Tuesday, July 25, 2017

For Sophia Dominguez-Heithoff

 July 25, 2017

Dear Sophia,

Like so many of the minions of your followers, I feel I know you through you parents & extended family (especially tu padrino Juan Rangel).

Over the years, we have watched you blossom from a little girl who thought Kate Middleton's dress was not grand enough for a royal wedding, into a full-fledged fashion icon & model.

And, more importantly, into a lovely, bright, talented & focused young woman of intense faith & purpose.

On this day, celebrating your early graduation from high school & wishing you well for the upcoming Miss Teen USA competition, your mother asked us to give you words of advice.  

So, my advice, after sixty plus years, is simple.

Be yourself, be true to that self & to the text you are writing for your life.  Remember the core of who you are, who & what shaped you, what makes you uniquely Sophia.

My favorite picture from your quinceaƱera.  

Although you are not quite eighteen, you are embarking on a very grown up & adult adventure.  Whatever happens on the 29th - your adventure will begin & continue to evolve.  College or a year as Miss Teen USA or both.

It is your adventure, your story, your text,  Write it well.

With every confidence in you, I send you my most sincere & best wishes for the writing of your text, Sophia Julieta Dominguez-Heithoff.  

I look forward to reading it.

One of your minions & an avid reader,

Jaki Jean 

(Disclaimer:  Sophia, my text here differs slightly from what I wrote you to in the missive I snail-mailed.   Writers always reserve the right to edit, edit, edit.)

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Listening to my sister's voice . . .

After years of dropping hints, asking for help in lieu of presents, I managed, with the advice of a Wal-Mart employee, to find what I needed to hook my computer up to my mother Jean’s TV.

Before you instantly disparage Wal-Mart employees, please read on.

I went to the WM in search of a HDMI cable to enable me to link my Netflix account to my mother’s TV & to hopefully watch a live broadcast of Sugar Creek Baptist Church every Sunday morning.

Sugar Creek has an extensive ministry to members who are no longer able to attend services.  Each week, we receive a CD with a recording of the Sunday service – the sermon, not the worship portion of the service.

For both Jean & I – Jean the Church of Christ convert & myself the wayward Baptist – the worship portion – the music – is core, essential to experiencing a service.

That, & Jean soon wearies of listening to the sermon & falls into her napping state.

So, technologically challenged soul I am, I knew it was possible to connect my computer to Jean’s TV.  Unable to convince my IT guru (aka as Alpha Son) that I needed his help, I researched.

And went to the local Wal-Mart.

After perusing the cables, I reluctantly chose one that was more expensive than my budget.  As I was pondering my proposed purchase, a voice next to me said:

Could I help you with something?

The body belonging to the voice was tall & lanky, really thin & pale & fit my preconceived idea of a true & trusted computer guru in the making.

So I replied:

I suppose that I did look a wee bit trepidacious about my choice.

The WM associate’s reply was priceless:

Actually, Mam, I sensed you appeared a bit uncertain.  What is it that you need?

So I told the future IT guru in the making what I needed.  He informed me thatI chose a really, really fine cable – an expensive cable.  Then he pulled a much less expensive choice & assured me that it would accomplish the same goal.

And that much less expensive choice has transformed the options open to Jean & to me when our standard cable choices become repetitive.

And this past Sunday, after consulting with my brother in law David, we were able to watch a live broadcast of a Sunday morning service at Sugar Creek Baptist.

And watch & hear my sister Janet sing.

Listening, I could not immediately remember the last time I heard my sister sing.  I remember listening to her in grade school choir performances.  And in choir at our church in El Paso. 

And how her voice, her text, was discernible among all the voices.

I think the last time I heard my sister sing was before she & her husband joined Sugar Creek Baptist.  They were active in a small congregation & I went with my mother & her beau Bill to a service.

Janet sang a solo.

Via Dolorosa.

I remember the lyrics, in English & Spanish, although I had to ask her to verify the title. 

Either language -  I heard her voice, her text.

Where my sister’s gift for music & musical expression came, I cannot say.  Our youngest brother has the same gift.  We share the same DNA, but the mix left us with very different gifts & talents.

Music was, & remains, central to my being.  I grew up with music during worship services, with music in Jack & Jean’s home, with music on the radio & ingrained in my soul.

I cannot sing.  I desperately, but not quite desperately enough, wanted to play the piano.

My voice, my text, comes from a different place.

But I hear.  I hear when someone sings in the center of the note.  Even when my initial concentration is on the lyrics, I hear.

I heard my sister’s voice, above all the others in the praise group on last Sunday’s service. 

It was not the first voice I heard this past Sunday – but, for me, it was the most important voice & text on the stage.

And hearing my sister's voice, I wept.

When I regained some semblance of self control, I looked at Jean when Janet’s face came across the screen & asked her if she, too, heard Janet’s voice.

Jean smiled & said, yes, always.

Hearing my sister’s voice, the voice I know so well, the voice that talks with me, shares with me, reasons with me, sometimes chastises me, often challenges me, argues with me & the voice that supports me in our journey with Jean, reminded me of who I am at the core.

My sister’s voice, her text, is different than mine & we express our texts in different ways.  Her way, her gift, overwhelms & humbles me.  I cherish those differences. 

So ,I am looking forward to next week’s broadcast. . . and listening to my sister’s voice.