Wednesday, August 30, 2017

1973 Singapore Letter

Click on the link to see a letter I wrote in 1973 about my time in Singapore while we were taking a break from the Viet Nam war.

I Dream of Being and Discovering Who I Really Am

     When I was in the fourth grade I wanted to be a Catholic priest, or an architect, or a dentist.  I spent 4 years in a Catholic seminary and decided that I need to be a different kind of father. And I learned many things
     During the Viet Nam war, I learned to stand up to fear. I led an anti-war demonstration on my second tour in Viet Nam as our ship returned to fight in Viet Nam. 
     When I returned from the Viet Nam war, I attended Long Beach City College and earned my AA in art. And then I pursued my previous dream and attended the University of New Mexico where I earned my degree in architecture. I was an architect for 30 years. I designed the country’s largest sleep laboratory at the VA in Long Beach. I designed courtrooms, judge’s chambers, dining facilities, office buildings and more.
     I never really dreamed of being a writer, although my first declared major was English. I wanted to tell my Viet Nam story to my sister-in-law, (she has a degree in English) and have her write a book.
     What I have learned in following my dreams is that when reality hits, dreams change. When you have a family to provide for, when your children get sick, and when they die, your dream changes. Your world view changes. And new dreams are born.
     I never dreamed that I would become a public speaker and advocate for organ donation. I used to be terrified of speaking in front of people. I never imagined that my message could compel grown men to cry.
     I never dreamed that I would follow in my great grandfather’s footsteps and become a shaman. I still have so much to learn. What I have learned is that I can’t say, “Oh that can’t be real!” Our world “vibrates” on so many frequencies. We have far more power and potential than what we have told ourselves.
     My dream is to be grateful for all of my experiences, for they have all played their part in helping me evolve into the person I am today. My dream is to write well and often, while following the advice of Clam Spirit: put a pearl in every chapter.
     I had my DNA analyzed and discovered that my ancestors are far more diverse than I thought. I have a dream to travel to all the countries where I have ancestors. I’ve been to Senegal. I’ve been to Western Siberia, and the Far East: Japan, Korean, China, Viet Nam, Cambodia, Thailand and Singapore. I’ve been to Germany and France. I need to go to Spain, Italy, Greece, North Africa, Ireland.
     I circumnavigated the globe when I was a sailor aboard the USS Trippe. I wrote Viet Nam Body Count about my first three months in Viet Nam about that ship.  When we got kicked out of Viet Nam, we I sailed all around the world.
     I want to find out what Native American tribes my ancestors are from and learn what I can about those specific tribes.  I know that my Native ancestor come from New Mexico. I was born there and whenever I visit, my body is happy.
     Each year, I strive to do something new, something I haven’t done, and learn something new. 
     Each year I want to contribute in some way to the betterment of Mother Earth and her children. 
     Every day, I dream of being a blessing.

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Our 43rd Anniversary Is August 31st

     During my parents’ 25th wedding anniversary party on June 2, 1973, one of our neighbors, Mrs. Ditzler and I chatted about my being the Navy, the Viet Nam war, and her family. When I told her that I didn’t know who Denise was, she told me to stay put. She left momentarily. I watched her from the front door of our house as she returned with her eldest daughter, Denise. Denise wore a tiny blue mini-skirt that showed off her long beautiful legs. Her bright blue eyes captured me as she walked into the house..

     As the party wound down, I asked Denise if she would like to go for a walk to the park. We held hands as we walked around the duck pond. We found ourselves standing under a tree. I leaned in and gave her kiss.  

     Soon after Denise and I met, she invited me over to her apartment for dinner.  She asked me to follow her to her apartment in Seal Beach.  While waiting for the traffic light at the intersection of 2nd Street and Pacific Coast Highway, I noticed a young man selling roses.  I tried to get his attention.  Since I was on a motorcycle, he appeared to be ignoring me.  When I finally succeeded in getting him to talk to me, I told him that I wanted to buy some roses for my girlfriend.  He asked, “How are you going to carry the roses?”  “I’m not.” I replied with a smile.  “I want you to give the roses to that woman in the car in front of me.”  There was a minivan full of young girls who squealed with excitement as they grinned from ear to ear while watching the encounter.

     On August 31st Denise and I will have completed 43 years of wedded bliss. And it has been mostly blissful. What is our secret? We never stopped playing with each other. And we apologize when we screw up.
      When we married, we became “one.” Therefore what I do to her I do to myself.  I love her.

Monday, August 28, 2017

Moving to Salt Lake City at age 7

     A light snow fell as my father drove our 1948 Chevy from Albuquerque to Salt Lake City.  The windshield wipers swished the snow back and forth. I was mesmerized watching the snow fly at us. The wipers pushed the snowflakes from side to side. My little brother, Ricky, and I played with little cars in the back.  My mother held our youngest brother, John, in her lap. After what seemed like hours, I stood up and crawled onto the shelf behind the back seats, laid down and stared at the gray sky. I enjoyed the soft massage of the road on my back.
     My father parked the car behind my grandparent’s house, next to the coal chute as the sun’s glow disappeared. I got out of the car and ran up the long wooden stairway into the kitchen. The aromas of red chili, freshly made four tortillas and coffee filled the air. My grandfather picked me up and gave me a big hug while rubbing his prickly cheeks against mine. He put me down and hugged my mother. My young aunts and uncles crowded into the kitchen to hug my mother and to look at us. 
     My aunt Lourdes (19 years old) took me down into the basement to her bedroom next to the big black coal fired boiler. It had black pipes that made it look like an octopus that was feeling the ceiling looking for an opening through which to grab someone.Lourdes told me that I would be sleeping with her that night. She pulled out the white chamber pot from under her bed and told me I could use it if I needed to pee in the night.
     The day after Christmas, my parents drove to California. They left me behind. I held onto my grandmother's hand as I watched my family drive away. I went from being the oldest of three children in my family to being the youngest of six in my grandparent’s house. I did not address my aunts and uncles with their proper title because they were so close to my own age. I was seven, Lola was eight and Manuel was nine. Anslemo was eleven and to me Florinda was almost an adult at age 12.
     Manuel He had the biggest comic collection I’d ever seen. And he had a ton of marbles. He had cat eyes, and big steelees. He taught me how to shoot the marbles with my thumb. He was a good shooter. 
     Grant elementary school was right across the street from my grandparent’s house. Lola walked with me to my new 2nd grade classroom and introduced me to Mrs. Johnson. When class started Mrs. Johnson introduced me as the most handsome boy she’s ever seen. That was not a good thing. At the first recess, Cecilia and Marcella chased me, knocked me down in the snow and kissed me. I was so embarrassed.

Sunday, August 27, 2017

Transplant Recipient International Organization Baseball Game

Playing Baseball with Spare Parts

Denise and I received an invitation from the Seattle chapter of the Transplant Recipient International Organization to attend and participate in a baseball game/picnic with transplant recipients. Wow! I wasn’t sure how I could participate other than to bring food for the picnic. When Denise and I walked from our car to the yellow wooden picnic area canopy, we were greeted by a kidney recipient, Muff and a heart recipient, David. They both beamed broad smiles as they opened their arms to hug us. They led us to the picnic tables and then David called everyone’s attention. He introduced us as Donor Parents. Everyone stood up and clapped their appreciation. David invited everyone to eat and get to know each other.
When most of us were through eating, David asked for a show of hands from those who had received lifesaving body parts. He then identified the teams. The heart and livers would play the kidneys, lungs and everyone else. Denise and I were told that we could be on any team since our son had donated everything. Denise and I played on the Kidney team since they had the fewest number of players.
I was the pitcher for the kidney and lung team. When it was our teams time at bat, we gathered in the dugout. I listened to the tragic stories that were turned around by generous persons who donated their organs. One of the kidney recipients laughed about how he hated broccoli and now that he has a new kidney he loves the vegetable. He wondered if his donor loved broccoli. I asked a 50 year old heart recipient who received a 20 year old heart if he got excited when he saw young 20 year old women. He grinned and then his wife hit him on the back of the head as she said, “That’s why he lost his first heart.” We all laughed. I don’t remember which team won the baseball game. It didn’t matter. We laughed and got to know each other in the most intimate way.

My heart is happy knowing that our son’s organs not only extended life for the recipients, they also enhanced the lives of those related to the recipients in some way.
That is yet another reason why Denise and I have been organ and tissue donor advocates.

Friday, August 25, 2017

Dusty Tiger Mountain Road

When I open my eyes 
and take a breath 
to see what is before me, 
my world opens,
and I am filled with awe.

Blessing Manifesto

Mushroom Montoya’s Blessing Manifesto

I am a blessing. What I repeat often after I say, “I am,” I manifest into my life. Good coaches tell their charges to tell themselves that they are winners. I am my own coach at this stage of my life. I am a blessing and I will be a blessing upon the earth. I have lived well. I have experienced much that is delightful. I have been blessed with wonderful people who have taught me much. I share what I have learned from others and from my own life experiences.

Even the most horrific of tragedies have taught me much. There is a lesson to be learned or a blessing to be garnered from every experience regardless of how painful it is at the moment. My son’s death brought me unexpected gifts, in terms of what I see as important in my life.

The biggest lesson for me has been the importance and significance of gratitude. I am grateful that I am still alive and I can still contribute to the wellbeing and joy of others. I can continue to be a blessing not only to others, but to myself, as well. 

I have learned that we all expose our energy fields beyond our bodies. We touch others with our energy field. My thoughts and emotions affect my energy field. When I start each day by saying out loud, “I am a blessing.” I start the process to make it so. When people approach me, they feel welcome. They smile. They respond to my “blessing” energy. I don’t need to say anything. I can just be. Be a blessing. 

I enhance my ability to be a blessing by expressing my gratitude each morning. I express my gratitude to the Creator of all things and request the Creator’s help in my being a blessing. I thank the air for all if its gifts: my life, my ability to exercise, my ability to listen and talk. I ask the air to help my words be blessing words, kind words, loving words, and healing words. 

I thank the sun for its warmth, its light, its energy and its radiation. I ask it to help me be an illuminator and a blessing. 

I thank all my relations, the plants, the animals, the minerals and my body parts. I thank the water and my water relations, the fish, the dolphins, the clams, the otters the seaweed. I thank them for their gifts and ask them to help me be fluid and flexible. 

I thank the fire in all its forms for its gifts. I ask the fire to fire me up with energy so that I may have the strength to be a blessing. 

I thank the sky for bringing the sun, the moon and the stars,  I thank the birds and the bees for pollinating and spreading seeds. I thank the clouds for bring the rain, the snow and for feeding Mother Earth. 

I thank Mother Earth for birthing me into life and for her beauty. I ask her to help me be a blessing for her and all of her children. 

Lastly, I express my gratitude to my truest self and ask that I continue to be a blessing.