carry on a
conversation or go to a dance, warning bells ring loud and clear
in my head, ‘stay clear,’ they warn,’ because of the drinking,’
and I often wonder papa, if that is your spirit telling me not to
are sweet, yet passionate, with a demanding hunger. Right or
wrong, the image of Andy and the powerful hunger reaching out from
his heart refuses to be erased from my memory.
The pain in
his heart seems to tug at my soul, making me wonder if underneath
that macho toughness that the world sees beats a heart begging to
be loved and a mind begging to be understood; and a body begging
to be set free from the addiction of it’s Alcoholism?
thinking about the possibility of becoming involved has made me
ask myself some tough questions. Could I do for Andy what you did
for me those long months ago?
giving of my time and patience teach Andy to open his heart and
learn to trust again? And would my love, if and when I choose to
give it, be enough replace the alcohol in his life? Would
understanding the man beneath the alcohol be enough to bring down
the protective walls he has built around his heart and his
thinking about going into this relationship makes me wonder papa,
if I am in such a desperate search for a new life, in such a
desperate search to be needed and wanted by someone that I would
be setting the stage for the biggest fall of my life.
Not being a seer papa, I have no crystal ball allowing
me a glance into the future. While the warning bells ring in my
head, as it was when I had to sell the trailer, the choice was not
mine to make. I find that as I must move from the apartment, again
the choice is not mine to make.
Moving Forward With This
Process called ‘Life.’
August 31, 1990
angry with me papa, but I have left Martinsburg behind and moved
with Andres to his house in Virginia. He has fixed up a room for
me where I have my own space. After Charles moved out, I could no
longer pay the rent on the apartment by myself. You need to know
and understand how this relationship got started papa.
afternoon Andres showed up at my apartment. He was sober. “I
can’t go back to Virginia just yet,” he said, “My boss told some
friends to tell me the police are looking for me. Could I stay
here for a week or so, until they think I have went back to
I did not
know what to make of his strange request. “I have a sofa bed,” I
said, “You’re welcome to it.” Andres grinned. “Do you have any
beer?” I had to laugh at that. “No, but I have iced tea or
lemonade.” “Okay, ice tea.” I poured him a glass of ice tea. “It’s
none of my business but why are the police looking for you? “ He
shrugged, “Could be tickets or maybe I didn’t show up in court, I
don’t know” “If you need something let me know and I will help
okay?” “I don’t have any Spanish food,” I said, ‘No sauce or
peppers and tortillas. You might want to pick some up while
you’re at the store.” “You got meat?” I checked the freezer.
“Hamburger and chicken.” “Let’s get to the store, I’m hungry and I
can’t eat food without peppers.”
needed Andres would buy it. In some ways he is a lot like you were
papa. He might drink, but he is not lazy. The first thing he did
the following Monday morning was drive around until he found a job
landlord showed up the following Friday, demanding September’s
rent, Andres paid it. “This is for September,” he said, “But she
won’t be here in October.” “Is this my thirty day notice?” he
asked. “Yes,” Andy said.
landlord left I talked to Andy about what he had said. “It was
good of you to pay that for me,” I told him, “But if I move from
this apartment. Me and Shawn will have no where to go.” “Yes you
will. I am going back to Virginia, you are welcome to come with
morning when I told Shawn that we were moving, he threw a fit. “I
don’t like him! He is a drunk and I am not going!” “Shawn, I can’t
keep this apartment. Do you want to homeless and on the street?”
“I don’t know why Javier had to die!” he yelled, “We could have
kept the trailer!” “Shawn I don’t why he had to die either and I
miss him like crazy. But he is gone Shawn, and like it or not, I
have to make decisions based on need.” “Then do it!” he yelled, “I
will go to Susan’s! I am not going to Virginia!” he yelled,
slamming the door and running out of the apartment.
Carol was not happy with me when I told her that I was moving.
“You’re crazy Lynn,” she fussed, “Running off to Virginia with a
man you hardly know.” I had to stifle my anger. Once again, like
they did after your death papa, everyone knew what was good for
me. Everyone had an input into my life. They all had plenty of
advice but no money to back it up with.
And that is
what I needed the most papa, was more income to pay expenses.
“Carol, I am forty-five years old, I hardly need to, ‘run off’!”
“And what about Shawn? Are you giving him up too, along with the
rest of your family?” “Shawn does not want to move! How do I give
up a 17 year-old boy! He has made the decision to go to Susan’s!”
“What about his emotional disability? Lynn he might be 17, but he
still needs you.” “I am not moving to Alaska! I will still be
there if he needs me.”
angry with me sis,” tears filled the blue pools of her eyes. “I
just want you to know what you might be getting into.” “This is
about Andy’s drinking isn’t it? Carol, we are only friends, we are
not lovers.” “But I stopped seeing him because of the alcohol. You
have suffered enough sis, I don’t want to see you get hurt.”
“Carol if I
ever decide to let this relationship become more than friendship,
maybe that would change him.” “Remember Bob? Don’t live in a
dream world sis,” she said, giving me a hug,” People change when
and if they want to change.” “Don’t worry sis, if one-day our
relationship changes, I would walk away before I’d let myself be
our conversation that day makes me wonder, now that I am with him
and even though I have my own room and have not yet shared his
bed; in many ways I have let him become the master of my life. And
it makes me wonder if it would be that easy to walk away?
Some days he
dominates my life completely almost as if I were a creation of his
own making. He is the master and I am his slave, dancing like a
puppet on strings he commands.
has passed since I have moved into his house and the drinking is
still very much a part of him. During heavy bouts with the
alcohol, I feel as if I am losing my identity, one small piece at
a time; and I feel that I have no will of my own.
The power he
seems to possess radiates from within him; revealing more and more
of his personality with each passing day. Some days life is good,
some days it is not. Papa, I know that I can never replace the
kind of love that you and I shared. And If I become involved in
that kind of relationship with Andres, we will never have that
special bond that you and I shared. In lots of way we, ‘click,’
but while I want only good from this friendship, I will also have
to accept the ugly side of the alcohol.
friendship, and at this point that is all it is, will never be too
good and too real to last. In getting over your death I have
learned that whatever is real and whatever is true, does not last
forever; does it papa?
This is the
real world papa, and I must live in it, and make my way the best I
can, without you.
house where we live has become our, ‘together,’ project. While I
clean, scrubbing away years of dirt, grime and neglect. Andy
paints and repairs the walls; Giving the old boards a face life
and making the little house come to life.
‘sober,’ week-ends we spend together, as the house comes to life,
so does his love for me. “I want more than friendship,” he said,
“I want to make love to you.” “Andy, I can’t do that without
marriage.” “What! Marriage! No,” he said, shaking his finger at
me, “I guess we will just stay friends, good friends okay. I will
never marry again.” “I don’t want to marry again,” I said, “Right
now, I just want to be friends, but good friends.” “Okay, we keep
the arrangement the way it is, you clean my house, wash my clothes
and cook my food, and I will take care of your needs.” “Sounds
like a deal to me,” I said, “And thank you for understanding.” “No
problem. But sometimes I want to take you in my arms and make
love. But for now its okay. But someday I will make love to you.”
Andy is very
much the boss in this friendship. His personality is very complex
and very demanding of my attention. He is tireless and fearless,
refusing to be dominated by neither man or woman.
times, his need for alcohol dominates his world completely, making
me feel overwhelmed by the forces that surround him. The alcohol
brings out a side of him that scares me. During those times he can
be mean and angry, verbally abusive, making little snide remarks
that hurt my feelings. Most of the time he passes out sinking into
his world of alcohol.
thankful that I have chosen not to let this friendship turn into
anything more. Even though sober, Andy can be fun and full of
surprises. Like the one weekend he loaded up his truck and we
took off to Ohio. Coming home he stopped at an indoor flea market
in Western Pennsylvania; if I saw something I wanted, Andy brought
another time after Kelly and Martin moved to Martinsburg; we
dropped in, packed them up and Andy surprised all of us with a
trip to a theme park, (Cedar Point) in, Sandusky Ohio.
It is during
these times that I am content. What I cannot tell you papa is that
I am happy with this life. I am not. Andy will lavish me with
gifts, his way of showing love or his way to make amends for
something he may have said while he was drinking. I smile and show
a brave front, but that is all it is, a front, a deceptive face;
like a mask that hides the hurt buried deep inside my heart and my
everything else in my life, where I have been out of options, and
have often made the wrong choices I have learned to cope with the
consequences. I wonder that if I did give myself to him, would it
make a difference? And the answer is, no. Respect is all I have
left papa, and I want to keep it.
during rare mood swings, Andy will share his ideas and future
plans with me. But keeping his problems hidden, buried within
that macho toughness where it cannot be reached.
“I am not a
child!” he yelled one night. Fire burned with such intensity in
his dark eyes, that it scared me. “I am a man!” he yelled, “I am
not a child that needs his mother to come looking for him. I will
go where I please and come back when I please without feeling like
I need to ask my mother’s permission!”
We had taken
a trip to Pennsylvania to check on Shawn and to visit Susan and
the kids. Andy visited with Susan for a while before taking off
with friends. As the night wore on, thinking he had been gone too
long, I made the mistake of, ‘looking for him.’
over this consumed him. He stayed angry with me on the long drive
home and for the next two days.
right papa when you said, ‘ I was an American woman and did not
understand Mexican men. At this point in time, I think it may be
that I do not understand any man, regardless of race, creed or
tough shell lies a tenderness, a kindness for babies, dogs and
kittens. We share his house with a small white terrier I have
named, ‘princess.’ A friend of Susan’s gave me to her. I didn’t
adopt her, she adopted me. There were three little tiny puppies
in the box, they were all so cute I didn’t know which one to
pick. As I was trying to decide, this one little puppy crawled
out of the box and onto my lap. She had chosen me, I named her,
We also have
a large breed mutt named, ‘Bud.’ Andy named him Bud which is
short for, ‘Budweiser.’ This dog was Susan’s. He was given to
her for the grandchildren, Michelle and Juan, but unable to keep
the dog, she gave him to us.
share his house with two female cats, one Tom cat and six small
offspring. The kittens have become, ‘our babies.’
like you and I papa, Andy loves yard sales and flea markets and
long drives into the country.
You and I
were content to cuddle together and stay at home. Andy is not
like that at all. When he is off work and not drinking, he is like
a caged animal pacing back and forth, restlessly seeking its
makes me feel alive again. Don’t hate me papa, but I am now
sharing his bed. I have moved on papa, but you knew that this time
would come didn’t you papa?
Monday, October 17, 1990
The love I
am starting to feel for Andy is pushing me into an unknown future.
There remains within my heart a special place belonging only to
you. The love we shared lingers there; never to be touched or
erased by another. The special bond you and I shared papa, will
never be broken. And papa, even though I have moved forward with
this process called, ‘life,’ I would not have missed loving you
for the world with all its glitter and gold.
what my future may hold with Andy, I cannot live in the past, but
I will never forget you papa, my heart and my soul would not let
my mind ever forget my life with you.
I have sent
all your papers and medical records to the, ‘Migrant Legal Action
Program,’ in, Washington DC. Their lawyers want to look through
them and see if there is enough medical evidence linking your
death, directly or indirectly, to the pesticides. If there is then
I can file a wrongful death suite on your behalf.
manuscript is shaping up and breathing a life of its own. I regret
having to leave Martinsburg just as the fight over the
discrimination was in its beginning stages. I feel there was too
much important business unfinished.
have tried to talk to Andy about the discrimination but he turns
away refusing to talk about it. “Leave it alone,” is his response.
“But Andy,” I protest, “I can’t do that.” “You have no choice,
you’re not there anymore. Forget about it.” “Sometimes I wish I
could, ‘forget about it,’ but I just can’t turn my back and walk
away pretending the discrimination and bigotry never existed and
that I, had never been affected by it.” Sometimes he will become
upset with me.
problem now?” “Andy, discrimination and bigotry is everyone’s
problem.” “Lynn, we have a good life here, don’t mess it up okay?”
“How can wanting to fight injustice mess up the life we have
here?” “Never mind,” he said, “You don’t understand.”
He is right
on that, I did not understand. But talking to him about it and
asking his help, was like talking to myself. His mind was closed
on the subject.
It would be
better if I could take Andy’s advice, turn my back and walk away
and, ‘leave it alone.’ But the indignation rising within my soul,
refuses to rest until the wrongs have been righted.
need to correct injustice stems from the Irish blood inherited
from my father, or from the Cherokee blood inherited from my
mother. I have no idea where it comes from. It is a powerful force
that keeps me writing letters and filing complaints, letting the,
‘powers that be,’ know that even after all the laws which have
been passed against discrimination, that injustice and
discrimination still exist. And that someone in authority needs to
correct it; someone somewhere needs to stand up and say, ‘enough
Tuesday, December 11,
unbelievable that one year ago today papa, I lost you. How dare
time pass so quickly? I was depressed and moody, lacking in
Christmas spirit but not understanding the reason why, until I
glanced at the calendar. Realizing that today’s date was December
11th, marking the first anniversary of your death. As
guilt consumed me, I cried.
How dare I
papa! How dare I push aside memories of you and continue with my
life? I have no right. Yet, I have done just that, pushed aside
your memories and the ending of this month will mark the passing
of another year.
‘happiness,’ of my new found, ‘life,’ there still lies within my
mind a deep seated need to describe to you papa, the joys and
sorrows and everyday happenings of my world. I have the need to
describe every event of this new life, down to the smallest
detail, especially when my depression becomes overwhelming like
But even a
day like today has been cannot steal the joy from small victorious
battles. Breathing life into this manuscript is beginning to pay
off. The post office has become my friend, bringing a reply from
an editor expressing interest in one of my other manuscripts,
titled, “Daring To Be Themselves.” Perhaps the coming new year
will bring everything together.
migrant action lawyers in Washington are working hard on your
case, trying to link your death directly or indirectly, with the
pesticides you inhaled and with the water you drank, my fingers
slave away at the keyboard. The ending of one manuscript is the
beginning of another. Writing has become the key to the saving of
are split into two different individuals with each enjoying a
separate life from the other. One is brazen and carefree carrying
a chip on its shoulder, clinging to its, ‘I could care less,’
attitude, flings open the door rushing head-long towards its
unknown future; the other more cautious and reminiscent
personality remains sullen, trapped by memories of its past life.
She is lost in limbo papa, longing for its story-book romance,
longing for her long dead lover. Marking her present life with
feelings of guilt and shame. Blackened by her insecurities her
mind questions and doubts her future.
As my feet
follow down this strange path I have chosen papa, you are still
very much a partner in this, ‘new life.’ As life makes its changes
pushing me towards a new crossroads and as the months push ahead,
you remain alive in my heart and in my soul.
December 25, 1990
Navidad mi amor, Feliz Navidad! Merry Christmas my love, Merry
is great joy in laughing again and in loving again and in being
loved, the mind is like a court jester full of tricks sliding
blindfolds over the eyes. Moving the body into a new dwelling,
sometimes turning frowns into smiles, turning tears into laughter,
it is only an act papa, creating the disguise of happiness.
of silence the heart remembers. The body starved for love and
attention may reach out in hunger to satisfy its need, but ravaged
by pain and guilt the soul weeps; mourning that which can never be
times when Andy is like two different people, one is loving and
kind, making me want to wrap myself in his arms and shower all the
love on him that once belonged to you. All too soon the alcohol
rushes in that dark, mean and nasty stranger. Who destroy all
happy moments, deflating the heart like a busted balloon, making
me want to flee, running as fast and far away as possible,
more, I am finding it impossible to cope with Andy’s mood swings
which cause sudden changes in his behavior. Today, Christmas Day
1990, has been one of those impossible times, where escape seems
to be the only answer.
started out like any Christmas morning should with Christmas
greetings and a kiss. Andy kissed me good morning and took me into
his arms. “I think I’ m falling in love,” he said, “Look in my
room I have something for you.”
like a child, I rushed into his bedroom, I screamed when I saw the
new Typewriter, it was a Word Processor, he had tied a red bow
around it. I rushed into his arms and smothered him with kisses.
I cried, “I really needed that. I have been wanting to buy one but
they were expensive. Thank you so much Andy. Now I have something
for you.” Going into my room and taking the box from my shelf, I
handed it to him.
Christmas,” I said. “What is this?” he asked. “Open it.” he tore
open the box, starring in surprise at the new black cowboy boots.
“I hope you like them and I hope they fit,” I said. Andy walked
around the room in the boots. “I like the boots and they fit
great. Just the right size, how did you know black is my color?”
“It wasn’t hard, all the clothes in your wardrobe is black, all
but your work clothes.” “Thank you,” he said, pulling me into his
arms. “Maybe sometime toady I will take you to Pennsylvania to
visit Shawn and your kids.” “It is snowing. We can’t drive in the
snow.” Correcting my words, he laughed. “You can’t drive in the
snow. I have a truck remember? I can drive in the snow.”
Christmas morning together, laughing, loving and being loved. As I
went about fixing Christmas dinner, Anders started to drink. I
returned to living room, to ask him if he liked pineapple rings on
his ham, it was then I saw the bottle of liquor. “My Christmas
present to me,” he said grinning and taking a swig from the
prepared Christmas dinner, Ham, sweet yams, corn, gravy, dressing,
cranberry sauce, mashed potatoes, rolls and pumpkin pie; Andres
was busy celebrating the day drinking. When dinner was ready, I
called to him from the kitchen. He did not answer, thinking he had
fallen asleep and not wanting the meal to get cold, I shook him.
“Hey sleepy head, dinner is finished.” When he opened his eyes, I
could see that he was very drunk. Swaying from side to side he
tried to stagger to his feet, but fell back onto the sofa each
time. I tried to help.
alone, -------- -------,” he said, pushing me back and when he
had used all the curse words he knew in English, he started
shouting them to me in Spanish. With tears stinging my eyes, I
retreated to the kitchen, leaving him alone to wallow in his
As I ate my
dinner alone in the kitchen, tears rolled down my face. His
drunken rage had destroyed whatever love I felt for him that
Christmas morning; destroying too, the illusive image of, ‘my new
If it had
not been snowing that day, I would have packed my clothes, my
manuscripts, picture albums and whatever else I deemed important
and fled. But unable to do what should have been done, I retreated
to my room, unpacked the word processor, connecting everything
together and escaped into my writing; my fantasy world where I am
wrapped in a cocoon; safe, warm and secure, a world of my own
choosing where the harsh realities of life do not exist.
My heart was
aching on Christmas Day, aching because I could not be with Shawn,
Susan and Kelly and the grandchildren; and aching for a love that
my mind tells me will never be; and aching for you papa.
tries to tell me, that it is not Andy the man, who turns into this
dark, mean and nasty stranger; it is not Andy who speaks the nasty
vile words, but the alcohol talking through him.
Try as I
might do push aside the reality I don’t want to accept, my mind
speaks the truth; ‘lift the blindfolds Lynn, the two are one and
the same.’ My mind speaks a truth I do not want to hear.
hurt my feelings.” I told him the next day as I handed him his
coffee. “You don’t like my drinking?” he shrugged, “You need to
go. Look, the drinking is my life. I like it. You can deal with it
or find somewhere else to go. I think I might be falling in love
with you,” he said, “But if you accept me, you need to accept the
“Is that all you want for your life Andy? “ I asked,
hoping he would open up and talk about it. “Look, I had a good day
yesterday. Sometimes when I get to drinking, I don’t know who
people are. If I hurt your feelings, I didn’t mean to.” “But Andy
why don’t you let me help you?” He laughed. “How can you help me?
Look, I don’t have a problem okay? If you can’t deal with it, it’s
your problem, not mine. I don’t want to talk about no more today.”
For Andy that was the end of the discussion and the end of the
Tuesday, January 15,
we have a problem, or I should say I have a problem. Again it
seems like I have jumped through hoops and overcame obstacles just
to have more hurdles strewn along my path.
awaited news from The Migrant Legal Program is not what I had
expected to hear, This news is not what I have struggled and
fought for this past year. To say that conflicting emotions fill
my mind and soul would not be an accurate description of my
feelings. I am devastated by the news that has made its way into
my mailbox this morning. There is no other way to describe these
feelings but hurt, anger, resentment and betrayal.
crew-leader and friend, confirmed the working conditions in
Winchester, Va., where under the threat of losing your job, you
were forced to work the trees while they were being soaked with
that while employed with your old boss in the orchard, in
Martinsburg, W.VA., you afforded no protection while you sprayed
the trees; no protective clothing and no mask.
confirmed that while planting tomatoes, it was mid July and hot,
but there was no fresh water in the fields and no sign in Spanish
warning the workers no to drink from the hose because the water
was carrying pesticides to the plants.
detail that Jessie confirmed papa, just a small minor detail you
overlooked before coming to the United States, papa; your Mexican
wife. Remember what you said the night we were dancing at the
camp? When I looked into your soul and felt that you were missing
someone special from your life? As if reading my thoughts, you
said, ‘my wife, along time ago, but no I have no more wife.’
That was the
first time you lied to me papa. You still had a wife in Mexico.
Just one small detail Jessie confirmed. Before our marriage papa,
you neglected to divorce your wife in Mexico.
revelation papa leaves my mind to question our life together. Was
everything we shared a lie papa? Or was just the marriage itself a
lie? Remember when your spoke of taking a trip to Oklahoma to
visit your son’s and your daughter? And jokingly, I asked what
other secrets you were keeping from me? Laughing, you said,
‘Nothing mama.’ That was a lie too, wasn’t it papa?
On May 2,
1989, when you placed that gold band on my finger and spoke of how
our love would span the bonds of death; how could everything we
shared have been a lie papa? Yes papa, I am feeling, cheap, used
and betrayed. I am not your wife, she is. I have no legal right to
carry your last name, no legal right to file a wrongful death
suite on your behalf; but your wife will.
How could we
have shared so much papa, and all it turns out to have been a lie?
How could any of it have been faked? And yet it seems that it was.
My love for
you was real. And in spite of my anger papa, in spite of this news
that has left me reeling, I know you loved me. During our short
time together, we shared one heart, one mind and one soul.
county does not recognize our marriage, I have no legal standing
to file a wrongful death suite against the orchards. If you had
not died, perhaps we could correct that little small detail of
your marriage in Mexico.
My heart is
angry, papa, it reeks with bitterness from the very bottom of my
soul. I wonder now, how many more workers will die in the
orchards, farms and fields of this great country? How many more
workers will be exposed to dangerous pesticides by blatant
negligence and disregard for the value of human life?
have listened to Andy, I should have, ‘left it alone and walked
away.’ But I could not, and now Julie being the turncoat and
greedy little waif she is, will profit from all of my hard effort,
proving that your death was directly linked to the pesticides.
‘good,’ thing that may result of this bad news is that your
children and your Mexican wife, will be able to file a wrongful
that one afternoon in Hershey, when thinking you were going to die
that day, you asked me to, ‘fight,’ the orchards and the farm for
what they had done to your lungs? “Fight for me mama, for my son’s
and my daughter, and for you mama, because I won’t be here to take
care of you.”
fought papa, and those who did not fight, have won the battle. I
have lost papa, I have lost. But at the end of my life it will not
matter. Like you papa, I too, will one-day leave this world the
same way I entered into it; with nothing.
too, does not matter. Though my heart and my soul may be reeking
with bitterness, I will do what I have done in the past; life goes
on. In time, I will pull myself up, ‘get over it,’ and move
forward with this process I called, ‘life.’
have asked me to testify before a congressional committee on, ‘the
misuse of pesticides and how it affects migrant farm workers.’
“You would make a,
your testimony will come from your heart.” If I can get through
this bitterness and resentment, I may testify. If I do, I will
testify for you papa.
But as I sit
here typing away, I wonder, in the end who will care? Not the
politician with his hands in the cookie jar; not the grower whose
use of illegal labor, puts profits above the value of human life.
As sad as it
may be, it is truth. It’s all part of the game called, ‘political
power.’ The politician plays for, ‘votes;’ the grower and the
farmer play for, ‘political power and profit.’
wins. Every one of them takes home a slice of the American pie.
Everybody wins, with the exception of farm workers and their
families. But of course that too, is just one small minor
unimportant detail in the harvesting of the crops.
what comes next papa? Rest in peace papa, the fight is finished,
rest in peace.’
wrote these final words in her journal, which had turned into a
manuscript of their short life together, tears flowed from the
hazel pools of her eyes. Hurt, angry and resentful, reaching down
into her heart Lynn found love. She used that love to forgive him
mama,” papa’s sweet spirit whispered, “Thank you for fighting for
me; thank you for forgiving me.” “You’re welcome papa,” Lynn said,