I spent my 47th birthday having breakfast with my dad and sister, getting a pedicure, and celebrating with my very best friends, my Tertulia Girls. They have been my best friends since I was 9, 11, 15 and for the past 16 years of Tertulias with all of them. We had a great time eating and having margaritas at my cousin Sylvia's restaurant, Sylvia's Enchilada Kitchen.
After dinner a small group of us went to Edison's, a new bar in my neighborhood and I danced the night away. Edison and I share a birthday so it was very appropriate that they had a party and dancing that night.
I had so much fun and I didn't think about anything, how I looked, who was there, nothing. It was a very liberating feeling. Even when I slipped and fell I got right back up and kept on dancing. My friend Cami took a sympathy fall with me and when we got up she leaned in and said, "None of these twenty year old bitches could have fallen and gotten up like you did!"
She was so right and despite how much I had had to drink earlier at dinner, and being just high on life, I thought about where I was in that moment in my life and how different I was from those girls there that night. Many of them were out, maybe with their boyfriends, trying to impress them, or maybe they were single, looking for a boyfriend. Many of them could have been at that point in their life when they were trying to find a life partner, a father to their future children.
I am free because I'm past that part of my life. I'm a 47 year old woman who was already married and already had my children in life. Check, check. That isn't my goal in life and I'm free to just be me, have fun and not give a care about what others think of me. I wasn't out that night to impress any guy. I was there to have fun with my friends and with myself and I did.
The next morning my sister and I went to the Forest Park Cemetery on Lawndale in search of Mr. Martin's niche in the Abbey Mausoleum. Mr. Martin was all of my sisters' high school history teacher at San Jacinto High School, later renamed HTI (Houston Technical Institute). They loved him so much and he made such an impact on their lives. Mr. Martin went on to teach at Jones High School in the Vanguard program and he taught several of my friends too. He was an extraordinary human being. I only had a chance to meet him once very briefly when I was touring Jones when I was in 8th grade.
We followed Mr. Martin's directions to his niche just as he wrote them in his obituary that we found on Legacy.com. If you have a chance read all the beautiful words that former students have left for him there. Included in one former students' comments is a transcript of what Mr. Martin wrote and posted here inside of his niche in the photo. When we got to the mausoleum and read these words that he wrote before he passed away, it was as if he was still teaching from the beyond. My sister cried as she read his words of wisdom, his advice to all those who took the time to look for him. One last lesson.
I loved the whole piece, but I had two favorite parts. "Watch for the full moons, we are all of this Earth, love it and save it. Love thy neighbor every chance you get. Yes, dust to dust, and that's a wonderful thing! Expect no more. To thine own self be true, as much as your society will let you."
My second favorite was this, "Grow up, take full responsibility for your life, you are the product of all the decisions you have ever made. Tempus fugit, carpe diem! Abandon your myths and superstitions, embrace ethics, absolutes are for children. You have a mind, put your trust and faith there. Get rid of your selfishness and live free. Do the same to die free-----"
I felt that it was fitting that I was reading this the day after my 47th birthday. Mr. Martin's words reminded me of my former boss. He told me once, "You don't really grow up until both your parents pass away." I saw what he meant when my mom died. I felt like I grew up a little and I know that when my dad passes away I'll feel the same way. I am 47 years old now. I've become the care-giver to my father and my father has become the child. It's time for me to grow up more. I know I'm a grown-up and I care for my own children, but I feel like I'm still growing up in other areas.
I love Mr. Martins' advice to put your trust and faith in your own mind and to live free to die free. What an amazing man. What an amazing teacher. Although I've never been a formal teacher I've mentored many young people since I started my own professional life twenty-four years ago. I've been talking about that a lot this past week. I hope that one day a mentee remembers me in the same way. I hope that I touch as many lives as he did, starting with my own children's.