July 9, 2013
“But I have promises to keep,/And miles to go before I sleep” -Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening by Robert Frost
I have made more than a few promises in recent months, both to myself and others, and I intend on keeping them. However, the thing about a promise to yourself is that if you break it, no one knows but you. And although I am my harshest critic, I would just like to put out into the universe a promise I made to myself so that I don’t hedge my bets, “Tell the people in your life how much they mean to you.” Sounds simple, right? However, we often get caught up in life and forget the simple things. So today dear Readers, I would like to tell you about two very special women in my life: Nadine and Esther.
I just know Nadine is going to want to kill me when she sees this post. And make no mistake dear Readers, she will see this post. I know, because she is one of my biggest fans. But that is only a tiny part of why I have chosen to honor her today. I have known Nadine since I was 19 and working at Circle K, a local convenience store. Apparently, Nadine and her younger sister used to come into the store where I work and…well, I’m not going to tell you all of her secrets. Nadine is married to my brother, Alex, and we have been family for at least 28 years.
Nadine and my brother have six children. And although Nadine does not work outside the home, she works her ass off in the home. She has an embroidery business, Nadinez Hats N Embroidery which, from all accounts, is doing rather well. My brother fully supports her endeavor as she has always supported him in his.
Nadine is a tough nut to crack. She keeps her emotions close to her. Throughout the years, I was never really quite sure where I stood with Nadine. Oh sure, we would hug and say, “Hi, how are you doing,” at family get togethers, but we were never really close. However, I have always fiercely loved my sister-in-law for the simple fact that she fiercely loves my brother. I also greatly admired Nadine for the simply fact that she doesn’t take any shit. She is not a pushover, she speaks her mind and she will not allow anyone to take advantage of her. These three qualities are essential if you are to survive in my family (that’s a whole ‘nother story) and I have often admired how Nadine has thrived.
Throughout the past 28 years, Nadine has seen how messed up I have been at times. She has borne witness to more than one of my many stumbles. And throughout all of them, she has never, ever, ever said even so much as one bad word to me…Never. She has never deigned to give me advice, she has never called me a name, she has never told me to, “Get it together,” or variations thereof. She has never judged me and she has always supported me. But most importantly, to me, she has always accepted me, good, bad, and ugly. I love you, Nadine. There is no greater gift you could give me.
Esther, too, may kill me when she sees this post. And yes, she will see this post because she is also one of my biggest fans. And just like Nadine, that is not the only reason I honor her here today. Esther is married to my youngest brother, Daniel. And theirs is a match made in heaven. Both are the youngest of eight children, both thought that if they got married, it would be later in life, and both are very talented musicians. I knew Esther would be part of our family after my brother’s first date with her. The look on Daniel’s face when he came home that evening spoke volumes.
Esther is an elementary school teacher so we have that in common. Although I teach high school, a teacher is a teacher. And Esther and I could talk for hours, trading war stories. However, it is what she has in common with my brother for which I am most grateful. Daniel has always been a music aficionado and has carried on a family tradition of playing and singing mariachi music. Esther, same thing. While Daniel has his mariachi group, Mariachi Alma Nacional, Esther has hers, Mariachi Rubor.
I absolutely love Esther for loving my brother. However, it is the love she has shown me for which I am most grateful. Esther has also seen many of my stumbles. She has also never said a negative word nor turned her back on me. She has always supported and never judged me. And again, she has always accepted me. I love you, Esther. There is no greater gift you could give me.
“So, why now?” you may be asking yourselves, dear Readers and here is why. During the five months that I was in the Middle East, I could always count on both Nadine and Esther to keep in touch with me. Every Facebook post, every picture, every blog entry, Esther and Nadine made it a point to respond. It could have been as simple as giving something a thumb’s up. But to me, it was far from simple. Those little gestures that someone back home was acknowledging me were my lifeline. Every morning before work and every evening before I went to bed, I would check to see if anything I had posted had any response. And without fail, Nadine and Esther would respond. I began to depend on their responses to keep the loneliness at bay. And they never once disappointed me.
Esther and Nadine, you saved me from utter despair. Knowing that you kept me in your mind and in your heart allowed me to do what I went over there to do. I love you both for all that I have stated and more. Words cannot express how very grateful I am. But then again, maybe they can.