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My name is Dominique P. My last name means “little Easter”, my middle name means “God is my judge” and my first name means “lord”. Lots of religion. There was probably some expectation hidden in my name, probably a little hint of what I should focus on in my life. I come from a Catholic family where some of us are religious and some aren’t. The most religious person in my family, in my opinion, is my Mom Mom. She never fails to miss a Sunday of church. Under her influence, I think, was my dad sending me to CCD for the first time in my life. There I was, a little, shy second-grader, standing in a room of kids who had already been there for two years. They already knew about God, and I was certainly one who hated going to church. I quickly found a seat in the back of the room, sitting alone and smiling faintly and nodding when someone talked to me. I wasn’t exactly the most energetic person in the world, but I showed up. That’s what counts right? No, that’s not what counts. Family is what counts. My family is not only the main reason I went to CCD, but also the main reason for every choice and step I make in life. They have taught me everything and they’ve always been as loving and caring as anyone could be. They are going to continue to be this way throughout my whole life and alive or passed, I know they’re there for me. My family has taught me all the words I live by and all the examples I should follow, including being a Catholic. I want to pay tribute to them in this short literary piece and I hope it shows how much I currently and will love and care for them, forever.
“Mr. Dolomite, I’m gonna ski you someday!” said my little four year old voice behind the picture of me in my pink coat and cheetah-print-fur-lined hat. That picture is hanging in a special frame in my Mom Mom’s living room. That picture and segment of childhood is among a collage of many others in a brass frame. The frame it’s nestled in has a feature that allows you to record sound and by the press of a button, let the picture speak. And that’s exactly what we did with my picture in Italy: post-Dolomite.
My family and I were on vacation in Italy one year for skiing. It was my first year learning to ski, and what better way than to do it in Italy. All the fresh powder, the Italian spaghetti, the quaint towns, and the Dolomite Mountains were around me when I learned how to ski for the very first time. I did all the little kiddy trails that week and exhausted my love for ski school. I probably liked it at first, but by the end of the week I did not want to go. I wanted to ski with mommy and daddy, not the Italian instructor. I cried and cried on the last day, and mommy finally gave in. I went with her and my dad on the easy runs (on a leash mind you) and went down into the beautiful town after the day concluded. Being a Daddy’s girl, I walked alongside my dad as he tried to squeeze information out of me about ski school.
“Did you like skiing?” “Yes Daddy!” “Nique, do you see those big mountains up there?” he said pointing to the Dolomite Mountains behind us. “Yeah.” “Those are the Doh-loh-meetee Mountains. Someday, you’re gonna be big enough to go up there and ski!” he said as he pointed to the rocks, cliffs, and other places skiers aren’t allowed. “Yeah! I’m gonna ski Mr. Dolomite!” I said looking up at the intimidating mountains I had just skied on that day (even though I didn’t know it). That moment encouraged a picture with the beautiful scenery in the background. That is the picture hanging in my Mom Mom’s frame. We also took a video that day of me telling Mr. Dolomite that I would ski him someday. That proud little four-year-old voice is secluded behind the frame just waiting to be set free by the push of a button. Another thing that can easily be set free is courage, it may take time to build it up, but as long as you have others to help you, it is easy to bring it out.
My dad told me I could ski those huge mountains some day and that instilled a lot of courage and hope in my mind. My dad and the rest of my family act as building blocks for me in the sense that they tell me I can do whatever I want if I work for it. They tell me that there’s always hope and you should always aspire to accomplish. That’s exactly what I did in Italy that year, I aspired to ski a big mountain and be independent from ski school. Now, I ski every year on big mountains all around the world independently. I was told to aspire to accomplish and that’s exactly what I did.
I will always hold that phrase in my mind throughout my life and know that what I hope for is going to put me on the track for good or bad. I can thank my family for being the ones to teach me that and also the fact that you need hope for everything you do.
When I was little, I was really close with my Pop Pop (my grandfather on my dad’s side). My family and I always went over his house and as the adults talked and cooked dinner, he taught me how to play the card game Rummy. When I look back, I see that even though Rummy was just a game to me then, now it represents time with my Pop Pop. I don’t have him around anymore so it’s such a huge comfort to remember him as a friendly and joyous person.
I was so little when he was here with me so I can barely remember the stories that go along with him, but I still picture sitting in the light wood chair with bars of wood stretching from the smooth top to the floral cushioned seat. The table had four of those chairs carefully placed around the oval shape. My Pop Pop sat at the end closest to the wall opposite the grandfather clock, and I sat on the side near the living room. Every 30 minutes, the grandfather clock would chime and we would start a new game, repeating the routine over and over until dinner was ready. We played so many games with the worn-out, red cards, and conveniently I would win every time. After a good five games of Rummy, which progressively got harder and longer over the years, we would go sit in the dining room with everyone else and have a classic Italian dinner to represent our roots. My sister and I had grape juice in wine glasses with our pasta and the adults always had pasta, gravy, meat, and wine. We held this tradition for a while, but then my Pop Pop got sick. His kidneys failed and he was in the hospital. Kidney problems are common in my family, and this problem was expected considering he already had had a transplant. My Pop Pop, my companion, my playmate, my friend, my everything, was being cared for in a hospital. I didn’t quite understand the predicament at the time, but now, after countless stories, I know that he was in so much pain. I was confused when I went to see him at the hospital and my mom was crying. I was so confused as to why he was acting sad, upset, and not like his normal, happy self. I just didn’t know what was going on. I was only six and I held his hand tight and just didn’t know what else to do. I asked my mom why she was crying and she couldn’t respond. I had no clue he was dying.
My family made the decision to move him back to his home and let him be in peace without nurses coming and going. We went to visit him almost every day. I didn’t know why I couldn’t play Rummy with him or why he was in his bed all the time. I didn’t know why he had a wheelchair and hospital gown, or why he had an IV, but I went along with it. I have been told so many times about how he would be fighting with the nurse, or uncomfortable and wanting to move, or he would be just plain upset and didn’t want to see anyone, but when my sister and I walked into his room, he lit up as best he could and we said our hellos and spent time with our Pop Pop, our companion, our playmate, our everything. We wanted him to get out of bed and play Rummy, but we didn’t ask because we didn’t know why he was in bed in the first place.
I’m not sure how I found out or what my reaction was when I was told about his passing, but I don’t want to ask. My Pop Pop means too much to me now to ask how I responded when I was seven. I don’t really care how I responded, I just care that he passed away peacefully in his sleep, and he is looking down on me now from heaven. My Pop Pop is still a huge part of my life and all my memories because he represents how much family means to me, and how much I need the people to whom I am closest. My Pop Pop taught me how attached people can become to their families, and how loving families are to each other. He also shows me that love for family is fragile in a predicament like ours, but holds strong when you know there are true bonds between the members.
When I was about eight, I ate a pen. Well, I didn’t full on eat it; so let me start from the beginning.
I was sitting in my mom’s study doing my little second grade homework, which was quite the challenge! I was way beyond stressed and I started to chew on my pen. Classic. Apparently, I didn’t learn from this experience because I still chew on my pens to this day. Anyway, I chewed, and gnawed, and ripped apart my pen like an angry, carnivorous dinosaur having a bloody meal of human. Except the fact that I’m not a dinosaur, I didn’t actually eat my pen, and I only made that comparison because we were studying dinosaurs in second grade. Maybe I was chewing on my pen because I decided to try out the dinosaur state of mind, and taste something that isn’t normally food: my pen.
So I was sitting there doing my homework, chewing on my pen, hopelessly lost in my little game of “eat the pen like you’re a dinosaur” and suddenly, the little thing you use to push the point out of the pen snapped off. With it, came a whole chunk of my pen and most of the ink decided to land right on my tongue. I didn’t realize at first how much ink was on me, but I did feel something wet on my chin. Figuring it was just spit; I wiped it off with my clean, white school shirt. As I looked down at my collar/ napkin, I saw a huge, dark blue splotch on my shirt! Then I realized that I had something that tasted gross in my mouth. I asked my mom if there was anything on my tongue and she said, “Yeah, did you have blue candy?” I responded with a confused “No… Oh no that’s my pen!” and I held up the evidence.
My mom and I rushed to the bathroom around the corner to rinse out my mouth. She called 911 in such a panic, because she thought it was poisonous.
“911? Is pen ink poisonous? My daughter got some in her mouth and we need to know if she should go to the ER,” said my mom frantically.
“I’m not sure, but I can connect you to poison control,” replied the calm operator. My mom thanked her and waited for poison control to tell us what to do. While we waited, my mom asked me if I swallowed any.
“Probably! I didn’t know I had it in my mouth.”
When my mom got off the phone with poison control, she told me that I’d be fine, but I had to drink a lot of milk to counteract the acid in the ink. We went up to the kitchen and got out the milk and I drank glass, after glass, after glass. Finally, we were out of milk. I was fine, but I was glad my mom was there for me when I needed her.
If that had happened recently, I don’t think I would have done anything and not even bothered to tell my mom. Thank goodness I was with her when it happened because she helped make a call I wouldn’t have made on my own. I’m glad I had her then to look out for my health. Now I know she will always be there for me when I need to help with something, no matter how big or how small. That experience taught me two things, one: don’t chew your pens, and two: family is always there for you when you need them. They always have your best interest in mind, and act as a block of support for you to lean on when you’re too weak to fend for yourself. In my case, family has helped me with many things including talking to teachers for me, helping me when I hurt a muscle in my knee, and I was too little to call poison control myself, so, as my family member, my mom called them for me because she had my best interest in mind.
In 2011, my family and I went on vacation in Turks and Caicos, a cozy little collection of islands. On the plane, we were able to capture little snapshots of the sky. Three years ago, those snapshots were just depictions of gorgeous, fluffy, bright-white clouds. Now, they represent freedom, joy, lightheartedness, and beauty.
Once we got to Turks and Caicos, we settled into our hotel, went down to the sparkling beach for the sunset, went out to a delicious dinner, and the next day hit the beach. We started out taking pictures in the beige sand, by the lush green palm trees, and in the turquoise-blue water. As the excitement vacation brings along died down, we ensconced ourselves into our pink beach chairs to nap in the bright, hot, Caribbean sun. As I lay in my beach chair, I gazed up at the lovely, clear blue sky and wondered where all the fluffy little white clouds we saw as we made our journey from home had gone. I finally sank into a light sleep, and dreamt about all the things we would do during our vacation.
Later that day, we loaded onto a boat to venture into the clear, light blue water. The water we accelerated through was as light, soft, and beautifully blue as the sky. We journeyed through it as fast as a cheetah, but as delicate as a swan. We glided to a darker, deeper portion of water where we could swim with tons of different fish and see all different shades of green seaweed, pink and white coral, and soft, white shells. I don’t like fish, so I was too scared to get in, but my parents did and they told my sister and me about all the different colors and lives that were held under the clear water. “Get in! It’s beautiful! The fish are more afraid of you than you are of them!” said my mom.
The captain of our boat directed us to a vast span of open, shallow water where we could snorkel for sand dollars. Still afraid of fish, I hesitated, but eventually, I realized that there wasn’t a single fish in sight. The captain said, “We are in an area where you can find lots of sand dollars. If you go down to the bottom and collect them you can take them home with you.” I was excited that we were going to be able to bring home a natural souvenir, but still afraid. I started to climb down the ladder and then I thought I saw a fin swimming steadily toward us. I thought I saw a shark and I held onto the rail of the ladder and tried to climb back on. All of a sudden I realized that it was the captain of the boat holding a starfish above the water as he swam looking for sand dollars. I heaved a huge sigh of relief and jumped back in. I found dozens of sand dollars, but kept about four. My sister found even more than I, because she wasn’t afraid of fish so she got in like a normal person in the beginning and started her collection before I did. All together we took eight or nine home. This was an experience that not only was fun, but I learned to conquer my fear of fish. Sorta.
Later in the trip, defeating one fear helped me to defeat another: parasailing. My dad, sister, and I were strolling down the soft white beach, looking up at the fluffy clouds and bright sky. We saw a group of people parasailing and my sister and I asked my dad if he’d ever done it. “Yeah, I did it with Jimmy when he was about your age.” Jimmy is my older brother, who is in his 30s now, so clearly, my dad hadn’t gone parasailing in a while. “Can we go?” we eagerly asked. He said yes, if we found the place to sign up. Our eyes scanned the beach for a dock and a nearby shop to sign up. We finally found it and the lady inside said they had an opening in an hour. We reserved the spot and then went back to our hotel for lunch. After lunch, we went back, armed with towel, camera and water bottles and waited on the dock for the boat. Another family loaded the boat with us: two girls and their mom. We discovered that unless we were going up individually, we had to have an adult. My dad was planning on only being the photographer, but since I wasn’t old enough to go up with only my sister, we all went together. We asked the nice lady on the boat to get a picture of us. “Sure! No problem!” “Thanks!”
Up, up, up, into the mighty blue sky, we went. We floated upwards for a good five minutes and then started to hover above the boat. We thought it would be scary, but it was an uplifting moment. The entire island lay before us and still, we were able to see the detail of the people gazing up at us. I felt like I was part of the plane I took over to Turks and Caicos: gallant, yet delicate, and vulnerable to falling. I imagined slicing through the clouds and feeling their icy rush. I imagined I was flying and I felt free, I felt comfortable in the clear sky, I felt “fluffy” just like the clouds I was floating amongst.
The most important souvenir I carried away from that vacation was being able to conquer a fear and feeling that sense of freedom and joy. I think about my experience now and realize that I always feel like that when I’m with family. I feel joy and comfort in their presence. No matter what times are like, family will always be a clear blue sky for me.
As bright as the sun shines,
My family shines brighter.
Some times are sad times,
But you must be a fighter.
When my Pop Pop died,
Each family member shed at least a tear.
Although we all cried,
We held each other dear.
As bright as the sun shines,
My family shines brighter.
Some times are good times,
So float on air lighter.
When I went parasailing,
In the sky, my family and I drifted.
We thought we’d be wailing,
But we were uplifted.
As bright as the sun shines,
My family shines brighter.
Some times are old times,
But those family moments are mightier.
Nine years ago my family and I went skiing.
When I said that line,
Mr. Dolomite was agreeing.
That trip with my family was indubitably divine.
In the end, I have one thing to say:
They are so much more than just okay.
Family brings along so many things to a new addition. When a baby is born, it is showered with gifts and so many other special things. These gifts are usually thought of as physical, and only last until they outgrow them. Babies can outgrow toys, clothes, and furniture, but not feelings and attributes. When my family greets a new baby, they greet them with happiness, care, love, knowledge, and hope. These are all things that my family greeted me with and things that I will never outgrow. I will love these things, and my family forever and ever and know that if I need someone to comfort me, I can go to them. Family is like an everlasting tree that grows with you so that you can never outgrow it, no matter how many years. Basically I’m saying that family brings along gifts, and these gifts are happiness, care, bond, knowledge, love, and hope as I exemplified in my stories.