Remember when Hillary said “it takes a village” to raise a child? I do, because I agreed with her. I had a village raise me, and this is my homage to them.
Where does one go with a brown paper sack full of everything one owns? To the father. My father and I had been super close at one time in my life, but as a teenager in need? He was far, far away. When I arrived at his home (all of his homes were very nice and very clean- a big change for me. My mother stopped cleaning when I was 10) I was given a room and a place for my pants and two tops. I put my toothbrush in the holder. I was told by his wife the following: “Your father does not like teenagers. He just doesn’t know what to do with them. Don’t expect much from your father.” This message was fed to me from 13 to 19…and it worked. I left after a few weeks, and my dad, well, he let me.
First stop; the Dalros family. My boyfriend’s family invited me into their home. I shared a room with Leigh Ann, the only girl out of five children. They were a farming family and had some land, some animals and a pool. They were a church going family and so I became a church going girl. I went to school every day- it was the best attendance I had during my high school years. I loved living with this family. Mrs. Dalros shared her thoughts on God while she knitted- no really, how Norman Rockwell is that? The boyfriend was going to college about 2 hours away and would come home on weekends. We broke up, and he and my best friend Francine married each other twice! I am grateful for my time on the farm, and the stories about God, and the fresh ice tea. I am grateful for the countryside, the loud peacocks and the pool! But mostly I am grateful for them treating me so wonderful and giving me six safe months.
Francine’s dad let me move in for awhile- we stayed in the garage that he converted to a bedroom. I was happy to be in my old neighborhood. My childhood home was one street over. Francine and I were best friends and we became worst enemies. I love her too much now to ever re-visit the past. I can only say that the time I was allowed in their home was a blessing to me. I was able to ride the bus and finish basketball season. Francine’s father is an amazing man; he is kind, considerate, caring. He was great at keeping groceries in the house. Unfortunately, he kept pop-tarts in the pantry and I found them. I paid twenty-five dollars amonth to stay with them and I probably ate twenty five dollars in pop tarts each month I was there! Oh yes, I remember having to start my first diet after the pop tart damage was so bad I couldn’t fit into the pair of pants I owned!
I then went to live with the Fallins. This home was also in my old neighborhood and I had known Mr. and Mrs. Fallin through my brother Joe. When they learned about me needing a place, they opened their home to me. It was the most peaceful place on earth. The Fallins lived Zen and in the now. Mrs. Fallin baked cakes and decorated them. The home was never cake-less. She cooked every night and we ate together in the den area. The bathroom trash was emptied every day. The was perfect when I came home form school. I remember feeling like I shouldn’t be infiltrating their tranquil home; and indebted to them for allowing me in. Mrs. Fallin made sure I breakfast, lunch and dinner. The 20 pound weight gain was worth every bite. As a freshman I was going hungry and had lost a tremendous amount of weight. I think that is one of the reasons why I never said no to cake! I especially loved the lemon and jello cakes! Mr. Fallin was fun to talk to and both of them seemed to really care. Their daughter Tonia was a year older than me and was a quiet girl. I never told her, but I watched her wanted to emulate her gentleness, because I lacked in the gentle area. She was feminine- I think that is a better way to put it- and yeah, I am still learning about my girly side! She was smart, had a lot of friends and always treated me with kindness and respect. Matter of fact- she still does.
Then there was Von Ormy. Boyfriend number two had a big family, and I got to know them all. Every one of his relatives were fun and nice. I know his mother spoke in Spanish some times around me a bout me….but I sure didn’t care. She is one of those women who aged with a smile on her face. If she frowned, and I am sure she has, it was never for too long. Aunt Katy became my guardian and saw me through my senior year. She also helped me score my first job at HEB in Valley-Hi. I ate tons of great food and was with them during all the holidays. I felt like I was a member of the family- I was even introduced as a ‘cousn!’
I have thanked these families and vowed to pay it forward. I have brought in a girl or two in need and helped when I could. When I meet a student who is struggling and in a similar position I reach out.
What did I do to deserve such open doors and hearts? I was a house hopper- I took such treasure from each experience. Sort of a collage of family life; and within my family I have incorporated a little of what I learned from each home:
Mr. White, I try to keep real goo care of my lawn. You had the best in the whole neighborhood. I loved doing backbends on Fair Valley! (I had to stop eating pop tarts.)
Mr. and Mrs. Dalros: I found God and raised my girls in church. I crocheted a scarf and two blankets- Mrs. D taught me how!
Mr. and Mrs. Fallin: I take my bathroom trash out every day. I bake cakes and have learned to decorate to a small extent. I had a garden and a compost pile, just like yours.
Von Ormy: I am marrying Charlie and finally going to be a real cousin. In the meantime, I have kept up the laughter and the family gatherings that are so much fun!
It took a villiage- thank you all.