|My hunka-hunka Mario Rodriguez|
The night before we left for Los Angeles, where I would begin the first residency of my MFA program at AULA, Mario and I were trying to decide if we should take the wireless keyboard that I am typing on right now. I am not used to writing on an iPad or a laptop, unless they are connected to a standard keyboard or a real mouse.
“It’s no problem to take them,” Mario told me, leaning over me and picking up the mouse. My hand was still on it, and when his hand touched mine, I shivered. He smiled as I looked up at him.
“Thank God we’re married,” I said. “If we weren’t, I’d be in big trouble.”
“Well, we are married,” he said, trying to sound matter-of-fact, but he was still smiling.
Sound corny? It’s true. Mario still gives me goosebumps, even with a simple touch. I normally don’t talk about this, mainly because so many people I know (and love) live with broken hearts or unrequited love, and I feel for them. But today is Mario’s birthday, and this post is meant to bless him.
I started working for Mario in 1986—co-workers first, friends next, and then we hugged –but that’s another story. Mario always recognized me as a diamond in the rough—a princess beneath layers of insecurity and self-doubt. When I started working for him, I was twenty-three, a single mother freshly out of a disastrous relationship. Looking back on that time, I am embarrassed to admit how unbalanced I was - a proverbial catastrophe waiting to happen. Mario’s friendship built me up with encouragement and acceptance without strings attached. After years of being deprived of this, I ate it up. He was handsome, financially stable, loved my son and respected both friends and strangers. Then there was this: Mario loved me. He loved me! I received this love with a mixture of wariness and gratitude, knowing that one day he would probably come to his senses, figure out I was just me, and move on. He stayed. His steadiness made my head spin—and we prepared ourselves for marriage. As parents of young children, we knew the effects of failed relationships and we weren’t interested in failing again. Mario loved me, respected me, and honored me.
|In Mexico 1990|
This thought still brings tears to my eyes. His love for me was the stuff that legends are made of. He didn’t manufacture it – it came naturally. Sometimes I look at him now and remember how I thought of him as a guy light years out of my league, but one who saw into my soul and loved me! I am married to the best guy I know.
When I think of Mario my heart swells. From meeting him, to working for him, to becoming friends, newlyweds, having Alicia and raising a family, working, moving, losing family, and then gaining family through our children, all the way up to now is the sea of life we have built together. In every season, Mario has been faithful, fun, and has never given up. God has mercy on the humble, which is probably why he gave me Mario. I thank God for this mercy – because I know I don’t deserve it.
Today Mario is sixty-four! I can’t believe that my athletic, beautiful husband is sixty-four. Today he will fly back to L.A., after three days with our family in Kansas City, and I will see him again!!
Happy Birthday, babe. You really are the best thing I have in my life – and my life is overflowing with good things! I still need you and will still feed you now that you're sixty-four!