Dads are More Than DNA

Sixteen years is way too young to lose your father to a stroke. I was blessed to have had my father, Andrew Lococo, during those early years. I miss eating popcorn on his lap and watching TV, horseback riding at summer camp and seeing him and Mom tap dance and sing “Me and my shadow” together. He truly cared and loved me … even if I wasn’t his biological daughter. He taught me, “family is who you love and who loves you.”

My Dad was more than DNA!

  • D-dynamic: a successful  restauranteur, philanthropist, bocce ball player, awesome cipino chef and a great friend to many.
  • N-nurturing: in his own Italian way. He made sure I had what I needed – the best Catholic schools, summer camp adventures, love and security.
  • A-advocate! My Dad “had my back”.  His priority was giving me a great education and opportunities to learn and travel abroad, to embrace new experiences and meet people from different cultures because he knew that would help me grow as an adult.

Truly, my knight, who every day shines brightly in  my heart … and a part of my DNA!

– Melanie Lococo

 

 

 

 

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Afro and Angels: A Teen’s Triumph

She perched silently above the azure-blue water, awaiting her chosen fate. Judy grabbed the sharp, shiny scissors, and pointed at Melanie: “Are you ready?” She nodded. “Ok, snip, Snip, SNIP.” Melanie cringed as she watched her curly thick semi-straightened hair dissolve like cotton candy into the water below.

“Oh, no!” she gasped, holding back tears. At 14, Melanie felt like a boy. She touched her newly cropped Afro and began to fret about her parents going ballistic over her drastic hair cut. After all, she left for her Hawaiian Christmas vacation with shoulder-length, shiny, straight black hair with a part down the middle — covered by a white linen cap with bright red plastic cherries on the side!

 She anxiously paced the floor, telling her friends that she felt her parents wanted her hair to be straight, and to look just right, to fit in like the other young girls at her private school – to “be” just right!

“Wrong – it’s all wrong,” she exclaimed. “I must be myself. I love my own hair: no chemicals, no burning, no ouch, and no more Cousin Lucy fixing it. I’ve wanted it this way for a long time.”

Late the night before her departure for home, Melanie sank her head into the pillow and prayed. “Oh dear God, help me. Show me what to do, what to say to my parents.”

Curling up in her bed like the lonely hermit crab she collected on the beach, Melanie sighed. “I must be strong when I talk to my parents – at least appear to be strong, on the outside, like the hermit crab.

When the plane parked at the gate, Melanie’s heart fluttered like a thousand butterfly wings. Emerging from the plane, she felt like she was moving in slow motion. Her feet stuck to the ground.

Melanie’s parents were at the gate, bobbing up and down, waving, and happy to greet their daughter.

She held her breath for a moment and, with a perky smile, she gave them kisses and hugs. Then – whoosh – off with the hat!

“What in the *#%x+ happened to your hair?” her father screamed, so loudly that passengers in the other terminal could hear him as if on loud speakers!

 Shriveled up like the hermit crab, Melanie said: “I cut it off. I like it this way. It’s natural!”

 Mother – stunned and speechless at her husband’s unusual behavior, and her daughter’s assertiveness – -smiled a big grin. Melanie’s father barked: “Put your hat back on. We’re going home and calling cousin Lucy right away.”

 Silent and sunken in the back seat of the car, she feverishly thought: “How can I convince my parents to keep my hair the way I want? My hair is natural and easy to manage this way.”

 “They are business people, and they won’t have to pay cousin Lucy to straighten it anymore. That won’t work: the “real” truth.” She sighed. “I want my hair this way because it’s me – my own hair.”

Later that day, Melanie sat at the desk in her bedroom and took out her best stationery. She wrote a letter to her parents – in her best penmanship. Shaking at first as she scribbled, then becoming straight and secure – she wrote: “Dear Mom and Dad. I know you are mad at me. Please let me keep my hair this way. It is natural and easy to take care of. Love, your daughter, Melanie.”

She folded the letter perfectly and placed it like a crown on her father’s pillow – and dashed down the stairs. Biting her nails more than usual, she stayed up late that night, anxious, and with a stomach ache, expecting them to come in and give the unwelcomed verdict!

Not one word that night, or the next morning, or the day after – or ever again!

Her parents silently agreed to let her grow her naturally curly hair as big as she wanted! To embrace her unique heritage with bright, colorful ethnic clothing, with exotic and Middle Eastern and African fabrics, shoes, music, dance. They embraced her for the loving and special child of theirs!

And she was happy, and so were her parents – her angels on Earth.

 REFLECTIONS ON ADOPTION

 If your child is from a different culture/race/heritage from you, it is imperative to embrace the child’s natural heritage. Seek to nurture their gifts and unique talents, and to provide music, dance, and clothing that makes them comfortable with themselves and with the world around them.

Because my parents were at first upset and shocked, they didn’t know how I felt. When I affirmed my self – stood up and declared my preference – they listened and accepted my request wholeheartedly. They helped me through my rite of passage to triumph, and become a well-rounded adult.

Parents and those touched by adoption – Remember to be Angels to these children whom you are blessed to be in their presence. Nurture them, affirm them, celebrate their uniqueness.

Please visit my website [http://www.melanielococo.com] for more reflections, stories, and upcoming events and programs.

All the best to you and your family!

Melanie

The Two Most Important Days of Your Life

When I embarked upon this adventure of journaling, I sent a prayer to God asking for love and guidance.

“Dear God and Divine Mother,

You know my heart of hearts and why I came on this Earth – you were right there with me. You know me better than myself. I am your child. Guide me as I leap off the cliff – and fly! What I want so deeply to know is that I will soar through the skies of life – in these days. What I have to share is helpful, meaningful, contributes to my highest good, and to everyone around me. I recently read one of Mark Twain’s quotes: ‘The two most important days of your life are the day you were born and the day you find out why.’ I have a deep core feeling why I was born and I’m beginning to put legs to it by writing. The wings will eventually form. I want to know that you will be there with me and keep me in the air… getting a bird’s eye view from above and seeing my path very clearly.

Love, your child, Melanie”

And as I listened within, I journaled what God and Divine Mother wrote back.

“Oh honey pie – no worries. We got your back. You just keep on going, writing, expressing yourself, have fun, open up, let it out. We are here lifting you up. Remember when you and all the family had the trampoline in the back yard, and you jumped really high, and you felt you almost touched the sky? The freedom, fun, the excitement, the fright, and knowing you could do flips, tumbles, and still land safely on the trampoline – that’s it. Write, share, and show up! You are loved and supported unconditionally. We are here for you always. Close your eyes, feel your heart – we are here with you in your heart — a portable paradise — friends forever.

– God and Divine Mother

P.S. When you doubt and have fear, remember to breathe deeply and keep going – really, you’re much closer to accomplishing your dreams than you know.”

Please visit my website for more stories, reflections and upcoming events: http://www.melanielococo.com

They Broke the Mold: My Father and Nelson “Madiba” Mandela

Sixteen years old is way too young to lose your father. My mother gently gathered together my two brothers and me like a mama-bird and her young chicks. With tears in her eyes, she said, “Dad broke the mold. No one can ever replace him.”

I bowed my head and nodded – so true, my heart ached, yet I appreciated that I was blessed to have had him in my life for a short, yet meaningful, time.

He shaped my youth, providing opportunities that young girls would have dreamed of. Because my parents worked at the restaurant 24/7, we had no time for vacations. I traveled with friends abroad, attended the best schools, had fun at summer camp, and was even enrolled in modeling classes. I had the life of a princess, and he was my king. The mold was broken when Dad passed away.

His uniqueness of spirit, kindness, compassion, power, charity, tenacity, love of family and friends was incomparable and uncompromising. I only wish he was with me much longer – to love, protect, and guide me – and for me to love him.

Like my father, Nelson “Madiba” Mandela also broke the mold. No one can ever replace him. His life is an example of a diamond, shining brightly in a world of hate, ignorance, prejudice, violence, suffering, unfairness, and meanness. He broke the mold in many ways, mostly from his magnanimity to forgive his enemies . . . those who tortured him and tried to break his spirit, and decimate his will power.

In Latin, the word “forgive” means to release. He was able in those charcoal nights in that cold, cramped, damp, dark, and lonely cell, to transform his lead-hardened thoughts into gold. He is a diamond of compassion who focused on the future and love for his country and fellow South Africans. He released and let go of the burden of misunderstandings, and lived on a higher plane. He forgave and his life became … alchemy of the spirit.

Oh dear Nelson Mandela, thank you for being our adopted father to our world family. I believe family is who you love and who loves you. Dear Madiba, your heart was large enough to embrace all of us around the globe. Your life is a testament that shined brightly and showed us how to follow our convictions, to stand tall and proud, and know our worth as human beings and children of God. You taught us to forgive your enemies, for as you forgave your enemies, you released and let go of suffering in order to live a life filled with purpose and grace.

 The mold has been broken and we have been blessed.  Hail! Chief and Father Mandela, your ancestral tribe and world family embrace and honor your life.

With gratitude and love,

Melanie Lococo

December 9, 2013

Please visit my website for more stories, reflections, and upcoming events: http://www.melanielococo.com

Welcome

Why start a blog the day before Thanksgiving?

Most people are preparing their Thanksgiving feast – basting turkey, seasoning stuffing, creating cranberry sauce, and making all the goodies  – to be relished with family and friends.

I am starting this journey of blogging to celebrate my life as a child of God, and as an adoptee, who has had many transformative events in her life that happened during the month of November.

I was born on November 8th.

In my youth, every Thanksgiving, our family hosted a huge, elaborate, gorgeous, fun-filled, and food-filled dinner at our own popular Italian restaurant. My relatives came from far and near to be together. I remember lots of hugs and kisses and warm affection from my cousins, aunts, uncles, and large extended family. I loved dancing on my father’s shoes; he would hold my hands and lift me up. One of my first memories was being embraced, while being saturated with the smell of garlic. I equate the aroma of garlic with love.

It was glorious to be together. The next day was special, too; all the children boarded a bus to Disneyland to enjoy the Magic Kingdom. My life was filled with magic.

It ended abruptly. During Thanksgiving weekend, when I had just turned 16, my beloved father passed away from a stroke. We never had a family gathering like that ever again.

This blog is dedicated to my father, Andrew Lococo. He is my knight-in-shining-armor, my protector, my advocate, and my hero.