Monday, May 26, 2014

Fortunate Son

Some folks are born made to wave the flag,
Ooh, they’re red, white, and blue. Yeah!

The year is 1969 and over half of the young men who graduated with me from high school last year are serving in Vietnam.  Everyone talks patriotism; everyone waves the flag, but the war in Vietnam is raging and not everyone gets drafted by the Selective Service.  

The fortunate ones get deferred or find a way to get deferred.  Unable to afford college and unwilling to marry and start a family at such a young age, those who do not qualify for a Selective Service System deferment are classified 1-A and get drafted. The Selective Service lives up to its name; it selects men mostly from the middle and the lower middle class.

It ain’t me, it ain’t me, I ain’t no senator’s son, son.
It ain’t me, it ain’t me; I ain’t no fortunate one, no.

The following year, 1970, my brother is home from his “tour of duty.”  It sounds like spending a year of his life in Vietnam was a vacation; war is anything but. Many of his platoon are dead so everyone calls him the fortunate one. We all know better. The brother who left us will never be the same person who returned.

Some folks inherit star spangled eyes,
Ooh, they send you down to war, Lord.

The daily news runs the names of the fallen heroes, many boys I knew from school, the neighborhood, or church.  Too many are my cousins. All killed in action.

What do you think they thought about right before they died? 


A cuss word?

The Lord’s Prayer maybe or a plea for mercy and forgiveness?

Regret that they won’t be able to keep the promise they made their mamas or their girlfriends about coming home safe?

Hopefully, they knew how much they were loved and will be missed.

And when you ask them, “How much should we give?”
Ooh, they only answer, More! More! More! Yo!

Memorial Day honors all those who were killed in action while serving their country in the United States Armed Forces.  Remember them. Many of them were young men, barely in their twenties.

Don’t forget the fallen heroes.  Make them the true Fortunate Sons. 

Monday, May 19, 2014

Mrs. Galindo

When I walked into her classroom on the first day of 4th grade, I was immediately drawn to her.  She was Hispanic like me.  My father had been encouraging me to do well in school and aspire to college one day, but I had not really thought of my future at that age.  I dreamt of being a ballerina or a cowgirl, but here was a real life Hispana and she was a teacher.

I always liked school.  Scratch that, I always liked to learn. Sometimes I knew that I would have to do more on my own than the teacher could teach me; sometimes I knew I would have to stay on my toes to keep up with the class. Mrs. Galindo was one of those teachers.

She pushed us all to do better, learn more, ask questions. She would call us, one by one, to her desk during silent reading time to counsel us on our grades.  I beamed when she praised me for my work and it encouraged me to work harder.

On occasion, she caught me passing notes, whispering to my girlfriends, and winking at boys.  She would gently remind me to wait until lunch time or recess to speak with my friends.  She said it was disrespectful to talk in class. A lady never chases boys, she said.  She lets them chase her.

I tried my best to be a lady and a good student, but sometimes I reverted to my old self. 

On the last day of school, she gave each one of us a Holy Card with a personal note on the back. Mine said she loved me as much as she loved her one and only daughter Linda.  She lined us up and shook hands with each one when it came time to say goodbye, but she hugged me to her and I sobbed.

I don’t recall the name of my fifth grade teacher.  She was forgettable, so was the year except for my friends and seeing Mrs. Galindo on the playground or at lunch time. There was always a huge smile and hug waiting for me.

I dreaded the start of the next school year. My brother was a year ahead of me and had told me horror stories about the sixth grade. I walked into the classroom surprised to find it decorated with cheerful posters and maps and book stations everywhere.  Maybe my brother had exaggerated. 

Then Mrs. Galindo walked into the classroom with her angelic smile and twinkly eyes.
Now don’t think for a minute, ladies and gentlemen, that we will repeat what we learned in the fourth grade.  Oh no, she said.  I have been studying and preparing all summer to teach you sixth grade material and keep you on your toes.  It will not be easy.

 We all gave a cheer.  She winked at me.  
*   *   *   *   *

The last time I saw her she was shopping at a Wal-Mart with her daughter.  I was in my forties, married, with kids the age she once taught. She recognized me immediately.  A few years later I read her obituary in the paper.  I cut it out and hugged it to me.

God sends us angels in many forms.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

                                 Book Sale
New and Gently Used

Proceeds to Benefit Feed My Starving Children

Monday, May 19, 2014
                                  6-8 pm   
First Baptist Church of Universal City
Peace Auditorium
1401 Pat Booker Road
Universal City, Texas 78148

Sponsored by 
the Christian Writers Group of San Antonio

Monday, May 12, 2014

Becoming a Mother

I was twenty-four when I had my first child.  The doctor and my Lamaze instructor warned me that it would take several hours for a first birth.  It took all of six for my son to see light. At our Lamaze reunion, I was the hateful showoff, the one who didn’t abide by the rules. 
I was twenty-nine when I had my second child.  My office mates planned a baby shower for me on April twenty-second, but I had to call and cancel.  My baby due on June 6th came early.  It took me three hours to deliver a healthy but premature 5lb 3oz little girl. Once again I broke the rules.
I worried for nine months when I was pregnant with my third child.  According to my body’s track record, I kept cutting delivery times by halvsies.  I should have taken bets on that because number three got here in less than the anticipated one hour and a half.  I am not exaggerating; from first pain to birth, he was here in forty-five minutes. I was still fully clothed, except for underpants, delivering my baby with my Candies wedgies wedged in the stirrups.
I retired the baby works after that. I was thirty one. Raising three children well was going to be enough of a challenge.
I taught my three to grow up to be independent, with a strong sense of right and wrong.  I instilled in them a love for one another in case they didn’t have me to look out for them. I prayed for their happiness – in their personal lives, in the careers they chose, in the decisions they made. They always came first and I loved them (through example, words, affection). I did all this because one day I would have to let them go out into the world without me.  

I am their mother but I do not own them.  God entrusted them to me and together, He and I, we did a pretty good job. 

Monday, May 5, 2014

The Crazy Housewives of Guadalupe County

Episode One: The introduction of characters 

Scene One: They each dress in their own homes and travel to the Dairy Queen for their first meeting.
There’s the local, a married woman in her early sixties who can trace her family’s lineage back several generations to the founding of the towns in the area.  She is married to a man with the same proud heritage.
There’s the transplant, a married woman in her late sixties who settled in the area with her husband after they both retired from successful careers “up north.” Used to being the hub, they introduced themselves into the local society by joining all and every group that was taking volunteers.
There’s the newcomer, a woman of their age who has moved here from the nearby city. To her the area is nothing more than a bedroom community, a thirty minute drive to the closest city, Kohl’s, or Olive Garden.
Scene Two: The Local arrives in her Ford F150.  The Transplant arrives in her Chrysler 300.  The Newcomer in her Prius V. They eye each other until the Transplant calls out to them in a loud voice and asks if they are there for the Housewives programme.  (She would spell it that way, believe me.)
The Local decides to order first.  The Transplant commandeers a table and wipes it with the Wet Ones she always carries in her purse.  The Newcomer sits down and pulls out a Nutragrain bar. The meeting starts.
The Transplant has come prepared with a set of warm-up questions so they can get to know each other.
They each have to say something funny/odd that has happened lately in their family.  The Local shares a story concerning their tractor and a busted (her word) oil line. The Newcomer tells about the day she freaked out when she walked into a spider web the size of a full-sized sheet on her way to her car.  They don’t have those in the city – spiders.  They do have sheets, probably 400-count. The Transplant goes on and on about something but the other two are not listening.  She laughs at her own story, while the Local picks up her order at the counter and the Newcomer fidgets with her cell phone.
The Transplant calls out the next question.  What do you love, absolutely love, about living in Guadalupe County? She giggles with delight. The Newcomer raises her hand, the one with the cell phone attached to it.  Why is it pronounced Wada-loop when it is clearly Latino and should be pronounced Goo-ada-loop-eh?  The Transplant’s mouth drops open; the Local drops her chili-cheese dog.  
A cat fight ensues, the caliber of most Housewives’ shows. There is name calling, vulgarities of the agricultural nature, and the throwing of several orthopedic shoes.
It. Finally. Gets. Ugly. 
The episode ends.

Next Week's Episode Two: The women agree to meet at the local Wal-Mart (the only “department store” in the area) and try again to overcome their differences for the sake of the show.