The Exemplary Behavior of #19


This story mirrors A Death in the Family.

Rudy was seventeen.
A senior in high school.
Engaged in the game of basketball.
With his teammates.
When he was considered the best player.
The shining star.
The guy the crowd came to watch.
He seemed to make the game that much more exciting.

That was also the year that Rudy’s dad died.

His team had been practicing for upcoming games.
They would compete with other high school teams in the national tournament.
Hoping to score their way to the top.
As champions.

Rudy wanted to be part of his considered underdogs team.
To prove to everyone that they had what it took to win.
Win big.
He was the captain of his basketball team.
The star player.

His dad was buried.
The same night Rudy’s basketball team played.
Without him.
And lost.
Their first game in the country’s national tournament.

Yet, Rudy wasn’t thinking of the game.
He felt numb.
He couldn’t think.
About anything.
Not yet.
Not when his deceased father was overpowering his thoughts.

But, a few days later.
As his mind began to settle down.
As he began to accept the fact that his father was gone.
He forced himself to think about other things.
Including the fact that his basketball team was competing.
In an event he felt he needed to participate in.
And, to help ease his grief.

Back in his school town.
He wanted to attend the girls’ game.
To support them.
Where a crowd of people who knew him would be gathered.
Watching the sport with enthusiasm.

As he walked towards the basketball arena to watch the girls’ play.
He saw his rival team standing outside.
Near the entrance.
Guys he knew.
From a previous school.
Guys he liked.
Was still friends with.

They hugged him.
Consoled him.

When Rudy walked with his head down.
Into the auditorium at San Antonio Academy.
His high school.
To watch the game.
Surprisingly, the crowd of fans began to chant.
For Rudy.
“Largo! Largo! Largo!” they screamed.
Rudy’s tall nickname.
Number 19 was back. The star.

Weeks later.
The final championship game was a must-see event.
The crowd cheered as they watched Rudy.
And his teammates.
Play skillfully.

And jeered.
When they believed the ref made some bad calls.
Which resulted in three key players.
Including Rudy.
To be benched during the remainder of the game.

In the end.
San Antonio lost that evening.
Trailing behind on the scoreboard.
Against their opponents.

Rudy’s previous coach.
Led the opposing team to victory that night.
Wanted to give the trophy to Rudy’s team.
Felt his team earned it even though the final score told otherwise.
“You deserve it,” he told Rudy.
“No, we won’t accept it. Your team won on the floor.”

He and his teammates walked away empty handed.

Days later.
At the senior graduation ceremony.
Coach spoke quite a bit about Rudy.
Praised him.

Rudy cried.
That’s all he could do.
Was cry.

Boys Do Want to Dance With Me

me, freshman homecomingThere I was. A young girl. Wondering if any of those boys wandering around the halls of the high school were going to ask me to Homecoming. “Probably not,” I whispered to myself, head down. I walked outside, through the parking lot. I walked home. Within the week, I discovered something. One of those boys cruising along, walking from class to class noticed me. Had thought about me. And had wanted to ask me to the dance. And he did. Ask me. And I said “OK.” I didn’t mind that he was shorter than my average [girl] height. His glasses didn’t bother me either. What I did know what that he was kind. And polite. Not overbearing or pushy.

Within the following week, I discovered something else. Some more of those boys striding along, ambling through the corridors, also had intentions of asking me to the first formal dance of my freshman year. One. Two. Three. Four. Four more boys, which included the boy I was crushing on, and the one I adored in third grade. All four boys asked me on a date. To the dance. Each boy, at a different time, approached me. Quietly, sort of shyly. And each asked, “Would you like to go to Homecoming with me?” I smiled all four times. And, in my head, in my heart, I wished I could have said “Yes!” to each boy. But I didn’t. I had already told someone I’d go with him. Someone kind and polite. So I told each of those boys, the ones who asked me too late, “Sorry, but I have already been asked.” I lowered my head, feeling bad. Yet, feeling pretty happy. Realizing that I had had it wrong. Completely wrong. Boys did want to dance with me.

Brick House

If your foundation is faulty, lacking attention, and unable to hold up the building blocks of a Brick House, hearty winds just might blow it away. If there are cracks in your foundation you can surmise that your home may simply waver, waiting for you to put some effort into fixing, repairing, willing your home to maintain its stance. But, the best house of all is one with a foundation that began as a solid, durable, unbreakable commitment, knowing you, and everyone else in your Brick House, will do everything to hold it in place, and that nothing can destroy what you’ve worked so hard to accomplish.

My family is my Brick House. At times it’s been faulty, some days our house has wavered, but mostly my family and I have been living on solid ground.  ∏


A Death in the Family

Rudy was seventeen.
A senior in high school.
Enjoying life.
Having fun with friends.
And very much involved in the game of basketball.

That was also the year that Rudy’s dad died.
In a tragic car accident.

Rudy, his parents, and two siblings.
Were living in the small beach town of Tela.
In Honduras.
Enjoying a simple life.

One day.
His father came home.
Stating he’d been offered a job in another city.
7 hours away.

Can I stay here?
Live with Rolando?
His grandpa said it would be fine.
Rudy pleaded with his parents.

After much cajoling.
And discussion.
His parents agreed.
Knowing he’d be in good hands.

One evening.
Several months later.
While watching TV.
Rudy was sadly told.
Your father has suffered in an accident.

That’s all.
Nothing more.

Rudy just sat there.
Not sure what to think.
He walked outside.
In a daze.

Out of nowhere.
A family friend suddenly hollered.
I can’t believe it!
I saw it on the news!
Your dad died!

Rudy’s eyes grew wide.
His jaw dropped.
His hands fell to his knees.
Legs bent.
Causing him to fall back onto his haunches.
His head fell forward.
Onto outstretched arms.
Splayed across kneecaps.

He was shocked.

He had misunderstood.
What he was originally told.
He thought his dad was seriously injured.

Not dead.

He spent the next hours in a stupor.
Not thinking clearly.
Trying to make sense of what he had been told.
Wondering, if possibly, there had been some kind of mistake.
That it wasn’t his dad that died.

He was rushed home.
To where his mom and siblings were living.
In the town of Tegucicalpa.
7 hours away.

That drive.
In a yellow bus.
Was the longest drive of his life.

A long drive to a funeral.
The unexpected funeral of his father.
Who had died an untimely death.

Within the following few days.
Rudy had to make a heartbreaking decision.
Either return to school or stay with his mom.
To be by her side.
While she grieved the loss of her husband.
His dad.

As hard a decision it was to make.
For a young seventeen year old.
He knew what he needed to do.

I need to go back, Mom.
I need to play ball.
To get my mind off this tragedy.
Of losing Dad.
His heart was breaking.
With every word.
As he told his grieving mother.

She nodded.
Knew he was right.
He needed to move on.
To live.
To help him heal from the family’s overwhelming sadness.

Back in Tela.
Back at school.
With friends.
Rudy was overwhelmed.
With unwanted attention.
He decided he would simply have to deal with it.

When he walked.
With his head down.
Into the auditorium of his high school.
To watch a game.
Many people held his hand.
Hugged and consoled him.
Saying how sad they were to hear about the loss of his dad.

In the days that followed.
Days that seemed to last forever.
Rudy completed his academic school year as best he could.
Trying to stay focused on his school work.
While working through the grief of losing his dad.
And his constant concern for his mom.

A graduation ceremony was held in the gym.
At the end of his final semester.
Where he played basketball.

All the seniors were expected to attend.
As their last right of passage.
Into the adult world ahead of them.

Rudy didn’t want to attend.
Didn’t see the point.
With his dad having just died.
Only a month before.
He didn’t think he had what it would take.
To celebrate his accomplishments.

His mom, though.
Was persistent.
She begged made him go.
Told him that he needed to close the final chapter.
Of his high school years.
Told him he’d regret it.
If he didn’t attend.

Rudy nodded.
Full of grief.
Said he’d go.
For his mom.

Rudy’s emotions took over.
He cried.
And cried.
That’s all he could do.
Was cry.

rudy:mom:HS grad
After his recognition.
He walked with his mom down the aisle.
As she held on tightly to his arm.
Happy and sad.
Tears of joy for Rudy.
And tears for the death of her spouse.

Rudy could not.
Muster the courage to attend.
The after party,
So, he quietly took a deep breath.
And walked out the door.
Leaving his school days behind him.

Ending one chapter of his life.
Renewing a familiar one.

Being back home with his mom.


You’re 16. A boy. Hanging out with your buddies that aren’t really your buddies. They are some dudes, gangster-like, having the potential of looking for trouble, who are actually friends of your real friends. And the reason you’re hanging with these hooligans is because your true-blue friends are out and about. Doing their thing. And you figure you know these people well enough, so why not hang with them. For a while. For only as long as it takes to walk to the local mom and pop market to buy some chips and an ice cold drink. Long enough to wait for your tribe to show up.

So what do you do when, after leaving the store, you become part of an encounter that has nothing to do with you, but everything to do with one of the boys you’re hanging with? He’s in deep shit because he’d been tagging the city and from what you can tell, and what you’ve heard, the guy doing the complaining is an infamous gang leader in town. It seems bizarre, unusual, and sorta thrilling, too, but you know you must keep your cool and act like this is just a typical afternoon. So when the leader suddenly  walks up to you and says, Hey White Boy, those eyebrows for real? you, without thinking, reach up and run a finger along a naturally arched brow. Yeah, they’re for real, you say as coolly as possible.

Right answer. Right tone. At least you assume so. Because that leader of the gang, the Boss, turns away, back toward the criminal who’d been painting up the city, and he wraps his arm around the chump’s neck, leading him around in circles and tells that thug-wannbe to keep his city clean, or else.

And, all you could do is watch. Stand still. Be quiet. And hope that nothing bad happens. While at the same time, wishing you could cheer the Leader on, telling him how cool it is that he’s concerned  about the city and its polished status.

Imagine that.