Happy BIRTHday, Mr. Seventeen Year Old. Happy BIRTHday To You!

brad newborn

Brad was born on August 6th, in the year 1999. The morning of his birth, which was his actual doctor given due date I was feeling a bit uncomfortable, but nothing unusual compared to the discomfort of many previous days. Rudy rolled toward me on the bed, looked at me and asked how I was feeling. “I’m good. A little cramped, but fine. Really.”

“Well, today is the baby’s due date,” he said, making two slightly bent, bouncing fingers on each hand – the “quotes” gesture. Feeling convinced that I was fine, Rudy took Roberto with him so that they both could get a  haircut. About an hour, or so, after they had left, I called Rudy’s cell phone, dialing 911, a standard emergency message. I wasn’t feeling fine, anymore! They were about 35-40 minutes south of our house, down the 57 freeway, at a friend’s barber shop. Rudy called me, sounding a little anxious, saying he’d be home as quick, and of course as safely, as possible. Jinks! He should have knocked on wood – as far as the getting home quickly statement was concerned! Rudy was driving our cute, red we bought it used Honda Civic Hatchback (instead of our more reliable, sturdy Toyota 4Runner). He wanted to take the Honda for a much needed spin, not realizing the car would choose that day to act up.

Meanwhile, with my sister and Liz at home with me, I began pacing in-out-back-forth through the kitchen, living room, and dining room. I was feeling unusually, and unnaturally, worried.

Rudy called. “I don’t know what is wrong the the car! It’s going so slow! It was driving fine then it suddenly made a noise! I keep pressing the accelerator but the car won’t go any faster than 35mph! All the other cars are whipping right past us on the freeway! I even have to drive with my emergency lights on! I will get there as soon as I can! I will!”

He told me later – much later, when I really cared – that while that little car chugging along, eight year old Roberto and Rudy were constantly tapping the dashboard while talking to the hatchback. “Please, you have been a good buddy! Don’t die on us now, please! We need you to get us home! Baby boy is going to be born today!” Rudy coaxed.

Back at home, all I could do was try to relax and breath, a difficult task while feeling concerned. I could tell my sister was nervous so I tried to minimize it by saying I was okay, that everything was going to be fine. I’m pretty sure she could tell I was not really fine, but she played along, for my benefit, so as not to make me even more anxious. Back and forth, back and forth I ambled. I knew something was happening, something… like a baby being born on his due date! I was acting a bit strange – strange for me, that’s for sure. About 50 minutes after my 911 call to Rudy, I heard the car horn – about two blocks away! Honk! Honk! Honk!-Honk!-Honk! The horn was being pounded constantly, all the way up the winding streets of our neighborhood. The noise continued even as Rudy drove up onto our driveway. Hooooonk!!

And then I heard their happy screams. “Woo! We’re here! We did it!” Rudy and Roberto both yelled, heads dangling out the car windows. Rudy thanked the car for a job well done, “You made it! Thanks Man!” Running, and smiling, yet anxious looking, they ran into the house. Rudy grabbed the already packed baby bag loaded with all my necessities. After kissing the Liz and Roberto goodbye, and waving to my sister as she stood in the front doorway, Rudy helped me into the 4Runner. Off we went! Rather quickly.

“This is it. Today is the day,” I said with a pained look.

When we were walking down the corridor of the hospital I remember a group of little girls, maybe girl scouts on a field trip, walking along. Normally, I would most likely say hello to them but I just barreled past. Sort of with a get out of my way, NOW! attitude but, in a polite way, I’m sure. We sat together, Rudy and I did, on a bench opposite the reception area of the maternity ward. A nurse happened by, looking at me. “Are you in labor?” she asked, professionally. Oh, she’s good, she knows her stuff, I sighed. “Yeah,” is all I could say. Within minutes I was taken to the only room available, a small closet size room filled with all the necessary medical equipment.

I. Didn’t. Care!

The hospital staff – it seemed there were so many – positioned me as comfortable as possible on the bed. There was no time to spare. With the help of a midwife (a woman I had never met…), I gave birth to Bradford, within 15 minutes!

Happy BIRTHday, to our wonderfully wonderful 17 year old!

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.

Hair Care, Senior Style

My senior year of high school was nearing its end which meant a professional [looking] photo had been scheduled, on a non-school day, late afternoon. Yikes! For me, that meant stepping outside of my comfort zone. Let it be known that I am not, have never been, and never will be a girl that knows how to make her hair and [very minimal] makeup look awesome. Thank goodness for my older sister Chris, who, on the other hand, was the hair and makeup girl in the family. She definitely had style.

“Hey Daph, let me fix your hair for your senior picture,” she said as she fiddled with my fuzzy mop.
“Really? I just fixed it,” I said in response.
“Come on. I will make it look nice. You have time,” she pleaded.
“Alright. Fine,” I not-so-willingly agreed.

Honestly, I was nervous. Wondering what the other kids at school would think. My hair looking styled, instead of an unkempt frizz-ball. But I figured what the heck, why not? You only live once, right? So, Chris began brushing my hair, completing the finishing touches an hour or so later.

“Oh, I think you are going to like it. Your hair looks so pretty,” she said as she turned me toward the mirror.

I looked at my reflection. My hair was styled, smooth, and she had added a bit of soft curl and parted it just right. She definitely made me look nice. Really pretty, in fact. But… it didn’t look like me. Not the me I was used to. My hair looked too perfect. Too smooth. Too focused on.

“Sorry, Chris,” I winced, feeling bad. “But I don’t want to take my picture with this hair style.”

So… I washed my hair, again. I needed to restore it to my normal fuzzy puff at the bottom, less so on top.

senior pic 1980

“O–K” my sister responded to my freshly washed and wildly dried hair. “At least you pulled the top portion back. Makes it look better.”
“Yep. Now I am definitely ready to have my picture taken,” I stated firmly, as I walked out the front door.

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.

A Boy. A Teen. A Birthday.

IMG_3021Those of you with teens know how it is, people exclaiming how hard life must be raising a kid within the realm of disobedience, rebellion, and all together a know-it-all attitude. A kid who doesn’t care about much, except themselves.

Well, I am here to say: Not in my household, not with my kid.

(Ok, ok, I admit nobody is perfect, there are days…… but today’s writing isn’t about that.)

Because today I celebrate Bradford Ramon Antonio. Today, he turns 15 years old.

Brad defies the term of what many people describe a teenager to be.

He is very conscientious, well-mannered, respectful, helpful, polite, inquisitive, and very aware. He’s a conversationalist, open to any discussion. Brad talks about his day, his life, his dreams, desires, and overall hopes about not only his future but the future of our world.

I am his mom.

And I am here to report.

Brad isn’t simply a teenager. He’s much more than that. His voice is as valid as mine. His perspective on life is his own. And like any teen, he simply wants respect, to feel valued and heard. To know that he is surrounded by love. Love of family, friends, and a joyful life. He wants to believe that when he falls there will always be someone to help him up.

Brad is a boy. Mentally and physically working his way through his teen years. Learning. Trying. Expressing. Enjoying. Succeeding.

And so today, today is the day, to say,

Happy Birthday, to the one and only, Bradford Ramon Antonio!

i’m the mother of a jerk!

IMG_0926one day my teenage son walked into my bedroom, and stated,

oh geez, mom. this girl is planning on asking me to a dance. but the thing is, she’s not my type, not someone i want to go with. so i have this plan. when she asks me during class, or wherever we are, surrounded by a ton of people I will say yes!

yes? i wonder.

yes, yes. but then when we are somewhere else, when no one else is around i will tell her no.

no? i say a bit too loud.

yes, no. he claims.

i stare at him. i don’t get it.

mom, it’s like this. I don’t want her to feel embarrassed by me saying no in front of everyone (‘ah, how sweet’, i think) but, I don’t want to go with her, so i will tell her the truth afterwards.


it’s good, mom. it’s good.

you’d be a jerk! i say in defense of all girls being treating badly by dumb boys.

huh? no. no mom, no. he laughs. you see i have no idea when she might ask. she might even have it announced over the intercom, and you know, i want to look like a good guy, but then, well, i don’t want to go, so i will be nice about it when i tell her forget it. i’ll be kind. i’ll even smile, let her know it’s okay, that i am doing her a favor.

oh! my! god! i scream, even though my mother told me to never take God’s name in vain.

he laughs.

i try to explain how unreasonable, how jerky, how rude! his idea is.

it’ll be okay mom. trust me. she’ll be fine.

he saunters, nonchalantly out of my bedroom.

you’re a jerk! i yell after him, knowing he knows i’m a good mom, a responsible mom, and that sometimes words fly out without much effort.

he laughs.

i love you, too, mom, he shouts back.

not two minutes pass when he walks back into my room.

he’s laughing, jovially.

she just tweeted me, he begins. she straight out told me not to believe anything i’ve heard. she has no plans to ask me to the dance.

thank goodness, i say. so glad she won’t have to deal with your jerkiness, i add.

ah, mom, you’re funny.

funny or not, i realize that somewhere down the line, when teaching my son about being a good, honest person, and the importance of treating others with respect, he twisted it, most likely without intent, and assumed it was okay to do the wrong thing to make something right.