It started on Sunday, December 27, less than two weeks ago.
It was the beginning of a series of unexpected reconnections with people from my past that I had not seen in forever.
This is a picture of me (!!) when I graduated from high school just a few short years ago.
Ok. So it's been longer than I want to even think about.
The two people I am standing with are my Ninos. That's Spanish for Godparents. My Nino Mike on the left, and my Nina Carmen on the right, were a prominent part of my life.
My Nina Carmen died much too young from cancer in 1992. Shortly after that, my Nino left L.A. to live in Arizona. As a result, I have not seen him much since. The last time I had seen him was very briefly when my grandmother died about six years ago.
Less than two weeks ago on Sunday, December 27, my husband and I were driving around, just enjoying the day. We were passing through East L.A. when I decided I wanted some panitos (dinner rolls) from one of our favorite bakeries, El Gallo.
We entered the small bakery and got in line behind a few other people. I was scanning the shelves, checking out all the pan dulce (Mexican sweet bread) when an older gentleman who was in the group in front of me came up to me and touched my shoulder. I thought he was going to tell me to go on ahead because his group had already ordered, when he looked down intently at me, giving me a slight hug.
I was wondering what this man was doing when I looked up and took a really good look at his face and realized it was my Nino!
I gasped and cried out in surprise, giving him a big hug. It was so unexpected, it had me reeling. I then realized he was with his daughter Nancy, who I had not seen in ages, along with her husband. We all had a great time reconnecting for a short time while we made our transactions. My Nino said he was visiting for a short while and then would be going back to Arizona.
As we said our good-byes he took one more look at me and with a wink said "You're my Christmas present."
And then he was gone.
For the rest of the day, I was floating on clouds remembering the wonderful times I had spent with my Nino.
But I have to tell you, as I later told my husband, the number one thing I always remember about him was how special he always made me feel.
Growing up I was fat and ugly and, as a result, the shyest, most withdrawn person in the world. I was also very critical of myself and could never accept any compliments anyone else might try to give me. And yet, every time I was with my Nino he would smile that charming smile that lit up his eyes and he would tell me how beautiful I was. And, just for the moment, I would believe him. I don't know why, but for some reason, he could make you feel so special that you could believe something you might otherwise never believe.
For an unconfident young girl, it was the most special gift, one that I will always remember.
And that is what is even more unusual about the people I have recently reconnected with. Each person has left a very special mark in my life. I am wondering what this all means. I know it has to do with appreciation and being more grateful. I will enjoy exploring this while I share these moments with you.
Wishing more hugs to my Nino,
and to all of you, Special Moments,