Posts Tagged ‘Puerto Rico’

Three Kings Day

January 6, 2010 4 comments

Today is El Dia de Reyes or El Dia de los Reyes Magos, Three Kings’ Day in English (also known as Epiphany). In the US this day means squat, it’s just another day as any, but in Puerto Rico today is a holiday, the culmination of the Christmas season, and a big day in our national culture. I’m not entirely sure how big of a deal Three Kings Day is in other Latin countries or in Spain, but I do know it is celebrated, as we get the custom from our Spanish ancestry. In Puerto Rico it has taken on a life of its own, with parties and feasts all over the island, none bigger than the celebration in the town of Juana Diaz.

Thing is, my Mom’s maternal family is from Juana Diaz, so that Fiesta de Reyes is not only a national celebration, it is also a family tradition, one that has gone unbroken for at least the last 50-60 years (and probably longer – I need to find out for sure)[1]. Every year, all of us living in the San Juan area, would jump into our cars early in the morning and trek down the 2 or so hours to the Ortiz household right on the town’s main street to the central plaza, and spend the day there, wandering the plaza, checking out all the artisans and their wares, and the various musical acts as well. Then we’d have tons of food over at the house, and go back at night, tired and stuffed and happy.

Obviously, not being Catholic anymore, Three Kings Day has no meaning for me, at least not religiously. I can honestly say the religious aspect of the day ceased to have any impact on me even before I moved from Puerto Rico, much more so now that I am Jewish, but the family tradition aspect of it, that still has a pull. It’s been about nine years since I last went to Juana Diaz, but every January 6 I would get a call from Mom from Juana Diaz and at least for a few moments I’d be a part of it.

This morning I was the one to make the call, to my Aunt, and at least for a couple of minutes I was a part of it again. I wish I was able to teleport, so I could be with my family for a little bit then return home for dinner. At least my sister is there with my nephews representing our family nucleus.

This is just a constant with which I live: the biggest drawback to having converted to Judaism was the rift it created regarding my family traditions. I mean, it’s not like I can’t ever go to a family celebration, but it is different. I can’t eat with everyone, for example, and food is one of those universal social glues that hold bonds together. Being that Puerto Rico is very much a Catholic country, the difference in religion is a big deal, especially during Christmas, when a huge part of Puerto Rican culture gets displayed (be it in food, holidays, celebrations, art, music, etc). The physical separation between PR and Miami offers a buffer but every so often emotions seep through, like today.

Like I said, it’s just a reality of my choice in life. I accept it and live with it, even if sometimes, for a little bit, I look with a small amount of longing at what was.

[1] I had my sister ask around while she was in Juana Diaz, and as far as anyone can tell, the tradition of our family to get together there for Fiesta de Reyes is about 100 years old. That is powerful, and I need to reflect on that more.

Categories: Editorials, Religion Tags: ,

Second Update on Mom’s Condition

Over the last week, Mom’s condition has continued to decline. The fentanyl patch was increased to 75mg and this has caused her to be in a constant in-and-out of wakefulness; she’ll have a couple hours each day where she’s very awake, but other than that she’s sleepy or zoned out. It has managed most of her pain, however, so it is a help in that sense.

The X-rays taken revealed that the blockage in her intestine is total: there is just absolutely no movement in the digestive system and nothing, not even liquid, is getting through the blockage. Her only option at this point is surgery. The surgeon spoke to her and made it clear that any surgical procedure on Mom was far from routine and carried many risks. He will operate only because it is the one chance she has at any kind of healing from this condition, and he will only do so once he has taken all the preparatory steps needed and gathered all the materials he’ll need in case of an emergency. We’re looking at mid- to late next week for the operation if she doesn’t get any worse. It is her decision to go into surgery, and she is still, dazed as she might be at times, fully conscious of what’s going on, and what could happen.

My sister is now here from Orlando, and so is my wife and Mom-in-law till Monday (as of now), so I have had help at the hospital. As soon as we know when the surgery will be I’ll update.

Please continue to keep her in your prayers.

I’ll continue to update as I can. I sometimes send little updates during the day to my personal Twitter account at (if you don’t have Twitter, you can just scan that URL for updates) and I’ll keep posting updates here as I can.

Categories: Editorials Tags: ,

Say a Psalm/Prayer for Mom

I’ve never asked anything like this, but there’s no reason not to right now.

I would like to ask any and everyone who reads this to say Psalm 20 for the healing of Wanda Iris Robles Ortiz, whether you are Jewish or Christian, or simply acknowledge the Psalms as holy writings. I even have a link to the psalm online for you to make it easy! For non-JudeoChristians, then I please ask you say a brief prayer for the healing of my mother, phrased however it is proper in your tradition. For my non-believer friends, a simple heartfelt wish for my mother’s healing will be as welcomed.

I don’t need to know you did it, so don’t tell me. But let me thank you beforehand.

Categories: Editorials, Religion Tags: ,

Update on Mom’s Condition

How many of these have I done by now?

By now you know that I returned to Miami last Friday only to learn that Mom went back into the hospital on Saturday. I flew in to Puerto Rico again yesterday early in the morning after she got really bad on Monday night; I just didn’t want to run any chances of being away if/when needed.

I found her yesterday tired, very tired, and weak. Fairly stable, though, especially considering the scare she gave everyone the night before. She’s on an IV nutrient since she cannot digest anything, and on a fentanyl patch to control the pain. Her hemoglobin has been stable, thank G-d, so there doesn’t seem to be any major bleed in the body. Yesterday she had a series of X-rays done with a barium contrast, of her stomach and a series of her small intestine. She has one more X-ray today at the 24 hour mark from the start of the study, and every single doctor is waiting for these results to have a better picture of what exactly is going on in her GI tract.

I’ll continue to update as I can. I sometimes send little updates during the day to my personal Twitter account at (if you don’t have Twitter, you can just scan that URL for updates) and I’ll keep posting updates here as I can.

Categories: Editorials Tags: ,

Flying Back to Puerto Rico

June 22, 2009 1 comment

I fly out to Puerto Rico again Tuesday morning at 6 AM.

Categories: Editorials Tags: ,

Here We Go Again

June 20, 2009 1 comment

Got a call this morning from my aunt: Mom went back into the hospital today.

Lord give me strength.

Categories: Editorials Tags: ,

Returning to Miami

With Mom, my sister and nephews at the beach in Luquillo I return to Miami today and leave Mom fairly stable, but at least out of the hospital. She was discharged last Sunday, and by Wednesday morning we were back at the ER because she had not properly digested the food she ate on Tuesday and her stomach was destroyed. On Wednesday morning I was afraid she would be hospitalized again, but thank G-d she wasn’t. Then this morning there was another scare, but eventually she got better on her own and not only did she eat some crackers, we were able to take her to the beach, nearby.

I’m dead beat, and tired to the bone. Even now I am awake as I get ready to fly out to Miami, having just finished packing my suitcase. I know I’m gonna crash once I sit in the plane. I return worried but thankful for the few victories we had: hemoglobin stable and even increasing a bit after discharge; digestive system settling down and starting to work with Mom, not against her; not in the hospital.

Here’s hoping that my next trip is under far better circumstances.

Categories: Editorials Tags: ,

(Yet Another) Update from Puerto Rico

I’ve been here for a week now and things have been very much up and down, though looking to stabilize now. My wife joined me down here last week, which was heaven-sent as she’s my pillar of strength and she was able to lend me her support during a couple of rough spots during the weekend. Mom continues in the hospital and she’s still loosing blood through G-d-knows-where; she’s been transfused a total of 6 pints of blood since Thursday, May 28th and she may have one more put in tomorrow. For the most part she’s managing her pain in the legs and back, though a few times she’s been surprised by how bad the pain can get if she doesn’t take her medicines on time. Honestly, we’re at a loss at the moment as to what to do next, though of immediate concern is getting her digestive tract working properly on its own and trying to slow down the internal bleed (99% sure it’s in the small intestine). Thankfully, overall she’s been strong and willfull, so that helps immensely (plus I know me being here helps). If she’s stable enough I have plans to take a night off to hang out with my friends and roleplay a bit (the Star Wars: The Sith Triumvirate Primetime Adventures game) this coming Wednesday. I’ll continue to update as we move along.

Categories: Editorials Tags: ,

Flying Back to Puerto Rico

June 1, 2009 1 comment

Mom’s situation has gotten delicate so I am flying today (in about 2 hours, actually) back to PR.

As always, I enter a low-online-access zone. I will try to do updates as I can (check my @Highmoon account on Twitter, as I can text messages from my phone there).

I will thank you ahead of time for all the good wishes and prayers. G-d knows we need them.

Categories: Editorials Tags: ,

[Primetime Adventures] Star Wars: The Sith Triumvirate – Webisode

Read the reports for the Pilot and Episode 01.

After playing the first regular episode for about 2 1/2 hours, and knowing I would be flying back to Miami in a few days, everyone agreed to push ahead and play another episode, even though it was just shy of Midnight. A bathroom break later, we sat down to play. This episode was the Enforcer’s character spotlight episode.

Season 1, Webisode

I dove right into the thick of things, riding on the momentum of the previous episode, and used the Archivist’s Next Time On scene to open. As he looked out the observation deck of his Death Star, a contingent of Storm Troopers surrounded him, while one of his officers asked him to please not make this difficult. Because of the time they had served the Sith Lord, the officer was willing to let him go if he did it in the next 5 seconds. The Archivist pondered for a moment, and as he was about to accept the offer, one of the Storm Troopers started to count. Big mistake. The Archivist called a conflict to deal with these traitorous scum; he won, easily (I didn’t provide much opposition either, just enough to get some Fan Mail on the table), leading to his Next Time On moment as he Force-choked the officer whom he had give explicit orders to not be disturbed. The deed done, and knowing he had just signed his own warrant, the Archivist engaged the Death Star’s auto-destruct, though not before using the station’s laser to obliterate the cloning facility on the planet below, along with a good chunk of the planet itself.

Read more…