I married my best friend, my beautiful Lupe on Saturday May the 24th of 1980.  We were married in Clovis New Mexico, my hometown.  Big, traditional, Mexican Wedding Affair.  Filled with a plethora of handmade Kleenex flowers. Frilly Tuxedo shirts.  Rented patent leather shoes.  Yards of Resplendent Lace, and Catholic accoutrement everywhere.  Best thing that ever happened to me.  Lupe helped me grow up.  I was a bits on the wild and wooly side of life when I met her.  Drinking age in Texas was 18 in 1976.  I started college in 1976.  I started at West Texas State University in Canyon, just south of Amarillo.  That time of my life brought me my first taste of real freedom.  My, freedom and ability to make my own choices, for good, bad, or in between.  This newfound freedom also led me to experience festive activities with the best of them.  I was a bit off center when I met that gorgeous woman on the telephone.  It was a brisk afternoon in the fall of 1977.  Our lives became inseparably mingled at that time.  We began our journey together.  After our resplendent, rowdy wedding, we melted.  We melted into our gentle, binding, mesmerizing honeymoon in Santa Fe New Mexico.  Then we made our way to the small, little rundown house I had managed to acquire in Lubbock Texas.  I had moved to Lubbock about 9 months before we were married.  After I moved to Lubbock, one of my goals was to acquire something.  Something we could call our own, even before we were married.  I found this tiny little house in one of Lubbock’s original, already deteriorating neighborhoods.  It was where we came to Lubbock after our time in Santa Fe.

            In September of that year of 1980, Lupe scored a secretary job with the Laboratory for Methodist Hospital.  Methodist evolved into a part of what is Covenant Health here in Lubbock today.  3 years later in 1983, I started with Methodist Hospital as a Phlebotomist.  I became a Phlebotomist, because I lost a job.  I had been working for a little over a year for a private wholesale bakery supply business.  I had been their warehouse manager and delivery man.  I had one employee.  He was me.  I swept the floors, stocked the supplies, and delivered the goods.  I thought everything was going good.  That was until the day they called me into their office to tell me they were having to declare bankruptcy.  My world was turned upside down.  I had to hit the bricks and find another gig.  In a matter of 2 and a half months, I had 4 different jobs.  I have never had trouble finding work.  What I was struggling with at that time, was finding something that felt comfortable.  After the 4th job that just did not feel right, I told Lupe I needed to return to college. I needed to build some foundation for something that would help me find my way.  I told her I needed a job where I could work in the evenings and on weekends. That would give me time to attend college classes at Texas Tech University during the day.  Well, at that time, Lupe had been in the laboratory for 3 years.  She told me there was this position that they hired for all the time.  Something that just might be right for me.  They needed people for this position 24 hours a day, 365…  I asked her what it was?   She said it was a Phlebotomist.  I said a Phleboto—what??  Phlebotomist??  “What does a Phlebotomist do?”  I asked her.  She said, “They collect blood samples.”

            “Ay Yi Yi, I don’t know if I can do that Lupe…”  I said.  “Put needles into people?  Geez, I never thought about doing that…“  Well, You may already know that I have been a Phlebotomist for almost 40 years now.  Now, let’s get back to my story.  My children.  I survived my terrorized entry into the world of Phlebotomy.   Lupe and I were then working together on the same evening 3-11 shift.  A “Swing” shift.  Ever heard of that?  Its name goes back to working in factories building munitions and airplanes during World War II.  The American mainstream music of the time was big band rendition.  Songs like Glen Miller’s “Moonlight Serenade”.  The Andrew’s sisters’ “Boogie, Woogie, Bugle Boy” –all the way into Kay Kiser and his Orchestra’s, “Praise the Lord and pass the Ammunition”. 

Imagine all the factory workers that came off shift close to midnight.  They would find themselves swinging with their friends somewhere.  Imbibing and dancing into the early morning hours.  Swing Shift at its best.  Well both Lupe and I were working swing shift hours from Sunday through Thursday.  We had no real responsibilities.  Particularly those varied verses of procreation that make their way into our lives. Our swing shift was so very cool.  We lived on this shift for 2 years together.  From 1983 until 1985.  We went to work at 3 in the afternoon.  We finished at 11PM.  We went home, watched TV together for a couple of hours, and then slept late every morning.  We sometimes did not even rouse from our warm bed until close to noon.  We would finally get things moving.  We would take a shower, fix our meal, and then watch “As the world turns”.  Lazy early afternoons as we got ready.  We were incensed with all the characters on the soap, and their intermingled mischief with one another.  We were incensed with it all, but we kept coming back every afternoon.  We had to see what they were doing next. 

            Finally, about 2:30 every afternoon, we would start our trip to the hospital to work our next evening shift.  Sometimes after our shift, we would play with the others we worked with.   We would end up watching some live music somewhere.  We would imbibe with our friends and dance with and sing along with the band.  Some of those subsequent morning wakeup calls, wouldn’t come until after midday.  We were free, unencumbered and in Love with one another.  Those Sunday thru Thursday shifts were quite swinging as well.  We could ask for Sunday off.  Then we would have Friday, Saturday, and Sunday off in a row.  We would not have to return to work until Monday afternoon at 3PM.  Lupe and I ended up in Juarez Mexico a few times for the weekend.  We would leave our truck on the El Paso side, walk over the bridge and be in Juarez, lickety split. The exchange rate made it so easy on our money.  We would enjoy the restaurants, the shopping and immerse ourselves in the roots and history of our shared culture.  Finally, we would head back to El Paso, to find the truck.  The Cartels had not invaded like they have now.  They were probably in the shadows.  At least the atrocious things they are infamous for had not come to the forefront yet.  Sometimes we would drive to the mountains and play in the pines for the weekend.  Those two years were giddy, lethargic and became so very comfortable.  I had taken the lab job to return to school.  Well, that was put on the to do list during those 2 years.  That chapter did not come to be until a few years later.   

            Well, that lazy period of my life’s direction was changed.  It came the day Lupe went to see the doctor.  “Really!!?”  I was trying to stay upright and to keep from having to sit down.  “What did she just say?”  I was thinking to myself.  “A Baby??  We’re gonna be parents?  Wait a minute.  What about my unencumbered lifestyle??  You mean, I really have to get busy now??”

I was trying to get my mind around that news.  I was in a stupor.  About 3 months after Lupe informed me I would be joining the ranks of Pater very soon, I was grieving.   I was still stuck in grieving for the trajectory my life was gonna have to become acclimated to.  “Gonna have to get responsible now.”  That’s what was repeatedly going through my brain at that time.  Going through my brain, but it was still not quite registered.  That was until…

 Lupe and I were driving around running errands.  Her belly was getting prettier every day.  Her Tum Tum was beginning to get accustomed to scooting over and creating room.  It was making room for our first child.  Lupe was beginning to shine.  Maternal Energy was beginning to emanate from every pore of her skin.  An ethereal glisten began to light up her beautiful long, waist length brunette hair.  Her shiny eyes were beginning to fill with a tranquil… knowing.  I should’ve spilled myself into her energy.  I was so immersed in my gritchin and groaning about our lives taking this new redirection.   I was blind to the beautiful, universal power that was beginning to write the next chapter of our lives.  “How we gonna be able to afford bringing in another life to be a part of ours?”  was all I could think of.  I was supposed to be done with school long before this came to be.  I was supposed to have our small, rundown, little shell of a house refurbished.  This was supposed to be accomplished long before.   How could we ever be expected to bring our child into the evidence.  The evidence of my lazy bones way of living.   Well, Lupe and I were driving west on 34th street in the middle of town in Lubbock Texas that day.  I was approaching the intersection that went across Quaker Avenue.  Little did I know…the tempest that inhabited Lupe’s being was brewing. 

            I was on my rant again.  “What are we gonna do Lupe?  We need some money to fix things up before we become parents.  I wanted to be done with school before we became parents.”  Well, my tirade was being directed at the only passenger with child riding with me that day.  Lupe’s face had become sullen, serious, and stoic.  She was staring out straight ahead through the windshield.  Then I learned about a part of this woman I had never seen before.

From way deep down, from the center of her being, I witnessed a passionate, fury unleash itself like I had never seen before… 

Lupe’s eyes pierced me to the bone and her fire singed me as she unleashed her passion.   She metamorphosized into a Mother…  A Mother on a mission.  She turned and leaned her face into mine…“Well, I don’t care what you are thinking about!!!  I am going to have this baby!! With or without you, this baby is coming!! You better just decide what you want to do right now!!!  I’m having this baby with or without your help!!!” It all came in a torrent of ferocity that I had never seen come from her before.  A torrent that came in an unstoppable, unleased cascade…

            It was like Lupe had turned to me driving the car, grabbed me by the throat and furiously slapped me repeatedly across my face, back and forth.  That was when my focus was… rearranged… I decided it was time to really, get busy.  When I drive through that intersection now, my mind will sometimes take me back to that time of my life and I remember… I finally started trying to get comfortable with my new position as the paterfamilias of our union.  That 800 square feet of a little house began to transform.  The interior was my focus then.  I learned how to hang wallpaper in the kitchen. I began putting up new drywall.  We didn’t have a truck at that time.  Just our 1982 Buick Regal.  We went to the Payless Cashways lumberyard to pick up the drywall.  I bought a sheet of plywood and put it on the roof of the car first.  Then my sheetrock purchase went on top of that.  We ran some twine through the open windows and kept it all tied down.  We tentatively creeped the car back to our little house and I began to learn.  I learned how to nail up that sheetrock.  It was the beginning of transforming that little house.  It began to transform into a home, a place to welcome that new little life that would be living with us soon.  We made many trips to the lumberyard during that chapter of our lives.  All with our materials balanced and tied to the roof of our car.  My joy began to grow.   

            Milena might have come to us on April 1st, but Lupe was determined not to have our first child born on April Fools Day.  Her pain finally became too constant and too intense on the morning of April 2nd of 1985.  People born on April 2nd under the sign of Aries can… “Possess uncanny powers of imagination and may spend a great deal of their life dreaming… with their eyes open…”  That was exactly how Milena came to us that wondrous day. 

            When I witnessed Lupe’s strength and determination that morning when Milena came to us, I later thanked God for making me a man…  Without a doubt reader, I know who is the strongest of the two sexes, hands down, no doubt about it…  Women should be the ones running things on this planet.  I held her hand until her nails bit into my palm and wiped the sweat from her brow.  Not exactly in the fray like she was, but I was there by her side.  Trying to let her know I was her partner, her ally, her companion, her protector into this chapter of miracle.  We were having a baby… After what seemed like endless rounds of hanging on for shorter and shorter minutes, and then bracing for Lupe’s next example of brave grit and conviction, Milena came to us… With her eyes open.  Gently blinking up at the bright lights above her.  Not crying.  Not crying at all.  Just gentle entreating whimpers.  They seemed to say, “Where am I?  Who are you? Are you, my Mama?”  I witnessed this all through a cascade of tears.  Our Milena had made her passage into our lives.  Tears of absolute joy, elation and wonder spilled unimpeded from Lupe’s happy eyes and from mine as well.  What had I been afraid of?  When she came to us, the trajectory of my life was defined.   She put me on a track to do the best I could do, not for just Lupe and me.  Now it was for our Family…  The three of us.

            Five years later we became the four of us. Our Son Damian came to live in our welcoming midst and put his unique signature on the next united chapter of our lives.  He came into the world screaming…  “It’s cold out here…Put me back where I was… Warm and snuggly…Put me back…!!!”  That is what he was howling to all of us.  He was born on April the 18th of 1990.  Our tears of gratitude for him flowed like a river that morning.  The accent for Capricorn’s born on January the 18th is… Charisma.  He’s “Forthright and honest in his emotional dealings with others… “ I love him in the fathomless, deep way I love his Sister. 

            I would willingly lay down my life for my children.  She’s 37 years old now.  He’s 32 years old now.  In addition to Lupe, they are the original part of my revelation.  My revelation that we live in magic.  We live in a universe that loves us and wants the best for all of us…  Everywhere.

P.S.  That magic also brought me a handsome, tall, giving Son in Law.  That union brought me 4 little, bright stars.  They are from the farthest, most illuminating, most extraordinary part of the Cosmos…   

Hug and kiss your loved ones today… Steven… 

I hope you can visit my blog, “Steve’s Chronicles of a Modern Day Vampire.”  It’s parked at labbuggy.com