Sandra’s Stories- A Mother’s Legacy

First, I want to apologize for being later than my usual Sunday posting. This week has been stressful and a heartache. Compared to most people’s struggles, it was nothing. It could be considered a small bump in the road, even an ordinary chapter of life.

My baby at the beginning of the week came down with Hand Foot Mouth Disease. This is a highly contagious virus that spreads like wildfire if its ugly case should arise. I had to take Grant and Abe to their old daycare for a morning, and I believe he picked it up there. Anyway, it causes irritated, painful sores on the sufferer’s hands, feet, and mouth. If you Google pictures, it is awful looking because it is awful.

My poor Grant, who is just one year old, started showing signs of it Monday night in an awful night of sleep. By Tuesday evening though, he was really showing signs of his pain and that night as he cried pretty nonstop until 2:30 when he finally fell into an exhausted sleep, I discovered the sores- white sores and inflamed red bumps all over the inside of his mouth.

Grant also stopped eating at this point, and my struggle began to just get fluids in him. Since he refused to eat, I could not nurse him anymore either, which I’ll confess is my go-to for everything big with him, like calming him down and getting him to sleep.

Long story short, this week has been a heartbreaking week, absolutely heartbreaking watching my baby in misery and forced weaning at the same time. I tear up even as I write because Grant is likely our last biological child we will have, and my chapter of breastfeeding (which isn’t an all-rainbows-and butterfly chapter, I might add) is at the brink of its end. Breastfeeding is seriously an emotional ride.

This need to push back my ability to sit down and write because of family and the spontaneous explosions of events and emotions that come with life goes perfectly well with what I will write about today, and that is my grandmother Sandra and her legacy(s). She is actually my grandma-in-law, but that is a mouth full, and I want to express how much I felt her very own granddaughter because that was the type of person she was. If you were her family, you felt it. She was a fierce motherly figure, and if you made it in her nest, you were under her strong wing.

When my husband and I were dating, he took me to meet his family for their family reunion. It was the first time I was meeting any of his family, and I was going to go meet his mom and ALL of his mom’s side. I was a bit nervous, to say the least.

It turned out I had nothing to be worried about because they greeted me with the warmest, most fun, welcoming arms. I was hugged, and I was loved. Again, I must emphasize this sense of family I felt was because of the type of nest I had found myself in.

I met Sandy as Angel. My husband was the first grandchild, and when he was little, for some unknown reason he started calling his grandma Angel. It stuck. Everyone started calling her Angel, and it couldn’t be more fitting. Angel was all of those sayings as a mother; she was the glue that held her family together; she was a fierce mamma bird. I don’t know any of the other sayings for a great mom/grandma/woman, but she was great.

I need to also add Angel was actually my biggest encourager in my breastfeeding struggles too. She was able to get me through my difficult start with it. Breastfeeding did not go smoothly for me with latching and supply issues, but with encouragement from a couple people, her being the biggest and most relatable model for me, I got through it and thus am able to be heartbroken at this point in my life about its end.

So, when I think of this woman, Sandra Arciniega, the first thing I think of is what an amazing, fiercely loyal mom, grandma, and great-grandma she was. She raised 5 children, being a single mom for long stretches because her husband was in the navy; that shows some of this woman’s strength right there. There is no perfect marriage or perfect family. All amazing things come with struggle. But, I look at her children and their children today, and they are all hardworking, amazing people trying to do right in this world, and that is undoubtedly seeded from her. Her legacy is her amazing family she left here on earth to spread her spirit, carry on her strength, and continue to grow and humbly search for living life as it was meant to be lived.

There is another legacy she has left with me that will actually be my topic of writing for the next week and maybe more future posts.

Sandy is a woman figure who I know will resonate with so many moms because of the sacrifices she made to be the mom she was. Buried under her legacy of family and being a mom, she has another legacy that deserves to be revealed.

Sandy, just like me and I think a lot of moms, had the internal war of personal desires and search for achievements.

See, not only was Sandy an amazing mom, but she was also a creative soul with a lot of talent. She could work with all mediums- clay, paint, writing, anything. Papa, my grandpa, brags about how Angel could use broken glass, metal scraps and wood pieces from the garage, and turn it into something beautiful.

When Angel married the love of her life, Papa, she actually declined a scholarship to an art school, so she could throw herself into being a loving, committed wife, and then mother, and then grandmother.

If I know Angel and the situation, I believe she had writing and art in her heart at all times, and she always believed that SOME DAY she would find the time to really pursue her dreams. Her priority always was family though, and personal dreams and time came after. I think I am speaking to all moms now. Aren’t we all doing this whether we are staying at home to raise our family or going to work to raise our family right? We are all putting things off thinking one day we will have the time.

When little gaps of time between family demands allowed for it, Angel did sprint out some of her passions. She has some beautiful paintings and projects she managed to finish. When all of her kids were married and out of the house, she started to go after her dream to write.

Angel registered herself in a class called the “Institute of Children’s Literature.” She took the class, but in a letter to her professor, she indicates a grandson she was taking care of. Just when she had the wind to take flight with some of her patient dreams, grandchildren started showing up in her life, and she flew immediately to them.

Angel died on August 25, 2017 leaving us all lost and in grief. When Papa was sorting through her things, he came across a binder for the literature class with all of her assignments. When he told me about this and her unrealized aspirations to write children’s books, I first had no idea that she had even wanted to write, so I was shocked. I should say I was shocked because I didn’t know, but then again, I wasn’t shocked that a woman had buried goals and dreams.

I needed to get my hands on it because I felt like I could realize her dreams for her.

It has taken me almost a year to get to this, because, well, stuff; but I have taken out Angel’s work and have started to try to make it come to life. I would like to publish some of them for Papa to have and for me to read to Abe and Grant. I started with Papa’s favorite one, and I am working on getting it into a book he can open this Christmas.

It turns out, this story called “Grandma’s Bedroom” was the third assignment in her class working on description, and together with her assignment, there was a note to her instructor making an apology for it being late. My grandma’s apology to her instructor is the perfect way to end this post to show what I have been trying to write about. I cannot say enough how connected I feel to Angel as our paths entangle, running parallel in her then struggle and my now struggle to leave a legacy as a mom.

Thanks for reading! I hope everyone has a happy Thanksgiving!

2 Comments

  1. This is sooo beautiful, Erin – not the part about your babies, but you Angel. I have no doubt she is rooting for you to realize her dream and this could be a very big reason why you even ended up in this life. It’s crazy how things can happen like that. That would be an amazing legacy you could continue for her and then do for yourself. What an amazing Angel she was and still is for all of you. I just finished making a pin on a quote from CS Lewis, “Children are not a distraction from more important work, they ARE the most important work.” It sounds like that quote would have fit her, too. So many hugs to you and I hope your boys feel better soon. xoxo

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    1. I am not sure about if I can continue her legacy to be published as she wanted to be. The writings I have from her are just from assignments, meant to fit certain requirements and rubrics. I am not sure she was quite free to even write the way she wanted to with the assignments. I have only made it through a couple of her writings in a very thick binder. I started with Papa
      a favorite.

      I cannot help but wonder what other stories she had in her head had she had full freedom to write. She was taking the first steps in realizing her dream.

      I absolutely LOVE that quote. It is so true. I think my heart and attitude is heavy when I do not remember this quote. My heart is full when I do. I think I can get selfish and want to pursue my own achievements when really my greatest achievement is my role as mom and what I am doing being present for my kids. I know Angel really embraced this. I strive to be like the mom she was and like you are. Thanks, Sandy!! So much love always your way from me. .

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