Monday, October 30, 2017

Halloween in Granada, chasing spirits and mending them too

Our school had their annual Halloween bash for the kiddos. How can I say it any other way, than the school's children took the Calzada by storm. Though Halloween is not widely celebrated in Nicaragua, it happens to be so close to their day of the dead, that most see the good in the celebration. Halloween, for the children, is quite an affair, I can still remember my excitement nearly 35 years ago. Back then, deciding on costumes, where to go, the mountains of candy, was all so exhilarating. I eventually learned that Halloween was started by the Celts as a way to end their lunar year by scaring away all the demons and spirits from the past year so they wouldn't return in the new year.
   Chasing spirits is part and parcel of experiencing a good Halloween. Little did I know, that one day, mending spirits would be equally as important. As Zoe's friends ran from restaurant to restaurant collecting their bounties we struggled just getting there. Wheelchair accessibility, what's that? Down here, the streets are historic and so too are their inaccessibilities. Zoe was so sad, though she tried not to show it, she was crushed. I eventually rolled her aside and got on my knees so I could be at her eye level, and chatted with her. She confided about her frustrations, and how hot and sweaty she she had become sitting on her pillow. She was right, and there was nothing I could do, except support her. I let her know that we were there for her and listened. I was instantly reminded of times in the past, when my wife would vent about something and I offered my solution and she, in return, got mad at me. My wife would say, "I want you to hear me, not give me advice, aarrhh." Thankfully I remembered how important it was for my wife to be heard. I looked Zoe in the eyes and quietly listened while she cleared her mind, and she felt a little better for it.
   Zoe had one Charlie Brown experience after another. She messed up carving her pumpkin. She wanted her pumpkin to have a couple of teeth but accidentally cut too far, and they fell out. She bemoaned how messing up the pumpkin had nothing to do with her being in a wheelchair. Her art work, that she worked on for countless hours, was blown by the wind right into the rain and ruined it. The list of follies literally goes on and on, and for a child, failure is seen as personal fault. Thankfully, she has a lot of really good friends and an awesome sister to help her through this very tough period.
   Then it happened... We were told that Zoe's 3 lb. meatloaf skull won the scary food competition. She said, "Really...really? Really!" Zoe was ecstatic, bouncing up and down, as much as one can possibly do in a wheelchair and then softly mumbled, "I didn't do it daddy, you helped me." I wasn't expecting that at all! I mean, it was her idea after researching it on-line, she decorated it entirely on her own, and put the blood and goo all over the meatloaf. I literally just shaped the perimeter, because it was a 3 pound ground beef behemoth that need parental assistance, and that was it. Still, in her mind, the meatloaf skull wasn't hers, and I could not overcome that. So much of our sadness, as humans, feeds off of how we perceive things at that moment.
   The opportunity came to change her perspective without being, however minimally, involved in changing it. T'was announced that Zoe had won a pizza, for her meatloaf creation, and she of course likes pizza very much. This was the moment, I leaned forward and whispered a congratulations in her ear and gently said, "Because you won the prize, once you are able to jump again, mommy and daddy are going to rent the party boat and have everybody show up for you ." The school children were clapping and cheering because she won, she teared up, heck I teared up. She finally got the opportunity be overwhelmed, hearing the claps and knowing she is loved made all the difference.
   It would be remiss of me not to acknowledge the real difficulties many have and will always have, just trying to move around. We have seen first hand how stairs provide access for some and are barriers for others. I am so appreciative for the help my daughter received from perfect strangers, who acted perfectly. Prior to Zoe's injury I couldn't even fathom the difficulties one would have maneuvering a wheelchair, through a city like this. Seeing how spirits can break just as quickly and profoundly as bones can, has taught us all a lesson about hidden pains.
  Making the world a better place isn't someone else's job, it's ours. We are the generation that you and I have been waiting for. Be thankful by being helpful.  Please volunteer, give to charities, be a superhero, and not just on Halloween.

Some of the most beautiful pumpkins come from mistakes. 

A wicked witch, Harley Quinn, Ladron (robber), and a black cat.

Sierra was happy to have fun and we encouraged her to run around with the other kids but she always checked up on her sister to see how she was doing.

Daddy and daughter, inseparable. 

The award winning meatloaf monster.

A picture is worth a thousand words.

The kids got lots of candies while trick or treating.

Parental involvement made the kids parade possible.

Lots of spooky, cute and scary in this group.

Our school director and her son dressed up as dinosaurs.

Sisterly love, nothing like it, nothing better.

We went to Pan de Vida bakery for the food, games and awards.

Spooky ghost were everywhere.

I thought this pineapple carving was awesome.

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