"If one is lucky, a solitary fantasy can totally transform one million realities" --Maya Angelou, Poems

Friday, June 26, 2015


In my first post, I said I would write about premonitions, for the one my father experienced is an important scene in my novel. Now I invite you to read about a premonition of mine.

Since 2007, I’ve been involved with a wonderful group of women in a critique group, Writers Unanimous. In 2009, we lost one of our own. She fell asleep driving and was killed: a single vehicle accident, no other fatalities except for her dog who was traveling with her. We lost our dear Marie.

I received the news via email from one of our members. Understandably, she was too grief stricken to phone us all and unable to find her voice, she apologized that she had to share the news via an email. Perhaps you’ve received a similar message.

Fast forward seven years. I was in Disney Land with my family and a thought popped into my head that I would come home to find a similar message about someone in that group of women. It scared the hell out of me. “Please, God, when I get home, don’t let me open my email to another one of those messages—Please!” I didn’t want any harm to come to the group of women who had become such an important part of my life. “No, it’s Chuck. Something is going to happen to him,” my inner voice said. I thought of that one husband in particular; his name came to me, right there in Disney Land, the happiest place on earth. I dismissed the thought as too disturbing.

A few days after I arrived home, I received the email I feared. My beautiful and talented friend, a member of our group, had lost her husband of 57 years, the man whose name came to me. He had a massive heart attack. I had met him on only a few occasions.  One day several years ago he helped me jump start my car, and please forgive the cliché, but he had a twinkle in his eye. I’ve heard many stories about what a wonderful friend, father, husband and man Chuck was. My heart goes out to his family.

People have premonitions. When my dad was eighteen and living in Puerto Rico, he envisioned a series of five numbers. A couple days later, Caimito, the lottery ticket salesman and most popular guy in town, sauntered into Dad’s small clothing and textile store with the same number.  Dad was so sure of his premonition that he bought entire sheet of lottery tickets, all thirty “pieces” for six dollars, what it took him a decade to earn delivering pastries to the macheteros, the workers in the sugarcane fields. Incredibly, he won the jackpot. He used his winnings to transform his life: to become a dentist and change the lives of his people. When he retired many years later, many of his patients cried. 

I’ll end with a lighter thought, a funny photo of me and my daughter on that Disney trip, about to be catapulted away on California Screamin’, the fastest roller coaster I’ve ever been on. We’re four rows back—she’s the cute one smiling. I’m screaming. Literally.

And Dad’s huge premonition? It’s hard to believe but it happened. Divine intervention? Karma? I’m not religious. But I know that in my dad’s case, it was a little bit of both.
Writing prompt:
Describe a premonition. Or share a story of a promotion that someone told you about. 

Tuesday, June 16, 2015


“What was your earliest memory, Dad?”

I posed this question during one of my many hours interviewing my father for my novel, based on his remarkable life.

“Late summer, when I was three,” he began. “Hurricane San Felipe destroyed the island. My father carried me and Lila to the Cadiz house, the only cement house in the village . . . he and Don Cadiz ripped up the floorboards so our families could hide there, in the dirt crawl space underneath the floor. It was moist, the dirt seeped into me. It was hard to breath with all those people, almost fifteen of us huddling in fear. 

“Afterwards, the town was destroyed. Trees uprooted, entire houses gone. The sheep herder never found his flock. We slept without a roof over our heads for weeks. The small grammar school was destroyed, too. There was no money to replace lost supplies. Each student received only one pencil and one writing tablet for the rest of the year . . .”

I was amazed at the accuracy of my father’s memory from only age three. Hurricane San Felipe battered Puerto Rico on September 13, 1928 and is the only cyclone to hit the island at Category 5 intensity, at winds up to 175 MPH. Click on the NOAA Hurricane Scale for an excellent depiction of storms ranging from 1 to 5 and the damage inflicted.

San Felipe is the second deadliest hurricane to impact the U.S. mainland, behind only the 1900 Galveston Hurricane, and the most powerful to strike Puerto Rico. The eye of the hurricane took eight hours to cross the island; 500,000 people were homeless in its aftermath and 312 were killed. San Felipe inflicted 50 million dollars damage in 1928, just in time for the great depression. This is another image Dad remembered, of a ten-foot pine board driven through the trunk of an African palm, from The Hurricane Hunters by Ivan Ray Tannehill (Dodd, Mead and Company, 1960)

Dad also talked about the calm before the storm, how everything was completely silent. No rustles from the leaves of the palm trees. Even the animals didn’t make a sound, the birds stopped singing.

Writing Prompt:

What’s your earliest memory? Who was there? What was the season?

Friday, June 5, 2015


I’m about to turn fifty and if I didn’t interview my dad for my book I never would have known about my uncle, Isidro, and his tour in during World War II in the Puerto Rican 65th infantry, the most famous in the island’s history. On November 9, 1945, my father, Ramón, and his sister, Lila, drove along the southern coast of Puerto Rico to meet Isidro and the surviving members of the 65th infantry in Ponce. After a tour of duty that took them to Panama, North Africa, Casablanca, Germany, Italy and the Maritime Alps in France, the men were coming home.

Puerto Ricans from all over the island came to Ponce to celebrate the infantry’s return. It would be the first time the siblings, Ramón, Isidro and Lila, laid eyes on each other after Isidro's spending years on the battlefield. 

Imagine the electricity in the air as islanders waved Puerto Rican and American flags and cheered and celebrated the end of the war. Music blared from roadside bars and the sangria flowed freely. Joyous pandemonium reigned.

Their reunion is one of the most moving stories my father shared, as he told me of he and his brother embracing after four years. Dad’s voice became hoarse and wistful as he recalled the events from that day, how he held his brother at arms length, how handsome Isidro looked in uniform, yet how different, older than his 26 years.

Isidro was my dad’s only brother never to have a family. And I feel a little part of Isidro in me, as if for only a moment, I’ve brought him back to life. After all, he is an ancestor, and we share DNA. I wish I had a photo of Isidro on that day, but the one below shows Ramón (age three) and Lila (age five) as she was like a little mother to my dad, and shared in this very important memory!


This story is for my thirteen-year-old daughter, and my nieces and nephew. Yet I have yet to share with her the reason why I wrote these stories down, turned them into a book she can read her history. Why??

Writing Prompt:
Describe a reunion with someone in your life that stands out to you. Or ask a loved one or a parent to describe a meaningful reunion to you. Share it here.