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The Memoir Coach Blog

Reflections of past years…

The beauty of blogging is the simple archive that keeps all your thoughts in one place.  I spent this morning looking back at past musings over the last 5 plus years.  I miss the Mondays with Melitas and let’s face it, I miss Melitas!

I could always count on Melitas to be honest with me about my life, my business and whenever I needed advice, she was the wise one I would go to.

Her spirit lives on in the blogs on this site and in her book and in her many hundreds of entries in her journals.

At this time of year reflection is a natural process of remembering those who have passed on, reflecting on what we remember most.

Meeting Melitas has been one of the biggest blessings of my life.  Whether we were watching football, or her Lakers play or one of the Olympic games or just sitting across from each other, both of us on our computers there was definitely a love between us.

I loved sharing her last Laker’s game with her next to her on her bed.  I had a feeling this was the last game we would enjoy together.  She watched as much as she could even tapping her two index fingers together like a small clap when the Lakers would score.  I asked Melitas if she remembered that we watched Kobe’s last game together.  She nodded in remembrance and then she said…”we both cried.”  I said, “yep, we sure did.”  And as she closed her eyes to rest I cried.

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The Best Christmas Meal Ever

I was just leaving the upscale restaurant in La Paz after a wonderful dinner with friends when I passed the man on the corner selling tamales. Seeing the huge pots of steaming corn wrapped in husks brought me back to a memory of my first Christmas in Baja just two years earlier.

It was just two years ago on Christmas morning that I was walking my dog Bruce through the neighborhood of Loreto Bay in Baja. It had only been 3 weeks since I had moved here and didn’t really know anyone. I had a budget of 1,000 pesos a month to spend on food (which broke down to about $20 U.S. dollars a week).

The week before I had made my first trip to the grocery store and spent nearly all my allotted money for the month of December since I also had to buy laundry soap and cleaning supplies as well as groceries. As I was walking Bruce, my mind wandered to Christmas’s past. I thought about times spent with my children when they were little running to see what Santa had brought them, spending the day with family and lots of wonderful food. I didn’t realize how lonely I was until the tears started falling down my cheeks.

I was lost in thought and didn’t hear the old pickup truck pull up beside me. The wife rolled down her window and spoke to me in some English but mostly spanish.

“Senora, would you like to buy Christmas tamales to take home to your family?”

She was probably my age, but due to living a hard life she appeared much older.

“No, gracias, lo siento, no pesos.” I replied, afraid to even ask how much one tamale would cost.

“Senora, I made these myself, you can’t have Christmas dinner without tamales.”

In my broken English I told her I was alone for Christmas but maybe I could find the money and buy one tamale.

I looked at her and her husband in their old beat up truck which seemed like it should have been in a junk yard and not on the side of the road looking for people to buy their tamales.

I saw the hard work and knew that no matter how poor I was, I didn’t know what poor really was. I knew that my pesos would help support them and their family.

“Un momento,” I said, “let me go to my casa and find some pesos, I will buy one.”

I walked down about a hundred yards to my casa and started looking for some change. I remembered I had a few pesos left from the shopping trip the day before. I looked for change and grabbed what I had, even if I didn’t have enough for a tamale I wanted to give the money to them.

It probably took me 15 minutes to find the money and return and as I walked around the corner they were still there waiting. I wondered to myself how long they would have waited, but then I remembered I gave them my word that I would be back and your word is your promise in the Mexican culture. They smiled when they saw me and I showed them the only money I had left in my hand.

They opened up the back of their pickup truck and inside a large beat up silver pot were stacks of tamales. At that moment I wish I would have had money to buy them all from them so they could go back and celebrate Christmas with their family.

I handed the man the money and he said, “gracias, senora, Feliz Navidad, now you will have the best Christmas ever.”

The wife put two tamales in the little plastic bag and gave me a hug.

“One for you and one for your perro, Feliz Navidad!”

I walked away from that experience a changed person. I had little to give to someone who had even less.

Their faces may have been worn and tired but their spirit was alive and shown through their eyes.

When I returned back to my casa I put the Tamales on a plate and Bruce and I had the best meal we both have ever eaten.

 

 

 

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What a Life…Indeed!

I have taught hundreds of women during my time here in the desert, but none has moved me as the firecracker of a woman named Melitas.  I met her when she was 91 and loved her from the moment I saw her.  We had a special relationship of teacher student although many times the roles changed and she was the teacher and I was the student.  From there we became friends, great friends.

At age 93 she began blogging for me and soon, she was blogging every Monday and it became Monday with Melitas.

2 years ago I moved to Baja and I promised her that in reality I would probably see her more living out of the country than I did living here, and that was true.  For the first year we skyped when I was away and during the several times a year I came to the desert I stayed with her and the “warden” at Casa Agave.

I am so grateful that I arrived and was able to spend her last 9 days on the earth with her.  There is something so pure about being able to share those times with someone as they know they are leaving soon.  We watched her last Laker’s game together while laying in her bed side by side.

I promised I would work hard and make her proud….

God speed Melitas, you are now ready for your “beeg” vacation…book signing 1b

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Mondays with Melitas – March 28, 2016

Kathy's Kookies

Kathy’s Kookies

KATHY’S DELIGHTS ON WHEELS                                 MARCH 28, 2016

 

We have a neighbor, Kathy, who, with her husband, Steve, live down in the cul-de-sac at the end of our street, Dandelion Drive. We met them several years back when our neighbor, Lori introduced us at her first ‘hood party. Lori was our Social Director, and when she moved away to Houston we don’t have any more soirees to celebrate birthdays, or 4th of July, or any other old day we need an excuse for.

Whenever Kathy and Steve arrived at one these social gatherings, I would know some sort of delightful dessert most probably had arrived with them. (All I took was my Tequila on the rocks, salted rim, squeeze of lime, in my tall insulated tumbler to keep it cold and enough of it to last a couple of hours.)

Kathy is an inspired Baker. She absolutely loves and adores to bake, and she puts her whole heart and soul into it. The oven is always on “bake.”

Same ol’ stuff does not come out of there. Her kookies, or cakes, pies, or whatever she has dreamed up, is always decorated, and looking like a graduate of that cooking school in Paris had accomplished the results.

She spends so much time baking, I am hoping she doesn’t move her kitchen into the living room to be a little more comfortable in the easy chair or on the sofa.

You would think the two of them, both Kathy and Steve, might be on the corpulent side with all that bakery stuff sitting around; but no, both are as slim and trim as can be. I get the picture — Kathy just adores baking — but they don’t eat it! She packs them up in colorful containers, and are put in their “delights on wheels” (their SUV) and deliver the “sweets on wheels” to friends and neighbors. She probably was noticing how I was looking, thin and half dead; so for months now, the “wheels” parks in our driveway, and Steve gets out to deliver the goods. This week for Easter, it was a basket with Easter Bunny grass in the bottom with Kathy’s Kookies very professionally laid out on top. Just take a look at the photo. Two alike cookies, decorated — big ones, small ones, dark ones, yellow ones, white ones, different flavors.

Right now I am sitting here scribbling away, munching one of those big kookies, and washing it down to my happy tummy with a bottle of Boost High Protein. Five or six months ago, I was weighing in at 101#, and this morning the scales were creaking at 108.5#. It’s a good thing I have loads of sagging onion paper skin to fill out.

Thanks, Kathy, for all those treats, and thanks to your punctual deliveryman, Steve. He’s a keeper.

Especially if he doesn’t forget how to find 79613 Dandelion Dr.

 

MELITAS FORSTER                                       MONDAYS WITH MELITAS

 

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Mondays with Melitas – March 21, 2016

mel blog 3-21A DAY WITHOUT OLIVES                                           MARCH 21, 2016

 

Here’s the thing; Last week, there were two bowls of breakfast lentils minus the olives. What a downer for me to try to start a day without them. I didn’t yell or scream about “where were the olives?” I just remained “tranquila” (my calm Spanish blood) and somehow I managed to survive those days. Everything smoothed out by the end of the week, so I put it out of my mind. These days I sometimes don’t have to banish something from the mind, items seem to get lost more often than they used to.

Along came the next week, and almost immediately things were going from bad to worse. Two days of lentils — NO OLIVES! I still did not mention this lack of a part of my diet.

Can you blame me for being worried about what’s going on in the Warden’s memory box? And since it didn’t only happened one itsy-bitsy Daylight Savings Time day, I would overlook it — but here it is — a total of five days — how can one overlook twenty olives? (she allows me four a day.)

Yesterday, we had a tamale fried with some cheese on top and then you separately fry up a runny yoked egg and plop it on top the tamale. No need for olives, but if the Warden had made a misstep and accidentally put some olives on by mistake — I still wouldn’t say anything. Just gobble them quickly so she wouldn’t realize the mistake. Now here are some answers to this serious question that has reared its ugly head. But OLIVES are not little things. They mean a lot to me. It’s extremely important.

I have tried to think of a few things which may have caused all   this dilemma.

1) Maybe she is just testing me to see if I notice.

2) Could be she is sore about something I have done, or

didn’t do.

3) Maybe I forgot to set the dish washer which is my job.
4) And then maybe she has started to forget little things
 She’ll find out soon enough about me talking about her when she types this mish-mash for Tammy to put on “Monday with—–“ MELITAS FORSTER                               MONDAYS WITH MELITAS
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"Because of Tammy I have found confidence in my writing and feel blessed to be honored in such a way. I have found my voice. I have found freedom! I recommend anyone for whatever reason to expand their life and sign up for her writing workshops or classes. You'll be amazed at how good you are and how everyone has a story worth telling. Sign up and set your voice free!"
Wendy Price, Palm Desert, CA

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Tammy L. Coia is an AWA Affiliate, certified to lead workshops in the AWA method as described in Writing Alone & With Others by Pat Schneider, Oxford University Press.