My favorite Mama T Story (My maternal grandmother who loved in Cooper, Texas)

I was in the small Northeast Texas town of Cooper often with Mama T and Pop (my grandfather) from ages 2 to 13. I think I was 12 when she died. In fact, I lived with them much of my 3rd grade year while my parents were dealing with my brother Chris Paul and his Cerebral Palsy.

In the summers I would love to go with Pop to his houseboat and run around by myself on his land all day. Sometimes I would take the row boat out in the tank (pond) under Pop’s watchful eye as he fished. I can hardly remember him ever catching anything, but he fished for many hours almost every day. I fell out of the boat a few times, and Pop would yell at me. I think that was the only times he ever yelled at me.

I loved Mama T more than anyone. As with so many of her grandchildren, she would read the Bible to me and she always treated me like I was special and beloved – though she corrected me often whenever I would curse. Curse words to her were “Gosh”, Darn” and” Dang”. I hate to think what she would have said if I ever used real curse words. She would give me a few quarters to go downtown to the old Sparks theater whenever I wanted. And she baked pies! Lots of pies.

I would often go with Mama T to shop at the Piggly Wiggly. She always knew everyone shopping and working there, so she usually spent a long time in the store gossiping and laughing with her friends.

One day I remember first hearing about the concept of false teeth and asked my mom what they were. She explained them to me and sent me in to near shock by informing me that Mama T herself had false teeth! And furthermore, mom informed that she took them out at night and kept them in a glass next to her bed while she and Pop slept. I couldn’t believe all this new information. I eventually filed this startling story away in my brain’s great mysteries file.

On my next trip to Cooper I found myself once again at the Piggly Wiggly with Mama T and she was holding forth with all her friends in the checkout line. There were probably five or six women within earshot of us. Then like a bolt from the blue, I recalled what my mom had told me – “Mama T”, I blurted out. “Is it true that you have false teeth?” All the women including Mama T began to laugh and they could hardly stop! I was suddenly very embarrassed, but they were practically bending over in laughter, and for a long time. When we got home, Mama T started calling some other friends on the phone to recount my public faux pas with much laughter. She would tell the story to anyone around, including other relatives. She had so much fun with that story.

To say that Mama T was unpretentious is an understatement. I think all 23 Pickering cousins were very fortunate to have this kind and loving woman as our grandmother. I for one still miss her.

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The River and The Wall

920x920I spent the last three years of my youth in my hometown of Laredo, Texas living literally a stone’s throw away from Rio Grande/Rio Bravo river. Like so many young people who live on a river, it became a focal point for most of my outdoor activities. I would hunt small animals with my .22 caliber rifle and wander up and down the shoreline with my four dogs in tow. I would fish a lot hoping to someday catch an elusive Alligator Gar, which probably wasn’t very edible but was the closest thing to a river monster in those parts. I would see them sometimes breach the surface of the river and it would give me chills down my spine.

Once, my friend Roly and I were walking along the shore and someone from across the river started shooting at us! We quickly jumped behind a mound of dirt and stayed in place for some time until we decided to make a dash for home. It’s probably a good thing that we didn’t likewise have our own rifles with us, otherwise it might have been an old-fashioned Mexican stand-off. Yikes!

My dogs loved the river as well. Rabbits would regularly dart across and on the trails. Three of the dogs would give chase and the other would get so excited that she just froze up, yelped and peed on the ground. It’s safe to say that she would have never survived in the wild.

It was during those years that I had a spiritual revival in my life, thanks in part to the local Episcopal Church where I attended. I found a special bluff on a ravine just off the river that was hidden from view by large trees. It was there that I would sit for hours and pray and talk to God. It was my own secret hideout. I wonder if it’s still there.

I had access to an old beat up aluminum canoe, and my friends and I would travel in it several miles upriver and all the way to the power plant where we would lay exhaustively on the shore – regaining our strength and then paddle back home downstream with little exertion. There were actually some small rapids along the way which added to the fun. When we went upstream there were places that were so shallow that we had to carry our canoe a few yards to keep moving. The Rio Grande river is not the Amazon river, that’s for sure!

We would also paddle downstream for many more miles through the middle of town and end up at the Slaughter-Glassford farm which was owned by some of my fellow church members. They were kind enough to allow us to leave a truck there on those days so we could haul the canoe and ourselves back home. Along the way we witnessed people on the Mexico side literally living on the shore in the worst conditions imaginable. Laredo’s sister city, Nuevo Laredo was full of poverty and most Laredoens were often exposed to it when we would shop and dine there, but this was poverty at a different level. I was always shocked to know that it existed so close to where I lived.

Not far from my home was a place where I would often witness Mexicans traversing the river into the United States as illegal aliens. Our southern border was and is a porous one. It’s no wonder that there are an estimated 15 million undocumented/illegal aliens living here. I have very mixed emotions about President Trump’s plan to build a wall. From what I have heard, the shores of Laredo are ground zero for the largest most fortified barriers that are planned.

A river is a magical phenomenon in human society. It molds culture, cities and young men and women such as myself. Just read Mark Twain and you will know this to be true. To the denizens of shores, a river dominates life and culture and very much shapes who we are. My memories of living on the Rio Grande are among my fondest. I hope that many a boy or girl has had the opportunities I have had to thrive along the shore, and sometimes in the river itself.

So here is why I have mixed emotions. On one hand we do need to stop large scale illegal immigration and I suppose the wall will help. On the other hand, once it’s built then only Mexican youth and adults in the future will be able to enjoy the Rio Grande river in the way that I did. And only Mexican youth and adults will be shaped by its sublime and surreal influences on who we are, and what we become. This seems like a real shame to me.
Tom D.

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Our Father

When I was five years old my family lived in a place called San Angelo, a midsized West Texas city where my dad began his career working for the State of Texas, and my mom started out as a school teacher. Not far from our subdivision was O.C. Fisher Lake, which among other benefits, provided a popular recreation area for many San Angoleans, including our family.

I don’t remember much about the lake other than that it was there that I saw a car-boat for the first time, or maybe it was a boat-car. Anyhow the official name for it was an Amphicar. Most were small convertibles with propellers jutting out just below the back bumper. Any fortunate motorist who was in possession of one could drive right off the road and into the lake and putter around like it was normal. To a five year old these cars were fantastic and right out of something  I might read in my many D.C. comic books. And we saw these Amphicars quite often on our lake.

The other O.C. Fisher Lake attraction I recall was a small beach where West Texas families could pretend they were on the French Riviera or the romantic Ipanema as they spread out on the dirt posing as sand. They drank refreshments, sunbathed and often dipped their toes in the water. My parents enjoyed taking me and my brother there often. My brother’s name was Chris Paul. He was only two years old at that time and he suffered from a  severe form of Cerebral Palsy, so he was greatly limited as to what he was able to enjoy on those days at the lake, and sadly for the rest of his life. However he loved splashing in the water with the assistance of my mom and dad.

I likewise loved to play in the water and usually I was well supervised.  However on one particular visit to the lake I managed to tug one of those old thin and flimsy air-filled plastic floating mattresses off of the beach and into the shallow water while my parents napped on their beach towels. Then the fun began. I mostly laid on it face up and allowed the small waves to push me up and down and about the lake. I didn’t yet know how to swim so I was under strict orders to stay near the shore; in the shallows, and away from the deeper water. Other kids were floating about on their own plastic vehicles including a  girl who was probably around eight years old and who sat regally aloft this magnificent plastic air-filled swan like a she was the Queen of O.C. Fisher Lake. I remember envying her swan in comparison to my own very humble maritime craft. She also was in deeper waters so I slowly paddled my way toward her to get a better look of her impressive swan. I eventually reached her and interacted with her as I floated past. It suddenly dawned on me that I was still moving out away from the lake’s shore and I was getting further away from the swan-girl. For the first time in my young life I felt a sense of dread. I could see my parents still napping on the shore and started to call out, ”Daddy, Mommy! Help!” They didn’t move at all. I looked desperately at the swan-girl and she was attempting to paddle my way but couldn’t seem to generate any speed. So I floated and yelled; and floated and yelled.

I started to panic as I saw my parents becoming  visibly smaller on the beach. I was well on my way to the center of the lake. Did I mention that I didn’t know how to swim, and how incredibly flimsy my mattress was? I clung on to it now for dear life.  Suddenly I could hear my parents yelling and screaming and they seemed very far off. My father leapt into the water and swam as hard and as fast as he could toward me all the while yelling “Hang on Tommy! Please hang on! I’m coming! I’m coming!” I remember being terrified,  but I could see my father coming closer and it gave me great hope. Finally, in what seemed like an eternity my father reached my craft; grasped onto me and collapsed across the mattress while be struggled to regain his breath. After he recovered his strength, he managed us back to the shore and into the arms of my crying  mother. In later years he admitted that his swim to rescue me was the most exhausting physical exertion that he had ever experienced in his entire life. And this from a man not long out of the military and duty in the Korean war.

When I read Jesus praying “My Father in heaven” I can’t help but think of my earthly father and how many times he has come to my rescue as if no one, nor nothing else mattered to him apart from his son’s well being. I also observed him pour his life, energy and resources exhaustively into my severely disabled brother with little regard for his own comfort, convenience and life circumstance.  As a father myself, I find his example almost impossible to emulate even with my own beloved sons. In Matthew 7:11 Jesus says,

“If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him!”

My father has never seemed very evil to me, but like all of us he is a flawed sinner. Jesus’ point being that if you can trust a flawed sinner, then how much more can you trust your perfect Father in heaven.  

My brother died in 1994 and he was virtually a vegetable all of his life. However he would laugh with glee everytime my father came into his sight. He adored his flawed daddy, as do I. And so did Jesus adore his absolutely perfect daddy. So much so that he did only what his father led him to do for the entire thirty three years that he walked on earth. He even died a horrendous death on the cross only because his Father asked him to do so.

I don’t think it’s by chance that Jesus starts The Lord’s Prayer with addressing God as Our Father. That’s the primary way that Jesus addressed him throughout his life and ministry. And as you will soon read there is something very, very significant about the concept of father as a role model and a archetype for God.  It will become obvious as to why Jesus chooses to reference  his Father as our Father. What a mind-blowing privilege that is.

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Duck Takes – Pond Humor By T.M. Deliganis

Duck Takes
“Pond Humor”

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Important Announcement

I have finally released my new cryptocurrency which I call TomCoin. It took every bit of mathematics I’ve ever learned to develop this. Here is how it works. Send a minimum of $20 to my PayPal account-tdeliganis@gmail.com. I will then convert it into 53,453 of TomCoin units and provide you with a certificate for each $20 you send. The initial benefit to you in this transaction is your ability to now claim to your friends and family that you own at least 53,453 of cryptocurrency. Additional value and benefits to be released in the future. BTW it’s a really nice certificate!

Feel free to share this with your friends!tc

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Religious Narcotics

Karl Marx said “Religion is the opium of the people” A correct statement I think🤔

Personally I believe that an authentic relationship with a living God and with others who posses the same is not a narcotic, but a natural stimulant and the path to true peace of mind and heart. Happy Easter Weekend

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Menudo

Menudo

By T.M. Deliganis (1972 when I was 17)

 

Menudo
By T.M. Deliganis

In that land of big and bold,
In those good ole’ days of old,
Rode a cowboy on a horse,
Riding on an infinite course.

Looking for some good menudo,
Soon he came to Laredo,
Pulled his six gun from his side,
The women screamed; the men did hide.

Then he said to Laredo,
“I want your good menudo!”
One brave soul stepped out and said,
“Since long ago our cows are dead”.

Then he got back in his saddle,
And said, “I don’t care if there are no cattle!,
Bring me some by tomorrow,
Or this whole town will feel my sorrow.”

As he left, he left a sack,
For menudo when he got back,
All that night the town was crying,
“get menudo, or we’ll all be dying”.

When he returned in the morning,
And began to fulfill his warning,
On a rock he tripped and hit his head,
Soon that mean ole cowboy fell dead.

“Oh hurray” said Mayor J.C.,
“What a miracle, can’t you see?
Because of our rocky streets we’re saved,
Never will they all be paved!”

 

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