Thursday, March 08, 2018

Delightfully WILD

Delightfully Wild
I was tamed
From being wild
When I was just a mere child.
I was framed
Into a box
Labeled, Good Boy.
I was not so much a boy,
As a trophy to be displayed.
And even when I played,
I had to look presentable,
With clean clothes,
And polished shoes,
That I dare not lose
When I played in the dirt.
I was tamed with a belt
That would leave a welt
But not as deep
As the curse of shame
That forced me to cast blame
Upon my very own self.
But when I got down
On my hands and knees,
Mother Earth would whisper,
“Do as you please,
Run and shout,
All about,
Without care or worry.
And please don’t hurry
As you explore the wonder
That is ME,
Beneath your feet.
Disregard what you think,
Those others might think,
When you are happy and wild,
Radiating the joy of your inner child,
That refuses to be meek and mild,
When there is dancing to be done.
Don’t always behave.
Or you’ll become a slave
To the disparaging thoughts of others.
Being naughty, from time to time,
Will save your sanity,
With a little self-indulgent vanity,
That makes your smile beautiful.
Please try to remember
That you are Mother Earth’s child,
Created to be joy filled and
Delightfully WILD.

Thursday, March 01, 2018

Play In The Dirt

Play In The Dirt

We had no indoor toilet,

No gas or electric heat

When I was a little boy.

We used the outhouse

Far away in the back,

And had to be wary

Of the giant rooster

Who did attack me

On more than one occasion.

We brought in wood

To fire the stoves

To cook our meals.

To warm the house

And make it smell good.

I played in the dirt

With marbles and sticks.

I carved out roads and trails

For imaginary horses.

The rain made mud

For towers and castles.

Back then, my life had

Very few hassles.

When I was in high school.

I learned to use a slide rule

And write letters on a typewriter

I got my first calculator

When I went to college

And I wrote the calculations

Down on paper

To make sure the calculator

Calculated the answer correctly.

A 7 by 7 inch green

Tiny little monitor screen

Did not display computer graphics.

It only showed light green

Fortran characters on

the university super computer.

I spent hours plunking and plunking

The keyboard characters,

While I created a 3D grid in my head,

And prayed that my code was correct.

I still know how to write in cursive

Although it is not very pretty.

Today I slide my finger

Over the letters on my cell phone

To create a message

That could reach the other side of the planet

At the blink of an eye.

I worry sometimes that

Not all electronic inventions

Are improvements.

We risk losing "touch"

With all things tactile.

Losing our ability to be sensual

With each and every tap

On our cell phone.

We become numb

To the energetic vibrations

Of our own bodies,

Of our surroundings,

Of our very own breath.

We need to play in the dirt,

Splash in the rain,

Stomp in the mud,

And chop wood

For a warm fire

from time to time,

Lest we forget

that we are human.

Saturday, February 24, 2018

Why Do Our Children Lie?

The question:
Why do our children feel the need to lie?

The Answers:
Fear of losing face.
Fear of punishment.

Fear for their own safety.
Fear that they won't get what they want.
Lying is also an act of independence.
Lying draws a line of privacy.
Lying is perceived as a protection.
Lying is sometimes used to"protect" the parent from disappointment.
Lying is rarely personal. It's not about the parents.They don't lie to hurt you. They lie because telling the truth will have undesirable consequences.

Now there is another question to be considered:
How do we instill enough trust in our "reaction" so that our children don't feel they need the protection of a lie?


Life is complicated. Children are evolving into adulthood. They observe the world through friends, TV, and watching adults.
They can't and shouldn't isolate themselves from the world. They will have to learn how to navigate through deception.
And sometimes they need to be who they are NOT in order to learn who they ARE.

Parenting is not for wimps. 

Be the example you want them to follow.

Friday, February 09, 2018

Eulogy for Father Ernie/Dad

       Eulogy for my father. He became a Roman Catholic priest three years after our mother died.
       That makes me the son of a preacher man.
       Father Ernie died on Thanksgiving Day 2001. His funeral was held at Lady of Refuge, in Long Beach, California.  
       His grandkids had all gone up to present the communion gifts (wine and hosts) at his funeral mass.  Celeste's (our daughter) eyes were swollen and tears poured down her cheeks as she walked with the rest of the grandkids.  A huge lump was growing in my throat as I watched her crying.  So it was that I walked up to the pulpit to give the eulogy.  I fiddled with the papers until the lump in my throat subsided.
       I pulled my shoulders back, looked at the full church. "Let me preface this eulogy by stating that I am a story teller," I said to the congregation. "And I never let the facts get in the way of the truth. 
       I had begun to write our father's eulogy while on the plane down from to Seattle to Los Angeles.  I was only able to come up with snippets of memories of bygone days.  I asked my siblings to help me out and they, too, gave me more snippets of their memories of dad from bygone days.  How can I honor our father at his funeral with only snippets?  How can I condense the meaning of his life for us into a few minutes?  This was becoming a daunting task for a son who is grieving for his father.  
       It was the night before the funeral and the eulogy was not yet complete, much less meaningful.  I asked my father, as I went to sleep, to help me out.  Now, my father was a morning person, whereas the rest of the Montoyas are night people.  So, of course, my father woke me up at 5:00 am with information I did not know.  
       Many of you considered him as an angel.  And I found out that he really was an angel.  He told me (at 5am in the early morning) that he used to be an angel in heaven.  Not only that, but he was a special angel. He was an accountant angel.  One day he asked God to make him human so that he could come down here and help people and maybe even become a priest.  
       God loved our father very much, but He had some concerns about our father.  "Ernie," God said, "You are not very funny, you can't dance and you can't even sing.  Granted those are not talents that an accountant needs, but if you are going to be a priest and if you want people to listen to you, those talents are really helpful."  Accountant Angel, Ernie, was not to be discouraged.  He matter of factly replied, "You're God. Do something."
And  God did.
       God must have really loved his accountant because he gave him some very special teachers who would turn this angelic accountant into a loving and funny man. God figured that Ernie was going to need rhythm so He would turn him into a Chicano. Dad was born in Bernalillo, New Mexico to Miguel and Catalina Montoya.  
       Dad almost slipped back into becoming an accountant.  He even attended accounting classes in college.  So God quickly got him a job as a mailman.  Dad learned to art of talking and listening on his mail routes.
       Accountants tend to be very "by the rule" kind of guys, and dad was no exception.  So God gave our dad, our Uncle Mike as an older brother.  Uncle Mike taught dad that there is more to life than obeying all the rules.  There is gusto in life and sometimes you just have to go for it, even if it means breaking some of the rules.  
       But this wasn't enough.  Dad needed humor in his life and he needed it desperately.  So God gave our dad, Amy.  Now Amy means love.  And Amy married our dad and gave him love and humor.  Mom would set traps for dad to make him laugh.  She made up stories just to make him laugh.  She would hide behind doors, curtains or furniture and scare him.  Then she would laugh and laugh and he would too.  She pushed dad outside his comfort zone with new ideas.  One day, after mom finished reading a book on plants, she talked dad into going outside and threatening the lemon tree with an axe if it did not produce lemons.  Dad could never refuse mom.  He felt stupid yelling at the lemon tree.  To our delight and amazement, that lemon tree grew two huge lemons. It produced lemons year round from then on.
       But that wasn't enough.  So God gave our dad, Mushroom.  As his first child, Mushroom delighted our dad and made him laugh a lot as he learned to walk and talk and do what kids do that are so funny.  
       But that wasn't enough. So God gave our dad, Rick. Now Rick was a whirling dervish and very funny, indeed.  We would often hear dad yell. "It never fails!" as Rick would knock over a glass of milk or water.  Mom and I remembered dad's laughing as he watched 2 year old Rick move all of the front room furniture to the middle of the living room.  Rick knew no bounds and the results of his efforts to accomplish the impossible were often met with laughter.  
       But that wasn't enough. So God added John.  John is the master of physical comedy.  John could copy Dad's jesters so well.  And John would pull his stunts in the most embarrassing moments.  Dad would yell at John, 'Aye ya ya ya yai! When are you gonna grow up!?!?' Of course that was not John's role. So, to our delight, John never grew up.  Dad was talking to John, not long ago, and told John that when dad was ordained that he asked God to give him ten more years. He told John that he did not feel bad about dying because God had given dad 11 years.  At which point, John declared, 'You dummy, you should have asked for 20.'  
       But that was still not enough.
So God now added Raymond.  Raymond is the "knower of all things".  As the "knower of all things" Raymond was aware of all things that went on around the house.  (Now I don't know if this is really appropriate to say in church, but certainly God must have a sense of humor.)  One night after everyone had gone to bed, Raymond heard dad get out of bed to use the  bathroom. And then he heard mom get out of bed to use the other  bathroom. Raymond jumped at the opportunity and sneaked into mom's side of the bed before dad got out of the bathroom.  Dad climbed into bed (in the dark) and gave who he thought was mom, a love pat on the thigh.  At which point, Raymond, in his deepest voice, yelled out, 'Hey, what do you think you're doing?!?!?'  Mom heard Raymond and turned on the lights as she entered the bedroom.  She echoed Raymond with her own, 'Hey Ernie, what do you think you're doing!?!?!'  The redder dad's face turned the harder Raymond and mom laughed. 
       And still, with all of these silly boys and a clown for a wife, this was not enough.  So God pulled out his secret weapon, our sister, Mary.  Mary melted dad's heart.  She was daddy's little girl. And he was so proud of her. After mom died, it was Mary that could make dad listen to reason.  He listened to her when she ordered him to see a doctor.  He listened to her when she talked about family tensions and how to ease them.  And, in turn, Mary could never say no to dad's requests.  He would look at her with his puppy dog eyes and say to her, 'I ask so little of you.'
       And Dad learned.  How could he avoid learning with all of these special teachers that God had given him.  By the time he became a priest, he was a funny man who knew no strangers.  He talked and listened to everyone.  He never did learn to sing or dance, but he did learn the art of eating and talking.  God had his own jokes for Ernie too.  God gave dad thumbs that would rise when dad was full.  That way, dad knew when to stop eating.  We still laugh whenever we see anyone with their thumbs up in a restaurant.
       Dad, learned his lessons well and we all got to benefit from his life.  
       When Dad was dying in the hospital, I remember asking, 'Would you like a miracle?'  Dad replied, 'No, whatever is God's will is what I want.'  I pleaded, 'What if it's God's will for you to ask for a miracle? Jesus didn't go around just healing everybody. He waited to be asked.' To which he countered, 'No.  It is whatever God's will is.'  To which I re-countered, 'What if it's God's will that I ask you if you would like a miracle?'  He just said, 'It's OK, It's OK. I want to go home. I miss your mom.'  And so it is that dad is gone and we will all miss him.  You' did a good job, dad, and we are all proud of you. 
       Thank you all for listening." 

       The congregation stood up and gave a standing ovation. I had never seen that happen in a Catholic church.