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Saturday, June 14, 2014


by Steven P. Velasquez
June 14, 2014

My family, over the recent past, has been encountering (sometimes enduring) what seems to be an unprecedented amount of change, of transitions. From anticipated change like the long-awaited arrival of Spring, to special occasions that no matter how well documented, highlighted or punctuated they are on one's calendar, always feel like a surprise!

Nazareth Area H.S.
Class of 2014
A few weeks ago, we finally began to encounter temps over 50 degrees Fahrenheit. The days are longer and one's warm-weather wardrobe re-emerges from storage boxes beneath their beds. This week, my first born daughter Nicolette, graduated high school (so proud). Next week, she will blow out 18 candles, be eligible to vote, to serve in the military, to make her own decisions (I pray she makes good ones). A month from today, she'll leave her mother's nest, spread her wings and begin attending Liberty University in Virginia, about half-way between her parents (NJ & PA) and her oldest sister Samantha and grandmother Pat in Savannah, GA.

Happy Birthday Abuelo

A few weeks ago, my father Americo blew out candle-lit pancakes at IHOP, one of his favorite restaurants and guilty pleasures, for the 78th time. Happy Birthday Daddy.

Last week, we paid a surprise visit to the elders with my youngest, Little B, in tow. This is always a welcome event by my parents as they love their granddaughters more than life and air and the sun combined. One of their complaints in their new home in Toms River is the silence, the sound of time passing and their arteries hardening. They miss getting in the car and going places. They miss the sound of their children playing out in the street, as Mountain Way in Rutherford was more like a sports arena than a street corner during my childhood. Perhaps they even miss refereeing another fight between my sister Diane and I. Odd I know, but it was the activity, I suspect, that reminded them they were alive - and young - and vibrant.

It was late when I decided to scoop them up and take them out. They usually oppose my impulsiveness with their long, choreographed list of:
  •  How late it is 
  •  How tired they are
  •  Or how little money we have
That night they offered a gentle "Okay, where are we going?" I was surprised to say the least. I was going to pack the mini-van tight with three generations of Velasquez family and take them to where one is always reminded - that they're alive - and young - and vibrant.

Abuelo & Abuela on the boardwalk
Point Pleasant, NJ


Our destination was one deeply embedded in my family's DNA; a place my parents had brought me to since before I could walk. Our love for this location was reinforced with frequent visits during my youth, changes and transitions. Following this tradition, I have taken all my daughters there since before they could walk. Their love for this location was reinforced with frequent visits during their youth, changes and transitions too.
We watched with smiles ear to ear as Little B, Josh and Kimmie flew through the night, upward, downward, sideways and up again on the roller coaster. We chuckled as they smashed into each other on the bumper cars. I watched my aging parents illuminate, like proud, veteran candles.

Little B and Kimmie team up against 16 year-old Josh
Point Pleasant Beach, NJ

My father then leaned over to me and asked quietly;
"Have we ever come here before?"
I immediately covered my mouth with my hands and attempted to swallow my tears. My father has been showing signs of change and transition in the form of forgetfulness and cognitive impairment. This however really shook me. I had prayed memories like this would remain till the end, reminders of being alive - and young - and vibrant.
Remember Daddy, remember...

2006 Abuelo hold his youngest granddaughter
Little B