Calida and Dinah Salazar

Sunday, May 8, 2011


 Today is Mother’s Day.

Confusion and sadness initially filled my first Mother’s Day without my Mom.  Should I get flowers in her memory?  Make a donation to the church in her name?  I tried, in my small way, to celebrate the beautiful person that she was.  However it was, of course, not the same.  Since her departure from this world, I am constantly reminded that nothing is the same, and so, I create new traditions 
and expectations.  The heart of Mother’s Day is about honoring the person who carried you for so many months and continued to protect and nourish you well past birth.  I don’t need flowers or cards to do this, I choose to honor her with my actions ever day.  I honor her by being myself.  I honor her with each smile that creeps to the corners of my mouth as her image pops in my head.  I honor her by keeping her spirit alive.  So, I have discovered that this day which could feel so lonely without my mother here to hug and share our favorite Mother’s Day cinnamon rolls, is anything but lonely.  See, she is in everything I do.  This is her gift to me, the lessons and laughter to last a lifetime.  My gift to her is remembering and honoring who she was, and the person she helped me to become.

Sunday, February 20, 2011


Have you been Jobbed?  As in the biblical figure who suffered every imaginable personal catastrophe possible.  As his faith was tested, he lost his family, home, livelihood, and more.  In the end, he held on to the most important thing, his faith.  Even before my mom was diagnosed, we used to joke that we had been “Jobbed” every time something went awry, which seemed to be frequently.  For Christmas, the year before the cancer, I got her a Job action figure.  Complete with sores and tattered clothing, he certainly looked the part.  Meant to be a silly joke, he quickly became a symbol of our sense of humor and our faith.  From the time of diagnosis, Job became our constant companion, our mascot.  From radiation therapy to Disney World, Job went everywhere with us.  The long days sitting with mom in the infusion center as poison slowly attacked her cancer were made a little happier by the presence of our friend sitting on the IV cart.  He became such an uplifting conversation starter that we bought on for the infusion center.  Sitting on the counter, they affectionately named him G.I. Job.  Job has remained a symbol of faith and the ability to find the silly in most any situation.  He sits on my desk and makes me smile, as he did through many trying times.  If Job survived everything that was thrown at him, then I certainly can!

Tuesday, December 28, 2010


December 2006 we found ourselves back at Maine Medical Center. Having developed an infection in her liver, Mom was in for an extended stay.  One week turned into two and although she felt better each day, her doctors did not feel good about sending her home.  So we made the best of it.  Reclining in the hospital sleeper chairs we would set up our portable Dvd player, watch White Christmas and talk about the Christmas pageant I was preparing for.  As Sunday School teacher I had been struggling to spend time caring for my mom and getting everything ready for the much anticipated annual event.  I would often bring costumes to the hospital to make alterations and embellishments.  I had delicately fastened a feather boa around the collar of my high school graduation gown for the Angel Gabriel’s costume and put it on to get my mothers opinion.  She smiled and complimented my work, then begged me to put on the rest of the outfit.  Relenting I placed the glittering vine crown on my head and slid my arms through the elastic straps of the wings.  Bright as ever, a smile spread across her face, “It looks wonderful!”  She decided then and there that she would be at the church that weekend.  I stood at the end of her hospital bed feeling a little silly, but glad that I could lift my mother’s spirits. In the end, she lifted mine.  With her usual sense of humor, she said, “Could you get me some ginger ale, but take that off first.  If anyone sees you walking around here [the oncology floor] like that they’re going to think you are here to get them.”  She did make it home that Saturday after making it clear to her oncologist that she would not be spending Christmas in the hospital.  Each year that we continue to reenact the story of the birth of Jesus, I am reminded of that Christmas with Dinah, and how despite what could be looked at as an imperfect holiday season produced some of my happiest memories.  

Wednesday, November 24, 2010


There are many things to give thanks for.  Finally feeling better after a bout with the flu, strep throat, and a chest cold, is currently number one on my list!  Thankfulness is the number one lesson learned from my mother's illness.  Thankfulness for time, memories, laughter, and family.  Thanksgiving 2007, I spent the day cooking my first Thanksgiving dinner for my uncle, brother, and mother.  We gathered in the living room where my mother's bed was, set the table there, and shared our meal.  It was quiet and left me feeling immensely grateful for the experience.  My mother lost her battle with cancer early the next morning and I couldn't help but think that Thanksgiving was the most appropriate time for this to happen.  Each year I find myself not being sad, instead, I feel my spirit fill with gratitude for the privilege of being part of her life.  This is the link to the slide show played at the celebration of her life.  I find it uplifting to reflect on her life and all of the happy moments captured in these photographs.  Please enjoy, and have a Happy Thanksgiving filled with your own moments of thankfulness.

Monday, September 6, 2010


My mother was a veteran of the United States Air Force.  That is where she met my father who also served.  I remember learning this fact as a child. My first thought was, “wait, what do you mean she was in the Air Force, she’s my mom.”  A stay at home mom for my whole life, I guess I thought that is what she had always done.  The next thought was how cool that made her.  My parents had the strong work ethic and desire to help others that led them both to serve.  I watched my brother join the Marines, and was never  more proud of him.  Two years later, with the same desire to help others and to be part of something bigger, I joined the Air Force as my parents had.  It was ten years ago today that I arrived at basic military training.  Each day was a struggle, but more powerful than the physical exhaustion and pain was the immense sense of connection I felt.  To be doing push ups and practicing drills where my parents had felt sacred.  We are a family of veterans, we all have an understanding of what that life is like.  Each time I place my hand on my heart for the National Anthem I feel honored to be part of that tradition, and I feel closer to my family.  We are not only connected in blood, but also in service.

Sunday, August 29, 2010


28 years ago today I came into this world, and apparently I have been talking ever since.  At least that’s what my mom always said.  A few years ago I was looking through my rather sparse baby book and noticed that “everything” was scribbled in under the category of first word.  When I asked my mother what that meant she said from the moment I was born I was talking and I said everything.  Adorable as that explanation may be, I think it more likely that she forgot to write it down.  I am the second child after all, there are no empty spaces in my brother’s baby book.  That’s okay though,  while my first word may not be recorded, all the rest are.  While unearthing the relics of my youth, I also came across my dictionary.  Yes, MY, dictionary.  Not the traditional Webster’s, rather Calida’s, filled with my invented words.  Here is a selection of my favorite terms:
 Floop (v) - To hurt someone’s feelings. (ex)  You flooped me when you called me names.
Operations (n) - Uncooked corn kernals. (ex) Put the operations in the boiling water to cook for dinner.
Glitter (n) - Litter, trash in the streets. (yes I know this one is kind of obvious, but the world would be so much sparklier if it were glitter)

I have no idea where these words came from, considering they emerged from my vocabulary before the age of five, I am guessing my imaginary friend Anarinnah may have been the source.  So it doesn't really matter where the words came from or which came first.  She always encouraged me to think and live expressively, and for that I am grateful.  Thanks Umma!

Wednesday, August 25, 2010


Preparing to go to the VA hospital for an endoscopy on Monday, I slipped on a pair of hot pink socks with squirrels on them.  Something I was not looking forward to, I thought if I had to go through this, I was doing it with happy socks on.  When my mother was about a month into her treatment she underwent a procedure to implant a port which would allow for direct intravenous access for her medication.  This was one of the first of many procedures and time spent in hospitals.  The night before, I was giving her a pedicure.  Feeling like there was little I could do for her, this simple act made me feel like I was doing something to make her day a little better.  So when the time came to paint her toenails I suggested a bright pink shade called “All Rose Lead To Rome.”  She balked at the suggestion and initially refused, “no one will see it”, I argued.  In the end she relented and I carefully painted each nail with the electric hue.  You couldn’t help but smile at those hot pink toenails.  The next day in same day surgery the nurse came over to help mom get ready, “socks need to come off” she gently ordered.  Mom gave me a “you have got to be kidding me” look.  With a little laugh I slipped her socks off revealing her fancy feet, to which she received rave reviews!  That morning could have been somber, just another reminder of the realities of our new life, but instead it was a morning filled with laughter, smiles, and even a few compliments.  One lesson learned through that doesn’t matter what you are going through, there is a way to find humor, there are still opportunities to be happy, even in the face of something scary.  I remembered this as I was wheeled into the procedure room with my hot pink socks peeking from under the sheets, “those are happy socks”, remarked one nurse.  Yes they are!