When I Grow Up …

 

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She believed there were only pros to fusing things together

the bricks to build her house

the quilts to keep her grandchildren warm

the neighbors at the parties she threw

She was a pro at fusing things.

Nothing came apart.

Nothing tore.

Nothing fell.

No one was left out.

And all because she was generous with her love,

plentiful in her resources,

abounding with energy.

In all these things, she was profuse

never lacking

seldom flawed

and never felt defective.

In her wrinkled, aging hands

she held the world together.

I want to be like her when I grow up.

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via Profuse

 

The Truth Bites Like a Ratt’ler

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Dad’s ignoring me as usual, but I guess that’s better than a slap on my face. Mother dries off the breakfast skillet, picks up a fussy Delma, and says, “Cono, yer goin’ te town this weekend te sleep over at Mamaw’s.”

“How come?” I ask.

“Aunt Marguerite and Aunt Eva are there. They wanna see ye.”

Well, I can see all the way down to the truth, and it feels like I’ve swallered a ratt’ler. Dad’s still mad that I’d bitten that toothbrush in two and doesn’t want me around. I don’t want to be around him either.

Still, I don’t want to go. I like Dad’s sisters well enough, but I want to stay here with baby Delma.

Mamaw, Dad’s mother, is the toughest grandma I know. It would be a whole lot easier if I just ran away and caught a train to somewhere else. As I sit on that idea like a chicken warming her eggs. I decide against it. Everybody says that the trains are filled with starving hobos on their way to California. They say they like to eat children under the age of twelve. I’m afraid they’d eat me too even though I’m little and skinny.

I guess I have to go.

 

Excerpt from No Hill for a Stepper

 

via Age

photo credit

Proceed with Caution

Always pay attention to your surroundings,” Dad always told my sister and I.

Perhaps he said this because he grew up in West Texas during the Depression  – a place and time with caution at every turn of a dirt road.

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(Dad on right)

And, perhaps he remembered this piece of advice from his stint as one of the original deputies for the county Sheriff’s Department.

(I do remember, though, that toward the end of his life, he stopped needing the advantage point of sitting with his back up against a wall.)

Perhaps Dad was covering his ass – literally.

His maternal grandfather, my great- grandfather, used to tell him”

“Always pay attention ta what’s around ya. ‘Cuz if ya don’t, something’ll come up and bite ya on the butt.” 

And perhaps, my great-grandfather said this because he himself didn’t have any teeth.

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via Bite

The Way of Things

I remember this, my last conversation with Papa.

He, trying to alleviate our pain.

But I heard, through his bravado

the saddened beat of my heart

submerged in deep water

no knowledge of how to stay afloat

grief no words could express

He said,

“Remember the sandhill crane?”

How could I forget?

Long necks

the sound of their rattle calls  

broad wings flying over

ancestral farmland

He said,

“She’s like the hourglass that drips the sand of time

replenishes herself by picking leftovers from the field

She keeps moving forward.

She never stops.

She is you

and she is me.

Our fields, too deep to forget

Too vast to go away.

I will never truly leave you” 

“Is this the way of things, Papa?”

 “Ja, mein liebes.” 

“It is,” he smiled.

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Prose adapted from my novel, “Naked, She Lies

Photo credit

Express

No Longer Can I Fill these Shoes

No longer can I fill these shoes.

Yet I remember a time

when the patent leather formed neatly around my feet

soft, worn, comfortable

Soles carefree and made of ease

durable for playing chase and hide and seek

or freeze tag in the dark

the lining soft enough for catching fireflies

and my parents goodnight kisses

The tips firm, protecting toes that so easily stumbled.

The heels perfectly made for scuffling

for dragging my feet when it suited

Shoes, easy to pull off for bedtime stories

and tuck-me-in time.

 

No longer do they fit, those shoes

Yet, it matters not.

I have merely grown into a larger size

the soul intact.

 

My Art 050 (1)

 

art by C. Dennis-Willingham

Grandma’s Slice of Idiom Advice

If you can’t get back on the horse

– -well, you can, of course

If you can’t find your way home

you’re not alone

If you can’t lead the horse to water

then, dear granddaughter,

forget about the nag.

‘Cause if you can’t get to the cookie,

eat through the bag!

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and if you bite off more than you can chew

don’t worry, you’ll pull through

Let sleeping dogs lie

and you’ll be fine

‘Cause your guess is as good as mine.

 

 

The “Feeling” of Flavor

Flavorful is not the chip in front of me.

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It is seeing the knowledge in my great-grandmother’s eyes as she looks down

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It is the power of her fingers holding up my whole arm

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It is knowing that, in touching her hand, I feel a lifetime of experiences

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It is the insightfulness I discover when she speaks to me

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It is the feel of a tongue that speaks words of wisdom

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Flavorful is the kiss from her lips that says, “I love you.”

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Compared to these things, the chip has no flavor at all.

 

Daily word prompt: Flavorful

 

What does it mean to educate?

It means having a sister like mine. Words cannot express how proud I am of her. Pat has forever changed the lives of so many people including the ones who struggled and fought to be the first in their families to receive a higher education. Well done, “Dr. Witherspoon.” Well done.

Love always,

Your baby sister

P.S. Thank you for reading to me when I was little.

 

reference for following article:

Liberal Arts Dean Patricia Witherspoon Retires

Last Updated on August 30, 2017 at 4:15 PM

Originally published August 30, 2017

By Laura L. Acosta

UTEP Communications

 

When Javier Aguilar-Garcia met Patricia Witherspoon, Ph.D., nearly four years ago, he was wandering the halls of the Liberal Arts Building searching for a University 1301 class.

UTEP College of Liberal Arts Dean Patricia Witherspoon, Ph.D., (right) retired in August after 17 years at UTEP. Witherspoon and UTEP President Diana Natalicio (left) hold a caricature of Witherspoon by Nacho L. Garcia. Photo by UTEP News Staff

(UTEP College of Liberal Arts Dean Patricia Witherspoon, Ph.D., right, retired in August after 17 years at UTEP. Witherspoon and UTEP President Diana Natalicio, left, hold a caricature of Witherspoon by Nacho L. Garcia. Photo: Ivan Pierre Aguirre / UTEP Communications.)

As a freshman at The University of Texas at El Paso, Aguilar-Garcia was still finding his way around campus. At the time, the first-generation college student had no clue that Witherspoon, the passerby he stopped to ask for help, was the dean of the UTEP College of Liberal Arts (COLA). She smiled warmly and directed him down the hall.

Their paths would cross again a couple of years later when Aguilar-Garcia served as a COLA ambassador under Witherspoon. For two years, Aguilar assisted the dean at events, such as the college’s Pre-Commencement Awards and Hooding Ceremony.

While the Juárez native no longer needed directions to class, he began looking to Witherspoon for guidance about his future.

“What I learned from Dr. Witherspoon would take hours for me to say,” said Aguilar-Garcia, a multimedia journalism major who expects to graduate in December 2017. “I learned the value of hard work, to always be true to myself, and to not be afraid to think outside the box. She knows there is something special in each of us.”

Aguilar-Garcia was among the many students Witherspoon mentored over the past 17 years at UTEP. She retired from the University in August 2017 after a 36-year career in higher education.

“I came to UTEP for the students,” said Witherspoon, who led COLA since 2011. “I was impressed by these students who will do so much to get an education, and who understand so well that an education transforms not only an individual but a family.”

Witherspoon joined UTEP in the fall of 2000 as chair of the Department of Communication.

During the Dean’s Legacy Lecture this spring, Witherspoon recalled that shortly before she started her new job, her oldest son, Terry, told her that the people at UTEP really wanted her to come to the University, and she better not let them down.

Looking back, she said, “I hope I didn’t.”

At UTEP, Witherspoon hit the ground running. In 2002, she established the Sam Donaldson Center for Communication Studies, which provides academic enrichment for communication majors, communication programs to high school students, and continuing education and training for media and communication professionals.

The center’s inaugural event, “An Evening with Sam Donaldson,” in 2003 attracted top journalists, including Dan Rather, Helen Thomas, George Will and Ted Koppel, White House press secretaries and major news stations. The event raised more than $100,000 for the center’s endowment.

“That was a wonderful evening to remember and to honor Sam Donaldson, but it was also wonderful to see (these journalists) come out and hear about UTEP,” Witherspoon recalled.

In August 2008, Witherspoon was named dean of the University’s Graduate School. She held that position until 2010, when she became acting dean of COLA, UTEP’s largest and most varied college with nearly 7,000 students. A year later, she was appointed the college’s dean.

“There are lots of programs, lots of departments, lots of students, not enough faculty, and not enough staff,” Witherspoon said. “That is the beauty of the College of Liberal Arts; there is so much diversity here with the arts, the humanities and the social sciences.”

UTEP Senior Executive Vice President Howard Daudistel, Ph.D., was the college’s dean before Witherspoon. He said that under Witherspoon’s “extraordinary leadership,” the college strengthened its many student success initiatives and strived to continuously improve all of its academic programs.

“Dr. Witherspoon was a vigorous advocate for the many diverse departments and programs in the college and worked hard to recruit the highest quality faculty to support these programs,” Daudistel said. “Always attentive to student needs, Dr. Witherspoon was deeply committed to UTEP’s access and excellence mission while also supporting a diverse faculty of outstanding teachers, extraordinary scholars, researchers and artists.”

During her tenure, Witherspoon worked with faculty to develop forward-thinking programs that would foster student achievement. Among them was the Student Success Initiative in 2014, which provides tutoring and programs that support student academic development, and the Liberal Arts Honors Program (LAHP) in 2012, which offers academic enrichment opportunities to top undergraduate liberal arts students.

Witherspoon said the LAHP has exceeded her expectations.

“Many of our LAHP students go on to graduate school or law school and have wonderful internships in other parts of the country,” she said. “They’re just outstanding.”

Witherspoon credits much of her success to the college’s outstanding faculty and dedicated staff who she said made her look good, even on those days when she did not deserve it.

“It almost never felt like work,” she said with a laugh. Despite her many accomplishments, Witherspoon is most proud of watching students succeed. Her favorite time of year was celebrating the achievements of liberal arts students at UTEP’s spring and winter Commencement ceremonies. From the stage in the Don Haskins Center, Witherspoon would watch as wave after wave of liberal arts graduates walked into the arena, ready to make their mark on the world.

In retirement, Witherspoon plans to spend time with family and stay involved with the University. She may help raise funds for COLA’s 50th Anniversary fund or teach an online undergraduate course in communication and organizational leadership.

Other projects include writing a book on the effect of culture on leadership, focusing on Mexican-American and Latino influences.

“I feel very proud and very gratified of having been a part of this campus during the last 17 years,” Witherspoon said. “The last 17 years has been a time of tremendous change and great growth, not only in numbers but in stature.”

Daily prompt: Educate