Spanish Lessons

A few years ago my husband was planting seeds with his father who suffered from dementia.

What are these?

They’re pumpkin seeds.

But what do they make?

They’re pumpkin seeds. They are going to be pumpkins.

What’s that?

You know, pumpkins. They are orange and big and round. People make them into pies or carve them for Halloween.

You may be right. I’m sorry. I don’t remember that.

You don’t remember Halloween? People wear costumes…kids get candy….

You may be right. I’m sorry. I don’t know.

With my father-in-law’s dementia, the first thing to go was his language. Which you might think is not that big of a deal. A word here, a word there.

But as we quickly learned, words are concepts, memories, experiences. When you lose the word “pumpkin” and “Halloween”, you also lose the memory of 70 years worth of costumes and jack-o-lanterns.

When we don’t have the words to describe an experience, we don’t have that experience anymore.

But what happens when we get new words to describe our experience?

This is the question in the Spanish Lesson essays. I’ve been trying to learn Spanish for the last 10 years. And what I’ve actually learned is that learning a new language, learning new words for familiar experiences has been like turning over a rock to find things creepy, crawlies underneath. Oh, they are here, too!  

In La Puerta Falsa I realize that a classmate’s suicide actually taught me to question orthodoxy, in La Temporada I realized that the seasons of my life are both sickening and sweet. In Mi Casa es Tu Casa I learn that while we don’t share a house or a life, we do sometimes share diapers. 

I hope you enjoy some Spanish Lessons.

No Manejas Cansada

La Temporada

Mi Casa es Su Casa (originally published in


A Que Te Dedicas (originally published in

Me Presta Tu Bebe?

La Puerta Falsa

Ama De Casa

Mi Vida

Buenos Noeches

Un Momentito





%d bloggers like this: