A Wonderful Day

I worked last night and got home about 7:30 am. I was exhausted. It was about 55 degrees outside (which is pretty cold for a South Texas winter) and my room was cold and dark and the sheets in my bed were especially cold, just the way I like them. I crawled into bed and sank into a deep sleep. I woke up to the regular sounds of my three teenaged children milling about the house and to the sounds of two dogs barking at each other. This is pretty much my regular alarm clock on a weekend day and although its a Wednesday and my two youngest are in high school, they’re all on Thanksgiving break and everyone was home. My regular ritual is to watch an episode or two of The Office with my son, heat up some leftovers from whatever was leftover from dinner the night before and after to figure out what I want to do with the few free hours I have before I go back to work. Fortunately, today….I’m off so I have about 30 hours before I have to be at work again.

Sarah is my middle daughter. I’ve written about her before. She’s my artist. She’s the typical middle child and keeps us on our toes. She’s the world traveler and the one child that I have that has an extremely difficult time taking “No” for an answer. When she gets something in her mind. She does whatever possible to make that thing come to fruition. As I was figuring out what to wear for the afternoon, (which is typically a pair of khakis covered in paint, polyurethane, and wood glue) Sarah comes to my room and says, “Dad, is it okay if I take Nova to the beach? Mom said to ask you.” Nova is Sarah’s Weimeraner puppy. I say puppy but she’s going to be a big dog so she doesn’t seem much like a pup. Sarah’s always loved dogs….even when we didn’t have room for one, she always tried her hardest to convince us that a dog was a good idea.

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There’s a few things I have learned over the years with Sarah. If she says, “mom said to ask you” what that means is that her mother said “no” and Sarah wouldn’t let up and my wife finally said, “WHATEVER!! I SAID NO! ASK YOUR FATHER!” That basically means that I should be reading my wife’s mind and should automatically say “no.” The mistake I have made in the past is that I have given in to my daughter’s desires. I have a tendency to see no harm in what she wants to do and then later realize that although my wife did say “ask your father”, I should have known to say “no” and I reaped the whirlwind when she finds out that Sarah did exactly what she was told not to do by her mother. I’ve become the expert after several negative experiences and I told Sarah, “Let me call your mother.” I automatically knew that she had been told “no” by the look on Sarah’s face as if I had just taken the wind out of her sails. I called my wife and sure enough…. she had said “no” and strictly for safety reasons. She didn’t want Sarah taking the dog to the beach by herself in the event that there was one of the thousands of un-caught serial killers at the beach, searching for seashells or surfing or fishing (things serial killers typically have as their hobbies).

When I saw how discouraged Sarah looked, I decided to go ahead and forego my daily rituals or plans for the day (which had not yet been made) and I told her, “Let’s go Lu. I’ll go with you.”

When my children were little and I was a returning college student I had very little money. I had lost my job and me and my family were living in an efficiency apartment. We weren’t shopping for fun, going to the movies, traveling, etc. We didn’t have the funds to do these things. We would take the kids to the beach. I would take them on nature walks. At one point, we would go around and collect aluminum cans and at the end of the week, we would turn them in and I would take the kids to dollar movie and to Wendy’s for burgers and frostees. When I would take the kids on walks, Sarah always wanted to take a ziploc baggie. She wanted to collect leaves and sticks, and any other interesting items that she could find. On occasion, she would find a lady bug and this was definitely the highlight of the week.

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When we got to the beach all of those memories of Sarah picking up every little cool item she could find came rushing back. She ran and played with her dog and as we walked down the beach, she started picking up starfish that were still alive and throwing them back into the water. She said she would like to find a dead starfish with all the arms intact. Then she said that she knows that the stores that sell the whole starfish get them when they are alive and so she feels terrible because she knows that they kill them. She’s a good hearted kid to think this way. We continued on our walk and I took several pictures and we collected shells for her to make hair clips and I picked up crab shells to make an art piece later while Nova picked up every disgusting thing she could find with her mouth. I guess dogs just tend to do that and we tend to forget because as we drove home, we let her give us dog kisses and didn’t think twice about it.

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I pulled up to the house and told Sarah, “I’m glad I went Sarah.” She said, “it was a perfect day to go to the beach.” I agreed and said, “it was a perfect day.” She got out and took Nova out of the truck and headed toward the back yard. What I meant to say was “It was a perfect day because I got to spend time with my daughter. I’ll never forget days like today. I love you Angel.”

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To the Residents of 1103 NW 12th St.

I heard a song earlier today, The House that Built Me, and it desperately made me want to visit my childhood home. I thought that the least I could do was ask so I wrote this letter to the current resident of the home I grew up in. I also had this idea that it would be so cool to hear about other people’s experiences that did the same thing. I was fortunate that my childhood home was full of love and attention. Sometimes the attention came in the form of discipline I thought I could have lived without but it was good for me and shaped me into who I am today. If you haven’t visited your childhood home and this entry leads you to ask to do it, please, let me know how it went. i’ll keep you updated if I hear a response. Here is the letter I wrote to the people living in the House that Built Me.

Dear residents of 1103 NW 12th St.,

This may be the most bizarre letter you have ever received at your home. My name is David Barrera. I was born and raised in Andrews, TX. In fact, I was brought home from the hospital to your home and lived there until I left home after my graduation from high school. Like most 17-year-old kids from Andrews, TX, I couldn’t wait to spread my wings and fly and get away from that small town. I literally left Andrews, TX the morning after my high school graduation and moved to Corpus Christi. That was in 1988. I drove away and saw my parents standing in the front yard near the three trees that they had planted for each one of us; my mother in tears and my father with a somber look on his face. I didn’t realize how difficult this was for them until I became a parent. I have three children now.

My parents sold the house in 1991 and moved to Corpus Christi. Shortly after my parents moved to Corpus Christi, I moved to Houston. I remember when my parents got to Corpus Christi, my mother was very depressed. She cried for several days because she missed the home that she had raised me and my two older siblings in. I know the house has changed but I remember my brother and I helping my dad as he built on to the back of the house. As a child, my brother and shared the bedroom at the end and to the left of the hallway. My parents bedroom was right across the hallway, the one with the bathroom in it. My sister’s bedroom was right across from the hallway bathroom, close to the living room. The layout of the house may be very different now, I don’t know. As we got older, my father built a playroom at the back of the house. He had a small study attached to the playroom and there was a small bedroom at the very back of the house with a door that led to the back yard. That little room with the bathroom in it became my brothers room and later, that playroom became my parents master bedroom and my brothers little room became their walk in closet/bathroom. I could go on and on describing the house the way it was back then.

I did not go back to Andrews until July 2010. I still have some friends there that I connected with on Facebook and I went to see them and to see the little town that I had left behind back in 1988. I walked through the neighborhood, stopped and visited Mrs. Clark, next door to your house, and Billie Jones, catty-corner from your house. While I was at Billie Jones’ house, I told her that I would have loved to see the house but I didn’t have the nerve to ask to walk through. I thought it would have been inappropriate.

I’m a therapist in Corpus Christi now. After I left Houston, I moved back to Corpus Christi with my wife and children. Today, I was driving back to Corpus Christi from visiting two families in Laredo. I do assessments of people’s homes that are adopting children. As I was driving a song came on the radio called “The House that Built Me.” I got emotional when I heard this song and I remembered standing in front of your house, taking a picture, and remembering playing in the front yard. I so wanted to knock on the door and ask to see the house but I kept walking. Here is the picture I took.

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I was sad to see that the big mulberry tree in the back was gone but I was happy to see that the house was kept up. It looks like a really nice house and I’m thinking that if the walls could talk, they’d say that a happy family was raised in this house and that there are many happy memories stored in those walls. The hallway in your house has heard hours upon hours of children’s laughter when me and my siblings would pile pillows on top of each other and take a running leap to plunge down on each other. For some weird reason, we called this game, “Mr. Bambino”. That hallway also was our entry way to the dining room whenever we came out with our hair messed up or pillows stuffed up our shirts as we surprised our parents and their friends/relatives at the dinner table with whatever comedic acts we had planned. The living room is full of memories of Christmas gifts being opened with surprised faces seeing toys or disappointed faces seeing shirts and socks.

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We spent tons of time in the playroom, challenging friends to ping pong and my father used to have his orchestra concerts in the back yard. He was the orchestra teacher for all the schools. My mother spent much of her time in her sewing room that was just behind the den and I remember peaking in on my dad having his bible studies in his office by the playroom. We were a dog family and my dad had two weimeraners when we were growing up. Maggie and Fonzie. We later got two muts; Sylvester and Stallone. Those dogs would get out and we’d be walking up and down the street, yelling, “SYLVESTER!!! STALLONEY!!!”. I’m sure people thought we were crazy at first. We spent a lot of time on your front porch, waiting for the rain to stop so we could continue playing. My sister played jacks on your front porch and I played with hotwheels there and dug up doodle-bugs under the shrubs just to the left of the front door.

It was a wonderful place to grow up. It was a good neighborhood and it looks like it still is. We were constantly outside with all of the neighborhood kids and we played in the neighbors yards as much as played in our own.

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I have my 25th reunion coming up in xxxx. I would like to ask you a favor. I apologize because I know it may be overstepping some boundaries but I have to ask. It would be So greatly appreciated if I can come and see the house that I grew up in. I’m 43 years old now. I have been shaped by my childhood experiences in your house. I now know what my mother went through back in 1991. My family has so many good memories in your house. A marriage got stronger and three children learned life’s important lessons from parents that loved them in your house. My father is 80 now. My mother is 76. They are still going strong. I completely understand if you don’t feel comfortable allowing a total stranger into your house. My wife and I will be coming to Andrews in xxxx and it would mean a great deal to me if I could spend 5 or 10 minutes walking through your home. It was the House that Built Me….and my brother and sister.

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Please feel free to ignore this letter if you don’t feel comfortable with this request. If you do feel comfortable, I will be coming into town on xx/xx and will be leaving on xx/xx. My phone number is 361-xxx-xxxx. My email is xxxxxxx@hotmail.com. If you feel comfortable allowing me and my wife into your home for a brief time, it would mean the world to me. Thanks and God Bless.

Thank you Mrs. Gadkey, Mr. Reyes, and Mr. Gunther.

“I was born on Mexico Street which was an alley. There were some old apartments behind the alley off of Comanche. They were like shotgun sort of things. The inside of the house, I remember it very distinctly, it didn’t even have sheetrock. There were boards on the outside and you could see all the 2 x 4’s. My mother always kept it very clean. I remember that. I can remember putting up sheet dividers for the rooms. I had to be at least 3 or 4 years old. This was before we moved out to Retama. My godmother lived right next door. Her name was Petra. I remember her husband, Juan. His feet stunk horribly all the time! It was powerful. I remember that. I remember that behind that place there was a big patio and there was a two story place and I remember we used to walk up the steps and see who could jump how many steps. There was a lot of neighborhood kids.”

“I went to Oak Park Elementary and that’s where I started the violin class. The lady, the teacher, I remember her coming out to the house and talking to mom and dad about going to college with scholarships and encouraging and this sort of thing. I remember we were sitting out in the front yard. That’s where everybody sat. There were some chairs out there and all the neighbors would congregate there. There were flower beds all around the little bitty narrow lot that we were on. I’m deeply indebted to Mrs. Gadkey, Anita Gadkey. She lived on Eunice drive across from Del Mar. She used to give me private lessons and we couldn’t afford it at all. She kept teaching me. We went to see her at the nursing home . When she met Robert she was coherent and everything else. She said, “When he starts violin, don’t let anybody teach him. Bring him to me.” There she was at the nursing home already.”

“Every year after we went to contest she (Mrs. Gadkey) took us to breakfast at S. Bluff park. She cooked eggs and biscuits and everything. She took everyone. This was different for me because all we had was a taco every once in a while or just plain old beans. Here we were with bacon and everything else. That was a real highlight growing up. She always had cookies when we’d go for private lessons. She’d have cookies in the oven.”

“She gave me a violin. She showed up with a Jusek, a Czeckoslovakian violin. We never paid her one penny for that or the lessons. I had that instrument until I was able to afford one, when I was in the Navy. She was very good to me.”

“I started playing in the symphony in Corpus when I was a junior in high school. I graduated from high school the very first year it was Miller High School. I went to Del Mar and then went to U.T. in Austin on a full scholarship. Because of Angel Reyes, the Cuban violinist. He took me under his wing and gave me a full violin scholarship. I was working at the drop off and pick up laundry and they payed me .50 cents an hour and I worked for 3 or 4 hours every afternoon, which was not enough to eat on. The dormitory where I was at was the old Army barracks right across the street from the stadium and I never went to one football game. I couldn’t afford it. I paid $45 a semester for the dormitory. Tuition was $45 dollars. I went to the loan office and got enough money to pay for the dormitory. I got into the Austin symphony and they paid me $25 a concert and that’s how I paid off the loans.”

“There were several instrumental people in my path that helped me get to where I am now. If it hadn’t been for those people, it never would have happened. For example, the violin teacher, Mrs. Gadkey, then when I got to U.T., Angel Reyes. I would have had to quit because I didn’t have any money. I would go two or three days without eating and your grandmother would give me $5 every now and then and I was determined to make it through. Then there was a Lieutenant Commander, Bill Gunther, in the Navy. He liked to play chamber music and when I was in the Navy in California, he actually came after me to take me to his house to meet his family and on the way out there, he said, “we’ve already got your orders for you.” Everyone else in my company, guys with PhD’s and Master’s degree were put on ships out to sea. When Bill came out there, he told me, “you’re going to be flown to New York City and you’re going to be the violinist for the Admiral, the Navy representative at the U.N.” They would send a car out for us to play for his wife’s tea parties. There was a mansion way up on a hill and it would be snowing, covered white. He had a green house and it was gorgeous. We’d be off in the corner with a grand piano playing.”

Today is my father’s 80th birthday. Two days ago, we had dinner at my sister’s home. My sister has a very nice home here in Corpus Christi. We all have nice homes. Me, my brother in Denton, and my sister. My brother just finished building a new home. It’s beautiful as well. He and his wife are teachers. My sister and her husband are nurses. My sister is a nurse practitioner with her own clinic. I have a PhD and I make a decent living as well. My brother came into town with his wife and two beautiful girls and there we were at my sisters house with her and her husband and Emma, a future actress and tennis pro. My wife and kids were there. We are in the process of remodeling our kitchen. My oldest daughter is going to graduate this coming year and wants to be a pharmacist. My middle daughter talks about being a veterinarian and my youngest…he’s just a smart kid who’s not sure what he wants to do yet. He’s only in middle school. I’m sure when the time comes, he’ll figure it all out. Back to dinner.

Jeff, a good friend of my sisters, brought steaks for dinner from his family’s meat processing company and Robby, my brother-in-law’s son, cooked those filet’s up perfectly. We sat around and visited and laughed and then it came time for our meal. My father prayed before dinner and when he said these words, I got rather emotional and tears formed in my eyes. “Father in Heaven, thank you for giving me another year to be with my family.” The words are very poignant when your father turns 80. He’s as healthy as can be and if you look at him, he doesn’t look 80. I don’t see him as 80. I see him as being just as strong and healthy as I remember him when I was a child.

I looked around my sister’s home and considered how good we have it. I thought of the life my father and mother created for us through all their hard work. I thought to myself that we have never had to want for anything and how our children will have it much better than we did because of the struggles that my parents went through and the sacrifices they made. For my father’s birthday…I’m thankful. Thankful to my father for his hard work. I am thankful to my mother as well. I’m thankful for the instrumental people in my father’s life. I only named a few of them in the title but there are 100 more I’m sure. I’m thankful to Mrs. Gadkey for that free violin she gave to my father when he was a child. I’m thankful for Angel Reyes for taking the time to see the talent my father nurtured. I’m thankful to Mr. Gunther for whatever steps he took to arrange for my father to go to New York to play for the Admiral. I’m thankful to my grandmother for the $5 dollars she could send to my dad when she could scrape it together and I imagine his level of discouragement, and even hunger, when he got that $5 in the mail and it kept him plugging along.

I can’t begin to say how thankful I am to my father on his 80th birthday. I hope you have many, many, many more birthdays. But more than anything, I hope that when I’m gone someday, I will have had as much of an impact on as many people as you have had and my children will look around and be thankful for your hard work because you were the turning point for the blessings, the education, and the comforts that we all experience on a daily basis. I don’t take it for granted.

The Most Under-Appreciated Job in the World

I have a great father. He has always been a great provider. He has always been available to me. He’ll be 80 years old and he’s still available to me any time I need him. He’s one of the hardest working people and easily the most talented person I’ve ever known. He’s a great artist and a great musician. When I was growing up, he was a preacher at a Spanish Baptist Church and an orchestra teacher. He travelled a lot and was back and forth from my hometown of Andrews to Big Springs, San Angelo, Midland, Odessa, and Lubbock, playing in symphonies, weddings, and every other type of gathering. In the Summers, I remember him playing with us in the pool on our 3 day family vacations to the Holidome in San Angelo. Those were the favorite times of my life. Now, having said all that. I must say that I am guilty, just like most every other kid in the world at not recognizing my mother like I should.

Mother; the job that is the most under-appreciated job in the world. Dad’s are typically “the fun one” while moms are always the bad guys. Thinking about my childhood, Mom is the glue that held it all together. When my dad was bringing home the paychecks, she made meals fit for a king on the budget of a pauper. We always had the things we needed because Mom pinched pennies and made a dollar stretch farther than humanly possible. I remember going to the Green Stamp store and getting to choose something out of the little catalog after staying up late on the weekends, helping her put stamps in the books with a little wet sponge. Mom was a dentist in Mexico but when coming to the United States, she sacrificed her education and career to stay home with my older brother and later stayed home with us until we went to kindergarten. She turned down a trip to Baylor to become a full fledged dentist in the U.S. so that she could shape and mold healthy and happy children.

She would buy Izod, Fila, and Ellesse socks and take off the little alligator, the “F”, and the Ellesse symbols and sew them to our shorts and shirts so that we could look like a million bucks on the tennis court. She would save money so that we could have extra tennis rackets and the best tennis shoes because the shoes are always the most important. I remember standing in the lay-away lines at the stores in Odessa and Mom would put $10 dollars on one item and $20 on another, and we had everything our peers ever had and more.

Mom made sure we knew how to keep our rooms clean and how to clean house. I know how to clean toilets, baseboards, and ceiling fans and when I walk into a house, I recognize that most people’s standards would never meet up to my mother’s standards. She started a cleaning business and employed a dozen or more ladies and at the same time had plenty of work for me and my brother to make us some money for ourselves. She did all this while making sure the house was in order and everything was always taken care of. For this reason, I never lived in a pig sty and people have always felt comfortable and enjoyed being in my home.

Mom taught me how to iron my clothes. For this reason, I had neatly pressed uniforms when I was a police officer and everyday I come to work, my dress shirts are nice and pressed and I save a ton of money on dry cleaning and laundering. Mom made sure I got my homework done. She took me to the Andrews County Library and had me enter reading contests and I won my first bicycle because I read more books than all my peers. She would take me to Whackers (like a Woolworth) when my grades came in and she bought me a hotwheel for every good grade I brought home. For this reason, I have a PhD at the back of my name every time I sign my signature.

Mom forced me to eat foods I didn’t want to eat. For this reason, I’ve developed a taste for good and healthy food. Mom taught me how to use the crock pot. For this reason, I can throw an awesome meal together for my kids before walking out the door when their mother is not home.

She would tell me things like, “If you’re around fire, you’ll smell like smoke,” “This too shall pass,” “God put me on earth to be your mother, not your friend, and when I say no, it means no,” and “I’m saying it because I need to say it, not because you need to hear it.” I find myself repeating these things to my kids like a mantra. She cried when I drove away from home the day after high school and when I went through the fire as a police officer, she told me that she prayed every day that God would lead me out of the darkness into a better place.

My mom’s an awesome mom and this is a note to everyone to begin recognizing all the things we miss because it’s right in front of us on a daily basis.

Brothers and Sisters

On regular occasion, when any or all of my three children are arguing or fighting over some ridiculous insignificant issue, I tell them, “You need to love your brother/sister because when something bad happens to you and we’re [parents] not around, they will be the only people that will be there for you no matter what.” I say this with the hope that they will have a much better support system in place when some tragedy strikes their lives (because it is inevitable that tragedy strikes us all at some point), but I say it in sincerity knowing that when some sort of terrible thing happens to you, people around you may do their best to empathize but no one feels your pain like your parents and like your brother and sister.

I have a niece that is an only child and my children see her the same as a sibling and I am so glad that she is in the same city. She laughs and plays with my kids and frustrates my kids just like she is a sibling. I have two other nieces that live about 8 hours away and I think it would be awesome if they were here too but when they come into town, they fall right into the fray.

I have an older brother and an older sister. My brother is 5 year older than me and my sister is 2 years older. Growing up, my brother and I shared a bedroom for a while and after he moved into the addition, I had a tough time adjusting to him being gone, even though he was only on the other side of the house.  One of the most poignant memories I have about my brother is all the cool stuff he kept on his shelves in his bedroom. He had a boom box that my parents had gotten him and he always had a little bowl full of coins. I’d sneak out .50 cents every now and then so I’d have some money for ice cream or candy or baseball cards and when he’d realize that I’d been in there, he’d scream and hollar how he didn’t want me in his bedroom. One of the funniest things I remember about my brother is when we would all get spankings for whatever group crime we committed. My mom or dad would spank us and send us to the back bedroom. For some weird reason, Martha and I were always first when it came to spankings and Robert was last. Me and Martha would be crying and tending to our emotional wounds in the back bedroom and Robert would come in with this crooked little smile on his face and make some comment about how his spanking didn’t hurt. Before we knew it, we were all laughing.

We all had friends coming to the house on a regular basis but when Robert’s friends would come over, there’s nothing I wanted more than to be a part of whatever it was they were doing. Of course, I was sent away most of the time but it never discouraged me from trying to weasel my way into the group. He had two good friends, Jeff and Troy, that would use me as a punching bag and would ask me if I wanted to “swap hits.” You know this game. It’s where you punch each other in the arm until one of you gives up. They would always let me go first and I would muster every bit of energy I had and would lay into them as hard as I could with little to no effect. Now it was their turn. Inevitably, I would end up either on the floor or five steps back, wondering why I had agreed to play. I saw Troy about a year ago and I should have asked him if he wanted to swap hits. When we took Robert to San Angelo to see the college and to look at the dorms, I thought he was so cool to be going off on his own.

Although I’m about to be 42 years old, my sister still refers to me as “my baby brother.” Martha and I spent countless hours entertaining one another. Robert was above whatever we were doing most of the time. We played in the water sprinkler. We made potion out of our mother’s powders, creams, and make-ups. We played outside in the snow together. We built forts made up of blankets and dining room chairs in the living room. We rode our bikes to Aunt Rose’s house and would listen to records. When we were smaller, we would lay out a blanket on the living room floor and take our Sunday afternoon nap. My dad had a record player and we had to settle to listening to The Imperials and a series of other Christian groups until Martha was old enough to start getting her own records; Donna Summer was one of her favorites. I remember the cover with Donna Summer sitting on top of a juke box. One enjoyment we had was putting on our socks and holding pinkies while we rubbed our feet back and forth on the carpet and then one of us would touch my dad’s Realistic stereo system. Sometimes, Robert couldn’t resist and he would join in on the fun.

Our neighborhood was full of kids but all it took was one of us to have a good idea and we were off and running. Martha had her own room and it was just up the short hallway from my room. You could see into the dining room and the kitchen from her bedroom door. One time, Martha thought she saw an angel in our kitchen at home. She says she knew it wasn’t a ghost because she wasn’t afraid. The best thing about Martha was hearing her relay whatever story she had. Sometimes, it was just the local middle school or high school drama but sometimes we got the special treat of having Martha re-tell the story of some movie that she got to go see. For some reason, Martha got invited to go to the movies in Odessa or Midland all the time. She would come home and would give me and my mother step by step details of everything that happened in the movie and we would sit there listening as if we were in the theatre. She should have been an actress with all the drama she put forth in re-telling these stories. One of the funniest stories Martha tends to tell is when she broke her arm in gymnastics. She came home from the hospital with a cast on and her eyes were still bloodshot from all the crying she had done. She went into the den and laid down on a big giant pillow that we used to watch tv with and I went and laid down next to her. My aunt Rose had gotten her a candy bar and in all sincerity, I looked over at her and said, “If you don’t feel like eating that candy bar, I’ll eat it for you.” Needless to say, she looked at me in disgust and I made a quick exit.

Martha, her husband Bill, and Emma live about a mile and a half from my house and we get to see each other all the time. Like I said, Robert lives 8 hours away with his wife Tressa and their two girls, Hannah and Sophie. I get to see Robert a couple times a year. I know I could sit down and think of a couple dozen more good stories. As I watch my children grow up and hear them fighting together and laughing together I know that they will be telling their own stories about the time Sarah and Isaiah did this and Allie did that. I look forward to hearing them remember their stories when they are grown and on their own.

Treasure Hunter Extraordinaire!

For as along as I can remember, I’ve always wanted a metal detector. As a child, I remember going to a good friend’s home and I would always see his metal detector sitting in his closet and I would say, “Hey, let’s take that out and find some stuff!” His response was always, “Nah, that’s boring and I’ve never found anything good with it,” and we’d go on to riding our bikes or skateboards or just wasting time. Just as any kid would do, Christmas time would come around and I would get distracted and I would forget to ask for a metal detector and about the middle of January, I would kick myself for not focusing my energy on leaving hints for my parents, letting them know that I desparately wanted one.

I’m a grown man; physically anyway, and the vicious cycle has repeated itself….until now! Paycheck after paycheck after paycheck, I would find myself buying things I wanted, all the while, this seed of desire, was forgotten but still growing in the back of my mind. After getting married and having children, I would spend my hard earned check, providing for my wife and children, making sure all of their needs and most of their wants were taken care of. Don’t get me wrong, I still meet the needs of my family, BUT, my time has come! I have jumped off the ledge into the Amazon. Actually, I ordered my new metal detector on Amazon.com.

Since making this fateful leap to get online and order my treasure hunting tool, I spent days, gathering intel, mapping out locations, and determining where my time and energy will be the most well spent. I spent hours watching YouTube videos of other treasure hunters, learning from their mistakes and garnering a wealth of knowledge that I would soon put to use in my own treasure hunting adventures.

Shortly after making my order, I told my Uncle Bob about my newly rediscovered interest and the first words from his mouth were, “I’VE ALWAYS WANTED A METAL DETECTOR!” It was then that I knew that my Uncle Bob would be my partner in treasure hunting and my initial plan was to order his metal detector as well. Luckily, while in conversation with my Aunt Yolanda (who was visiting from Alaska) she said, “let me buy Bob’s metal detector. I didn’t get him anything for his last birthday.” Although our metal detectors were ordered several days apart, they arrived on the same day.

I opened mine at my father’s home and it was like Christmas morning. I couldn’t wait to pop in the 9-volt batteries and take it for a test drive in my father’s back yard. As I was skipping toward my father’s back yard with my new toy, I realized that my father would not appreciate me making his back yard look like a gopher had run rampant through it and I decided to wait until I got back to my own home. I wrapped the box containing Uncle Bob’s metal detector (in Christmas paper because it was all that I had) and I proceeded to take it to him at my sister’s home (where we were all planning on having a garage sale). I’m in my 40’s. Bob is in his 50’s. It’s a funny thing to hear two men, as they are cutting open boxes and peering into the first folded back piece of cardboard, say “AWESOME!” As Bob made that comment, my response, “That’s what I said when I opened mine!”  

Within a few days, our first trip was planned. It was going to be a short trip just to the other side of the bridge, to North Beach. I walked down the beach in one direction while Bob went in the other direction. We did this because, unlike me, Bob read the manual and it said not to use two detectors in close proximity to one another. As I walked closer to the water’s edge, Bob stayed about 20 yards from the water, well into the loose sand. My detector wasn’t making a sound but every couple minutes, in the distance, I would hear Bob’s detector, “Beep… Beep… Beep… Beep.” I would look back at Bob and he would be kneeling down, digging up his new discoveries. In my frustration, I knew it was time to change my game plan.

I walked away from the surf, methodically swinging my detector head back and forth, always parallel to the ground, about 2 inches away from the sand. I was 15 yards from the surf, when it happened. “BEEP…BEEP…BEEP…BEEP!” It was like music to my ears. Whatever it was, it was not only in one spot. It was covering a square area about 2 feet wide. I got down on my knees and started gently scraping away the sand (so as not to damage my new found treasure). Nothing. I ran the detector over the sp0t again. “BEEP…BEEP…BEEP…BEEP!” Two inches down. Nothing. “BEEP…BEEP…BEEP!” Four inches down. Six inches down. Nothing. “BEEP…BEEP…BEEP!” I kept digging. Eight inches down. Nothing. A foot down. The hole was becoming larger and my digging became more and more frantic. I noticed that Bob was moving in my direction to see what I had discovered. I kept digging. The pile of sand was growing  ever higher. “BEEP…BEEP…BEEP!” Still there. Fourteen inches down. Nothing. I was digging frantically, picturing in my mind, a chest of some sort; full of coins or some other riches. Who knows how long ago settlers or pirates had come to this beach, burying their valuables, later losing their maps and now… their treasure was mine! The space was about the size of a chest, I thought. It was a perfectly reasonable thought…at the time.

As my mind continued in this fantasy, I hit what I was desparately unearthing. A collection of beer cans and bottles, some group of idiots obviously burying them there to taunt me! Knowing that a treasure hunter, just like myself, would be coming along to clean up their mess! Regardless, the haul was not that great. It seems treasure hunting is not my forte, but either way, next weekend….the hunt continues.