Greetings and salutations, Dear Reader. It is late morning here in New Hometown, Florida on Tuesday, July 13, 2021. It is a hot and muggy day, and it looks as though we are in a typical subtropical summer weather pattern. The current temperature Is 82˚F (28˚C) under sunny skies. With humidity at 63% and the wind blowing from the east-northeast at 6 MPH (10 KM/H), the heat index is 89˚F (32˚C). The forecast for today calls for afternoon thunderstorms that will move through our area. The high will be 91˚F (33˚C). Tonight, we can expect light rain and a low of 74˚F (24˚C). The Air Quality Index (AQI) is 56 or Moderate.
Right now, over my little corner of Florida it is a bit cloudier than the conditions my computer’s Weather app describes. It might be Sunny or Partly Sunny (the status changes along with the weather) at the reporting station where the data is recorded, but overhead it is Cloudy. Per the app’s Hourly forecast page, we will be Partly Sunny till 1 PM Eastern, then the weather will deteriorate as the storms kick in between 3 and 4 this afternoon. It happened yesterday. It will happen today. And it will happen tomorrow, sure as rain.
I am an old Florida hand – I was born in Miami 58 years ago, and with the exception of a six-year stay in Bogota, Colombia and a three-month Semester in Spain stint in Seville, I have lived in this state all my life. The wet, stormy season is as much a part of my life as my love for Star Wars, beautiful women, classical music, and history, so I am used to it. I don’t necessarily like it, especially since Florida is the Lightning Capital of the United States and I’ve already lost a TV (in 1974) and a computer (in 2004) to lightning strikes. But it is a part of life in Florida.
Today I am once again in a melancholy mood. Since 2015, this time of year tends to weigh heavily on my mind. My mom was nearing the end of her life at this time six years ago, and although I do my best to not think about it, inevitably I begin to slip into “Anniversary Mode” as July 19 looms ever nearer. No matter how hard I try to focus on other things – whether they are current events, projects I am working on, or entertainment-related stuff along the lines of books I’m reading, movies I want to get on 4K Blu-ray, or Star Wars figures I have or want to get – the dreaded anniversary of Mom’s death tends to dominate my thought processes.
Let’s face it. I live where I do as a consequence of (a) Mom’s death and (b) the tragic but inevitable estrangement between my older half-sister and me. I obviously could not prevent the former – I am not a deity and can’t stop the ones I love from dying – and although I did my best to get along with my half-sister, especially over the 28-year span between 1987 and 2015, that also did not go as well as everyone, including Mom, wished it would.
I mean, seriously. I have been criticized by some of my relatives in Colombia for revealing some of my half-sister’s Trumpian behavior traits in my original Blogger blog (A Certain Point of View) and “destroying” Vicky’s reputation without allowing her to defend herself. But my critics – cousins who have only infrequently seen Vicky and/or me during brief vacations since 1972 – were not witnesses to the many incidents that led to the Big Sibling Schism of 2015. I have not seen any of my cousins since the summer of 1997, and Vicky traveled to Bogota in October of 2015 (three months after Mom died) to be with family while I tried to repair and renovate the townhouse that Mom bequeathed me in her 2010 last will and testament.
I know my half-sister’s modus operandi, and I am sure that when she was in Bogota for a month she had no compunction at all about portraying herself as the victim of her conniving half-brother who cheated her out of her rightful inheritance. Even when Mom was very much alive and in good health (or as good health as possible for a woman who smoked cigarettes from 1940 to early 1994 and had osteoporosis and badly damaged vertebrae in her spine), Vicky had a habit of putting Mom and me down and claiming – unfairly – that she was never invited to dinner at Mom’s house and that our mother only loved me.
If I made a detailed list of all the friends my mother lost – either temporarily or, sadly, permanently – because of Vicky’s incessant campaign of lies, this blog post would be incredibly long and painful to read. Suffice it to say, though, that Mom commented – to me and others she confided in – that as much as she loved her first-born child, there were many things that she could not forgive her for doing, and that the worst offense was how Vicky turned so many people – including a distant cousin of Mom’s, Silvia Restrepo – against her.
Anyway, yeah. Mid-to-late July is a particularly challenging time for me. I hate being estranged from my closest surviving blood relative, but our relationship was never a harmonious one to begin with. In all the time that we interacted between 1969 and 2015 (1969 being the year that Vicky rejoined the family after being sent off to a boarding school in Parkersburg, WV), the only time where “harmony” existed was when we lived in Bogota. I was six in 1969, and because Vicky is nearly 13 years older, we really did not spend a hell of a lot of time together. I was in a Catholic private school (Colegio El Nogal) five days a week and, after school, I did my homework, played with my cousins and friends and watched TV, while Vicky had more grown-up pursuits and was a Red Cross volunteer. So when our paths crossed at home it was almost always a cordial and amicable relationship that we had.
Once we moved to Miami in 1972, however, the dynamic changed. Vicky did not want to live in the States and, against the family’s wishes, stayed in Bogota with our great-aunt Gabriela. That did not go well, and our grandparents forced Vicky to rejoin us in Miami in spite of my older half-sister’s wishes. And although I am not a psychologist or psychiatrist, I believe that she blamed me for that unwanted change to her life plans.
In any case, even though I sometimes wish I could find some way to reconcile with Vicky, I do not think that is possible. I do not think that she is capable of admitting that her behavior or actions have been less than honorable, to put it mildly. I am where I am, away from my former house and hometown, mainly because Vicky and I cannot see eye to eye on anything, and because she is not a trustworthy individual.
As I prepare to close this post – it’s already past noon now – I am struck by the fact that my Amazon Music app is playing Tomaso Albinoni’s Adagio in G-minor for Strings and Organ. It fits my mood to a tee!
And on that note, I will bid you goodbye (for now), Dear Reader. Stay safe, stay healthy, and I’ll catch you on the sunny side of things.
 I remember this particular incident because my mom and I hosted Silvia at our house at a time when she was down and out in the mid-1980s. I don’t recall how long she lived with us, but I do know it was for more than a month. Silvia was an intelligent and warm woman, and we all got along so well that we were sorry to see her go when she found an apartment and got a new job.
Some time after Silvia had gotten back on her feet, Mom and Vicky were in the midst of one of their periodic tiffs and not talking to each other. Little did we know that Vicky was “cultivating” Silvia after a chance encounter in Dadeland Mall or someplace like that. As was her MO, Vicky befriended Silvia, then, after she gained the older woman’s confidence, began the whole “Mom doesn’t love me” brainwashing process. So convincing is Vicky’s shtick (very similar in style to Donald Trump) that Silvia called my mother and scolded her about being such a bad mother to my half-sister.
Mom was so hurt and angry that she told Silvia to never call her again, and a lifelong friendship ended. Just. Like. That.
Mom later said that several years afterward, when Silvia was dying from cancer, she called Mom from Bogota to tell her the bad news and to apologize for her behavior. According to my mother, Silvia said that Vicky had, over a period of time, told her so many stories of how Mom was indifferent toward her and that, in contrast, she favored me unfairly and that she was left out of many gatherings and was rarely invited over for dinner with us. So convincing were Vicky’s tales that Silvia not only hated Mom, but me as well.
The kicker, Mom said, was that not only did Silvia later find out that Vicky was lying about my mother, but that my half-sister was also stirring up shit about Silvia! I don’t remember what the particulars were; Mom only told this story once, and I did not take notes. I do remember that Mom graciously accepted Silvia’s apology and expressed her regret that the friendship had been damaged by my half-sister, but the damage was done and could not be undone.