Gratitude for Those who Helped Me Survive (and Thrive) in 2013

My oldest child had surgery earlier this month, which forced me to completely slow down and stay home in a caregiver role. As a business owner, in previous years this necessary medical activity would surely have led to thoughts of lost productivity and anxiety. But this is 2013- the year I was violently mugged and injured and the year my two other children had brushes with death.

So to satisfy my need to write one more article before the end of the year, I have chosen to only write about one thing: GRATITUDE.

I have tremendous gratitude to the lady who was there to call 911 as I got hit from behind simultaneously by two violent ghosts I never saw. Without her assistance and description of the attackers, it would have been a very empty police report. The evil pair apparently had watched me before I left the coffee shop before dark because they knew where I had secured my smartphone; I lost my laptop, phone and sense of security that night, about five feet away from my car. I’m grateful too that they wanted my tech and not my life.

I am grateful for Linda, our former au pair from Germany who took care of me when we arrived in her town for our long-anticipated first European vacation with our children; my knee injury from the April mugging lead to a subsequent worse injury on a Belgian train within an hour of our arrival. That was followed by crutches, an orthopedic appointment in a German hospital, a wheelchair, prescription drugs. Without Linda’s help there and elsewhere, our family vacation would have been a complete disaster. Thank you Linda for your love, assistance and extraordinary patience with your comadre!958782_10201201056567817_119106324_o 968671_10201212361410431_366584603_o 987086_10201212341009921_429794170_o 958205_10201206226497062_48352660_o




I’m extraordinarily grateful to our former au pairs in Germany and their families for their tremendous hospitality and for assistance rendered to the injured “host mom.” Thank you Gaby and Rolfy for hosting our family in your home in Germany and for memories that will truly last a lifetime! Thank you Mandy for 24 phenomenal hours in Braunschweig. Thank you Nansin and your family for meals in Bebra that we’ll never, ever forget (or work off!) Thank you Gunther and Rolfy for pushing me up and down hills along the Rhine River in Cologne and giving my husband a break.959282_10201189656442821_1243555512_o

I am indescribably grateful to my husband Genro who spent our vacation that wasn’t, pushing me in a wheelchair in four European countries, in train stations, airports and cobblestone streets. Imagine Venice, Italy, the city of canals and hundreds of stepped bridges. Now imagine Venice in a wheelchair – nightmare! My husband’s physical and character strength was my crutch when it all got to be too much for me one particularly difficult day in that city.958896_10201212194206251_1431647764_o968614_10201212227247077_1599389109_o 958247_10201206272898222_74627091_o968629_10201206284178504_1689928554_o




I am grateful to the driver of the SUV who somehow managed to avoid hitting my nine year-old daughter on the 4th of July as she decided to sprint across the street back to me when all the cars were stopped watching fireworks…or so she assumed. If you’ve ever watched your child miss certain death by about three inches as you scream her name, you know exactly how traumatized I still am by that moment, and how truly grateful I am to hug her tightly every day and night. If you never have endured that horror, count yourself double lucky.

With the backdrop of all that going on in the first half of the year, I am deeply, deeply grateful to the entire team of creative women who helped me birth my first bilingual children’s book, Good Night Captain Mama, on our planned launch date of July 4th weekend. 1048614_10201460426411901_1586154727_oWe somehow got there despite the mugging, the broken femur and the wrecked car and other unpleasant things that happened to several of us on the team. Small business owners are ferociously tenacious creatures, aren’t we? I’m proud to call Ruth and Suzi friends and express gratitude for pushing with me all the way to the end. Linda, Anabel, Rosi and Ivonne – thank you for all you did to keep the project on track and excellent.

I am forever grateful to my friend Stacy who was watching my kids when I was at a physical therapy appointment to heal my injured knee. It was that hour of that summer day my son choked on a Lego while using his teeth to pull two pieces apart. Thank you Stacy for the quick thinking and knowing how to do the Heimlich maneuver! How do you express gratitude to the friend who saved your son? I’m trying….

I’m grateful to Dr. Angelica Perez, founder of the ELLA Leadership Institute and the ground-breaking Latinas Think Big event that took place at Google’s L.A. office in October. I met many of the women from the Latina Leadership Network Facebook group, most notably my host in L.A. Gina Espinoza and Dr. Nelly Cardinale who traveled from Miami. 1379520_10202183776695206_2131983286_n1278871_10202177096808213_1084989899_o 1272967_10202170868572511_336580214_oIt was the first time that a Fortune 100 corporation had hosted a Latina leadership event and it foreshadows what’s to come. Thank you ladies. Thank you Angelica, a woman I know will be my life-long amiga.

I am grateful for artist America (of Global America) who arranged for me to attend the California Hispanic Chamber of Commerce convention as an exhibitor. Relationships started that day led to all kinds of wonderful activities in the latter half of 2013. I met John Estrada and Duane Goff of the storied American GI Forum. One Friday night, a Facebook message from John “Can you be in a parade in San Jose on Monday?” led to a conversation with his sister Marie of the AGIF and a dinner in San Jose where I met a kindred spirit named Gloria sitting with Duane. That chat with Marie also led to one of the best memories for my family and I for 2013.

1412420_10202404748019351_660329088_oI am deeply grateful to the AGIF for honoring me in the San Jose Veterans Day Parade and to Tony of Blvd Bombs, owner of the gorgeous, red 1953 Bel-Air convertible lowrider, who drove my children and I in the parade. We will always remember the sign on the car introducing us to the crowd as “Captain Graciela Tiscareno-Sato, Captain, Iraq, U.S. Air Force” as we shared our ride with former Navy SEAL Leonard Sanchez and my hubby marched ahead of us as a part of the color guard. 996651_1420000241562395_406088992_nWhat a happy, joyous day after all the trauma we had survived the previous months!


Thank you America, John, Duane, Marie, Gloria and all the Latino military veterans my son met at the AGIF dinner that night. You all made quite an impression on all of us! I was truly honored to meet each of you and look forward to 2014 activities.1412811_10202404749099378_1808230199_o

I’m grateful to all of the reporters, editors, journalists and producers who responded to our bilingual media blitz for Veterans Day to promote our children’s book nationally, with the strong message that “Mommies and Latinas are veterans too!” Judging by the media response, the country is ready to see more positive images of women and Latinos in military uniforms in service to this nation we love dearly. Thank you National Public Radio, CNN, Univision, Voz de America and the many others who amplified this message this fall.

I’m grateful to people like Irene Vilar, who have huge visions to do important things in the world and have the ability to make those things actually happen. 739993_10202480073182433_992632171_oI’m grateful for her vision to create the first annual Americas Latino Festival in Colorado and her ability to attract a global, environmentally-committed creative community of speakers, authors, artists, entrepreneurs, and for including me in this labor of love. Those four days in the state where I grew up, getting to spend more than one minute chatting with my fellow 1402225_10202482562124655_983747153_oauthor Rick Najera, presenting with Saachi & Saachi S marketing guru Nayelli Gonzalez, visiting my sister and returning to my home town of Evans and high school in Greeley – priceless.

I am extraordinarily grateful to my brother Ben who arrived ahead of my daughter’s surgery to help with business operations, housework, homework and entertaining my children as only an uncle can do. What a blessing! Thank you Ben.

Lastly, I am grateful that my parents are healthy, happy and were able to drive to California to be with us for the surgery day and recovery that followed during the holidays. 1479068_10202661525518628_130921414_nThey spent the entire day at the hospital with my husband so I could keep the other two children on their school routine and keep their experience as normal as possible. How do you express gratitude for parents who will be there for you under these circumstances? All I can do is try. Gracias Mami y Papi por estar con nosotros en este tiempo, como siempre han estado. And gracias too Mami, for making the bunelos with me on Christmas Eve! 1471344_10202696169904716_1089152586_n

I am truly blessed to have spent this holiday season with my parents and brother in our home, helping me nurse our daughter through her post-op recovery, for her healthy attitude through it all and for all the amazing adventures we have shared at area Mission lands, Las Posadas on John Muir’s property, the ocean, the dinner at the marina…..I’m truly, truly grateful to have survived this year, surrounded always in love.

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12 Responses to Gratitude for Those who Helped Me Survive (and Thrive) in 2013

  1. Wow! This is such a powerful sharing, Graciela. You have been a powerful inspiration to me, and your friendship means so very much to me. I admire your strength, determination, and commitment to the things that matter most in life. Thank you for sharing this beautiful note of gratitude. May 2014 be as brilliant to you, as you are to me.



  2. Sue Douglass says:

    Best wishes for 2014 – for all of you.
    Grace, what was Milagro’s surgery for? You seem very reluctant to let us know – I haven’t seen anything in your posts. Glad she has come through it so well.
    Glad to see you, too, any time you want the piano.

  3. Thanks so much for including me in your blog, I am so honored. It was so amazing being able to meet and spend the weekend in LA with you and Gina. I had a very memorable weekend, I was especially delighted to visit Hollywood for the first time for the purpose of watching the premiere of the movie ‘REBEL’ and after meeting the producer, Maria Agui Carter. Not to mention that I also loved attending the ‘LATINAS THINK BIG’ tour, which was founded by Dr. Angelica Perez at the Google Headquarters located in Venice Beach, CA. Additionally, I also really enjoyed reading your ‘LATINNOVATING’ book and I am just treasuring my autographed copy. In my opinion, your book will go a long way as far as inspiring young minds everywhere to think green and to consider careers and/or becoming entrepreneurs in this field. I look forward to seeing you again in the future, perhaps at a future ‘LATINAS THINK BIG’ event. In any case, just remember that you have a place to stay in my home in Florida if you come this way. I am wishing you and your family the best the new year has to offer. Thanks again for the mention.

  4. Benjamin Tiscareno says:

    My inspirational sister Grace, thank you for lettting me indulge my personality with your kids. I learn so much from them, and from watching how you and Papa Sato raise them. Thank you for the seeds you planted in my mind during my first visit in January. The changes that have come upon me this year have sprung directly from them. I love you sister, and am eternally happy to be your little brother!

  5. Linda Falter says:

    I have to thank you for including me into your loving, huggable, inspiring, adorable and amazing family!! It was a great time enjoying Europe with you! I wish we would have had more time together here because there are so many things I would have shown to you!!
    My parents and Günter are so happy being able to give the hospitality back to you!! It was a great time spending in CA with you and all the things you did for us while they were there and during my two years for me!!

    I wish you a healthy and amazing 2014!!
    Hope to see you again soon!!

  6. Grace – I finally had a chance to read this amazing post. Yes, I count you among my friends, and it was great to get caught up on all of the things that happened for you this year that I had not yet heard about.

    My femur break is healing well, although I am still walking with a cane. Hope to be walking normally when I see you in a few weeks.

    Much love to you and your family, and let’s create an awesome 2014 together!

  7. grace says:


    You’ve said it before, we’re sisters from different mothers. 🙂 I appreciate you and your friendship deeply. We’re headed for achieving the social impacts we’re both intent on creating, I know it – I can’t wait to see where we’ll be in five years!! Thank you amiga.

  8. grace says:


    You’re welcome! You were truly a blessing to me this year. I wanted you to know. 🙂


  9. grace says:

    Thanks Linda. I can’t wait until the day we’re all together again somewhere. 🙂

  10. Duane Goff says:


    It is always wonderful to know people who understand their abundance and are thankful for their blessings. Always remember, the AGIF didn’t honor you because you are a good person, although you are. You were honored because, with your service in the Air Force, you honored America, and especially Latinas/Latinos and women. You were honored because you earned it!

  11. grace says:


    I’m additionally blessed to have people like you in my life to remind me of these important differences I must appreciate.
    Thank you!


  12. grace says:

    Thank you Duane. I love your kind words. I appreciate the validation of my military service and the work I do today to tell our stories. Gracias!

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