Tuesday, June 26, 2018
Tuesday, June 19, 2018
|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!
Monday, June 18, 2018
|Joe Cool Rodriguez 1987|
The first time I met him he was wearing a green-striped shirt and following David, his elder brother, into Mario’s office. This is before Mario and I were dating, and our relationship was boss-employee. I loved working for Mario, the most organized boss ever; as a single mother I appreciated his humor and discipline. That day, however, he looked over the counter and smiled at me.
“Boys,” he said in a voice reserved for his children, “this is our new park aid, Janet. She’s brand new so don’t bother her. She’s still trying to learn how to type.”
I rolled my eyes at him, but smiled at the kids. The two boys (David, 7, and Joe, 6) walked over to my desk, and started telling me about their recent airplane voyage from Kansas City.
“That’s where our Mom lives,” Joe said, dreamily. He had sandy, blonde hair and blue eyes, and he looked at me when he spoke. David was brown haired, brown eyed and the talker of the two. He was quick to tell me that he would soon be eight-years-old.
David and Joe drew pictures at my desk as Mario made a few phone calls in his office. They were filled with observations and questions. They wanted to use my new electric typewriter. They told me they had just ridden a horse the day before and Joe actually fell off.
“But I got up and got back on,” he said. It wasn’t hard to tell he was proud of himself for getting back on the horse. I didn't even imagine that Joe would one day become quite an accomplished horse rider , a genuine cowboy, and that he and David would break and care for horses with such skill that they could make a living at it. Joe would also become an honor student, a star football player, and graduate high school in favor with his teachers and classmates, voted most likely to succeed. That day he was just a boy who was coping with his parents' divorce, and my heart went out to him.
|Reading books to Joe that night|
I went to my boss’ house for dinner that night, more at the invitation of the boys than of him. I got the feeling that they all liked me there, a woman in the shadow of all these guys. I was also delighted to watch them together. David was bold; Joe was thoughtful. They were fun and respectful and I loved the relationship they had. I ended up marrying Mario eighteen months later, even though I was clueless of my true feelings for him that first night. It was easy being with him and the boys, eating cold chicken and salad together, and later reading books. I read four or five books aloud to the boys that evening as Mario washed the dinner dishes.
“Why are you leaving?” Joe asked me as stood up to leave.
Mario laughed from the sink and shouted, “Because she doesn’t live here!”
“I have a baby,” I answered Joe, smiling.
Joe leaned against the chair and looked at me. "Is it a girl baby or a boy baby?”
“A boy. His name is Vince.”
“Why don't you go home and get him and bring him back here?”
I looked up at Mario who was smiling.
“No, honey,” I said. “I’m going to go home and spend some time with him. Usually I give him a bath and put him to bed.”
"Okay, bye," Mario said, emerging from the kitchen, drying his hand on a towel. "Thanks for coming over."
I left that night, not knowing it would be the first night of many--nights where I did go home and get Vince and bring him back to Mario's place. We all got along so well, and I loved seeing this side of Mario. We were good friends and once I allowed myself to, we fell in love.
In many ways, I saw David and Joe as a package deal when I married Mario, but I soon learned to appreciate them as individuals. Joe expressed his emotions and reasoned through every decision, just like his father. Even as a teenager, he was kind and funny, tender and strong, analytical and careful.
|Ariel, Asher and Joe...goin' to the chapel|
Not long ago, Joe married Ariel, the woman of substance that brings out the best in him. She lights up his world, has a beautiful smile, and appreciates who he is. Want to know the beautiful thing? When he met her, she was a single mother of a young son.
|Harvey's birth--three Generations|
Over the years, I have amassed thousands of memories and thousands of words to describe Joe, but none come as close as this: he is just like Mario. Even the way he fathers his delightful sons reminds me of his Dad...and I can think of no greater compliment.
Today is his birthday, and I think of how far he has come. Now a father to three boys, he juggles work, home, and family with care and purpose. Every day I am proud of him.
Happy Birthday, Joe! We love you, so, so, so much!
Tuesday, June 12, 2018
This blog is a re-post from five years ago--and it is still true today. Even though Mario and I are not fighting, the principles for reconciliation still apply. Think of your love and remember the joy and challenge of a love that lasts.
|Mario and I one random night - 30 years married.|
We are cordial as we speak to one another this morning, but there are icicles sticking to our words. After 25 years of marriage, our fights have become polite.
I know I’m crazy in love with my husband and I know he is my rock as much as a human man can be a human woman’s rock. Even so, I am mad at him. He made me mad yesterday and when he did I felt bad about myself. The mood in our house drastically changed. I didn’t just shut my mouth – I made him angry, too. We were both tired and hungry and spent, so when our busy day was all over, we shared our double sized bed together without touching one another.
This morning I made my own coffee.
Today we will reconcile. I’m mad at him now but I can guarantee you that I will not be able to stay away from him. He rejoices with me in my small victories, like being able to rent a garbage bin for the lowest price. He will help me see things from a balanced perspective and convince me that organic salmon is worth the price. He will kiss me some time during today and chills will radiate from the back of my neck to the base of my spine.
The reason I know this is because I have endured many fights with him. They have threatened my happiness temporarily; but never have stolen from the concept of true love – the dream I am living with this man.
True love is not wimpy. It is not selfish or self-centered. It doesn’t wear make-up to make itself look good. It exists between two people ready and willing and able to sacrifice for and with each other. True love sees disappointment regularly and survives. It is filled with passion, but equally filled with awareness that it is responsible to the world around it. It becomes a large, stable boulder in a sea of change that people know will never move.
My love is not perfect; but it is strong. It is rooted in grace and mercy and forgiveness. It is a marathon runner, fueled by respect, truth and kindness. It has fallen many times on a rocky road that never ends and it has stood up and limped back into the race, ready to go on. My love kicks ass.
That’s why this morning I can write this. I am no baby – I am no spoiled princess. I am a woman of substance and strength and I know who I am. I will apologize for my part and I will forgive him for his.