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.

home1

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.

christmas andrews 2

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.

martha david snowmen

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.

3 kids front of house

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.

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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.

Sarah’s Smile

Sarah was born on January 14 in Houston,TX. When she was 3 months old the family moved to Corpus Christi but I stayed in Houston for a while longer to tie up some loose ends. Her first words came one weekend when I met her, her  mother and older sister at the IKEA on I-10. I was inside the store and waiting by the registers and when they walked in, she was the first of the three to see me. She yelled out her first word, “Da-Da.” My heart melted. All three of my children have special qualities and they are all wonderful in their own little ways.

I wanted to share about Sarah’s qualities. If you read my last post, you know my Aunt Rose passed away on January 14. This was Sarah’s birthday and understandably, we were distracted from the focus we typically would have had on her because of the loss. Either way, we were able to treat her and her friend to dinner the night before.

Sarah’s in the process of working on several art projects that she is going to enter in an art show in February. The other day, my 16 year old daughter picked me up from work. I don’t know what we were talking about that brought up Sarah but we both began commenting on how Sarah is such a free spirit and a true Bohemian. Allie said that there are kids that try to be “hip” but Sarah is just “hip” because that’s who she is.

Sarah is definitely an artist but she’s also an athlete. She is a killer on the tennis court. Her mind works unlike any I’ve ever seen. She gets distracted by the next best idea and all of her ideas are good. She’s smart. She’s aggressive because she’s a winner and she craves winning. She says she wants to be a cook and an artist. She says she wants to travel the world and I know she will. She’s fearless and when she sets a goal for herself, she goes after it and there’s nothing that can stop her. Her mother describes her as her rainbow because she is all colors. When she gets upset or sad, everyone knows it. When she is happy, she lights up the world around her in every direction.

Sarah’s creative mind is always at work. The best thing about her is that she has a heart of gold. She doesn’t always show that heart to her brother and sister but it’s there. Yesterday, she told me that she and her best friend were going to start a project to raise money for a restaurant that feeds the homeless. It’s a giant project but I know she will set her goal and it will become a reality. That heart of gold is the same reason that she loves every animal she sees. She volunteered to take care of the dogs and cats that were being adopted and she treats her own dog (Lulu) like a princess. When her Lulu’s sister got sick and passed, Sarah’s heart broke and since that time, Lulu has slept in her bed and has been comforted and is the happiest dog I’ve ever seen.

Sarah is strong but sensitive. She is all over the place and focused at the same time. Her passion for art and the other things she loves ensures that she is going to be successful. I always told her that I don’t care if she’s rich when she gets older but that she spends her life doing what she loves and I know this will be her reality. She is a natural beauty with piercing dark eyes and a heart of gold. She’s my angel. Whenever I look at her, I see the little girl that lights up everything around her. Dad loves you Sarah.

A Beautiful Rose

My Aunt Rose passed away today. It was a long day for everyone in the family. The phone rang shortly after midnight and it was my sister letting us know that Aunt Rose was taken to the hospital. I was going to stay in bed but I decided to get up and get dressed, thinking that I should go just in case, but really feeling that it was going to turn out to be nothing serious. As I walked up to the emergency room entrance, and saw the look on my sister’s face, I knew it was more serious than I initially thought. Within an hour, the doctor came in and told us that she was gone.

I grew up around my Aunt Rose. She was like a third parent more than an Aunt when we were kids.  She rarely got onto us but if she needed to, nothing stopped her and we listened to her and she loved us and we loved her. I’m sure all the family members have things they remember about my aunt but there are some very distinct things I remember about her. She collected owls and in her small home in West Texas, there were owls of every sort. As a kid, it was easy to get her Christmas and birthday gifts because I knew all I had to do was look for something with an owl. My aunt always had a gift with painting and being artistic. She was always working on some sort of project and i’m sure that most all of us have something she made displayed somewhere in our homes. James Taylor was one of her favorite music artists. I made a James Taylor CD for her several years ago and as a child, I remember sitting on her living room floor listening to her records. She called me Dave. She called my brother Rob, and I laugh a little now that I’m thinking about it because she called my sister Mouthy (Her name’s Martha). We used to ride our bikes to her house when we were bored and there was always something to do there. In reality, there wasn’t really much to do there, except visit Aunt Rose and hang around while she worked on whatever she was working on and she would allow us to take part in whatever she was doing.

This morning after about 4 and a half hours of sleep, I went to my dad’s and met up with my sister. Aunt Rose had just gotten settled into a small apartment behind my dad’s house after spending the last couple years taking care of her older sister who has Alzheimers. My aunt’s art and craft supplies were organized neatly throughout the apartment. My aunt had not been there very long but the first thing my sister said (with tears in her eyes), and just before I was able to say it, was “It smells like Aunt Rose in here.” It smelled just like her home in Andrews. It’s hard to describe. Maybe it was the art supplies, the quilts, the books, the perfume, the make-up, but most likely, just a combination of all the things that made up my Aunt Rose.

I’ll miss my Aunt Rose but I’m sure it won’t be anything compared to how her brothers and sisters miss her. The hardest part when losing an aunt or uncle is having to see the sadness that everyone else is having to deal with after losing a sibling. When my sister and I were in my aunt’s apartment I noticed a small picture of my grandmother and my Aunt Cuca. My grandmother passed away in 1991 and my Aunt Rose took care of my Aunt Cuca for the last couple years. My grandmother and aunt would go to San Benito to my Aunt Sylvia’s home in the valley to have huge garage sales. It’s what they loved to do in the same way that my Aunt Rose loved her arts and crafts. I made a quick trip to Walgreens to make copies of that photo for the Aunts and Uncles that didn’t have one. I thought of my grandmother as we sat in the Emergency Room waiting on the medical examiner, all I could think about was what a good time my Aunt Rose was having updating my grandmother on all the things she missed out on in the last 20 years and how my grandmother is enjoying her Beautiful Rose.

Allie

My 16 year old daughter picked me up at work last night. We’re a family with three drivers (now that Allie has her license) and only two vehicles. I know we’ll be buying her a new car next year before she goes off to college but for the time being, to save several hundred dollars a month, getting dropped off and picked up from work is an inconvenience I can live with. She picked me up and on the short 7 minute drive home, she vented all the way home, complaining about her brother doing this and that and mother being this way and that way and she ended her rant by saying, “This is why I want to move 9 hours away.” It made me a little sad to hear her say these words but I remember like it was yesterday feeling this exact same way. I didn’t have a younger brother. My brother and sister were older and I was the baby of the family but for a number of reasons, I couldn’t wait to leave the nest. Honestly, I don’t remember what they were other than wanting to get out of a small town and just to be on my own and to be responsible for myself.

Several years passed and I found myself living alone in Houston, still a kid in my early 20’s, in the police academy, living in an efficiency apartment with very very few furnishings, and although I had plenty of friends to hang out with, I found myself feeling very lonely and missing my brother, my sister, and my parents. I was on my own and rather than wanting to be on my own, I wanted family around me. My brother Robert came to visit me and he had been there two days and he had to go back to Corpus Christi. It was a Friday and we were sitting at the pool and I told him, “Why don’t you stay the weekend?” I didn’t have to be at the academy and it was two more days for us to hang out together. He made a phone call and it turned out he had to get back. He left and I remember like it was yesterday. I went back into my tiny apartment and I was overwhelmed with sadness. I had missed my brother, my whole family for that matter and I would have done anything to hang out with him for just two more days. It was crazy that I was feeling that way. No one had died. No one had moved to the other side of the world or to another continent.

Looking back, I know that was a transition point in my life. After spending that day in my apartment, lonely and missing family, I went back with my normal schedule of friends, dates, etc. I have never felt that way since. When I left home after high school, I came to a town where there was a sister, grandmother, aunts, uncles, and cousins. I had family close to fill the void of missing parents and being that my brother had been off at college, I was used to him not being around. Now, I was an adult and finally on my own. I’m in my 40’s now and my oldest child can’t wait to get out from under my roof. She can’t wait to leave home, get away from her siblings, and to be independent. She’s going to go through what I went through and she’s going to go through it much earlier in her life than I did, I think.

Allie was a beautiful little girl and now she’s a beautiful young lady. Her mother and I sat in bed last night talking about how she was always such a good child and now that she’s a teen, how she’s responsible and considerate. I don’t worry about her. She’ll be successful and whatever man earns her heart will be fortunate beyond his understanding. What I know for sure is that the sadness that I felt when my brother drove away from my apartment complex in North Houston will pale in comparison to how I will feel when Allie drives away after high school.