Summer in the Waiting Room: Faith • Hope • Love
Chapter 3: Growing Up García
My siblings and I were part of two families from the same parents. Let me explain what I mean. The first four were born in the early 1950s. My little sister and I came more than a decade later. David, the oldest, was the patriarch of the kids. Barbara turned twelve years old a couple of months after I was born. Patty was born eighteen months after Barbara. Steve, the youngest of my four older siblings and the baby of my parents “first” family, was born a year after Patty. He’s older than I am by nine years. My little sister Sisi and I make up my parents’ “second” family. According to our older siblings, she and I had it easy. Oh well. Lucky for me and Sisi.
Dad gave us the lifelong love of reading, learning, and listening to music. The tight shelf space in my parents’ bedroom was stacked with paperbacks and periodicals. Every edition of National Geographic magazine published since the mid-1950s was displayed on a homemade shelf for all to see. In the dining room, he had the record player and cassette player in a place of prominence, surrounded by albums that included Tex-Mex, mariachi, other genres of Mexican music, and the standards—Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, and Nat King Cole. He came home from work every day shortly after 5:00 p.m. with the evening edition of the San Jose Mercury News tucked under his arm. We had to be prepared at dinner to be peppered with questions about the day’s world and local events. When we gathered around the kitchen table for the holidays as adults, he would sit at the counter looking into the kitchen with a highball of whiskey and water in hand. Without warning, Dad would make a controversial philosophical or political statement. He sat back with a mischievous grin and watched his educated kids flare up in heated debate.
Mom, on the other hand, was the epitome of the warm and loving maternal parent. She taught us about unconditional love, faith, compassion, and perseverance. Even during the last days before her death in 2003, she remained strong in her convictions and her belief that every day being alive is a good day. While any indiscretion on our part would be met with Dad’s scowls and rebukes, Mom reacted with gentle counsel and loving support, urging us to do better the next time. She was our biggest cheerleader, encouraging us to be the best we could be. After all those years of watching me play sports, I’m not sure if Mom really understood the complexities of the games, but I do know that she cheered every time it looked like I did something good. Every morning, she reminded us that the day would be good. As long as the sun came up and God gave us another day, all would be well. After each meal, she insisted that we say, “Thank you, God,” and she encouraged us to pray “Our Father” before bedtime.
Next time ~ Chapter 4: Leaving the Cocoon