Monday, April 21, 2008

Mr. B

I just don't think I would be the same person today, if it weren't for Mr. B. For some reason, I have been thinking about him these days. I think it strange, but the Lord put some really wonderful people in my life, and most of them there to tell me they loved me, found me a valuable person, or were an encouragement.

I think I was a junior at La Gabriela Mistral, barely 15, because I had skipped 8th and 9th grades for which my brother Edwin never forgave me. He being a year older than me, and this squirt was skipped two grades and he only one. It was a blow to him, but that is all the topic of another entry. Mr. B is for today.

Mr. B, of course was not his real name. His real name was Maxwell Brenneman, who was a man of God, called to serve in Puerto Rico. When he went there he barely knew a few words in Spanish, and when he left, I think he had hardly learned a handful more. I don't know if it is my memory or was it my youth, but I had no maturity nor insight then. If I could only talk to him now, there are a multitude of questions I would ask him or revisit with him. First I would ask, where was he born? I think it was California. Then to retell the story about how he and Mrs. B, Elaine Pullman (or Poleman), met. Perhaps to tell me stories of his youth. There is so much I would ask him, since he in so many ways was my second Dad. Daddy, I have to write about him next, I know. But today is Mr. B.

I have to tell you, and it is common knowledge in my family, my family was dysfunctional. I don't think I will get a ton of negative fan mail about this. They know, but I didn't have that word in my vocabulary then. I knew only that I was unhappy, that my parents marriage was rocky, and I was grappling for air to survive. I don't need to go into the facts about my brother's addiction, the fights, and stress. But I will tell you about my search for meaning in such a difficult situation. And no, my faith is not a cop out or escape, because I am long removed and resolved about my past, and I am still as firm a believer now and much much more as the day I accepted Christ into my life, but yeah today is about Mr. B.

I met Mr. B the week after he gave my cousin Evie and my aunt, Titi Georgina, a ride home from San Patricio Plaza in his oldie but goodie, fast Volkswagen Van. How such a simple act of kindness, could propel so many significant events is beyond my understanding. What a turning point if I ever heard one. The following week my mom and Evie went to church, and the following one, I went and never stopped going, until it closed in the late 80's having served as a priceless servant in Summit Hills. It is the same church that patiently answered the doubter's questions for over a year and lovingly hugged me every Sunday. Then I opened my heart to Christ and saw God do a transformation in my thinking, emotions, and life. And Mr. B played an important role in all of that.

When I started going to Grace Brethren Bible Church, I joined the youth group which was about 15 kids that came together every Friday night. And since I had a lot of questions, I would get picked up first and travel around Guaynabo and Bayamon for at least an hour, all the way asking questions and holding on for dear life because Mr. B was a fast driver. The trails we followed were as mysterious as a maze, but the conversations were clear and inspirational. Mr. B, who was a humble scholar and licensed minister, had gone to Grace Seminary, in Indiana, to get his degree, so he had a wealth of information. But it wasn't just head knowledge though. He also taught me by encouragement to believe in myself, to keep my head up high and walk forward in faith, and to laugh alot and learn to eat tacos.

Tacos. A tradition, I took to my own family. Though not necessarily on Saturdays, once I had a family of my own, I made tacos every week. Just like the B's, sour cream, chopped onions, tomatoes, shredded lettuce and cheddar cheese, on crispy freshly fried tacos shells. A crisp tablecloth and a family around a table, sharing with a grateful guest who was allowed to peek into their happy home. Those were the days of fun conversations and two very good role models of a loving family and marriage. I miss them.

Mr. B's kidneys didn't last very long after I got married and had my Annie in the mid seventies. Mr. and Mrs. B's departure back to the states because of his illness was much too quick for me, like sand slipping through my hands. It wasn't long after that he died. I wasn't able to say a proper good bye and even now, after Mr. B's death, I haven't kept up with Mrs. B as I should. I do get updates from Rosa, about how she is doing, but I know that is not enough, I shamefully know. I do remember Mrs. B always saying when we would depart that she would see me next Sunday unless the Lord came first. I do hope I get to see her sometime soon. But as for Mr. B, I suppose, I will have to wait for heaven or the rapture, whichever comes first. God bless him. Even so come Lord Jesus.

7 comments:

Ana said...

I didn't know the Tacos cames from the B's. I made our version (more burritos than tacos) last night while I was talking to you. I am the only who uses the sour cream, but I persevere and may one day they will try it. I know I didn't care for sour cream when we were little.

Nancy Makeever said...

My dear Elba,
What a surprise when Ruth emailed me to say you had bloged with your memories of Dad. Our years in Puerto Rico are so dear to both of us, we still think of ourselves as "Borinqueñas".
Mom is living at Grace Village Retirement Home in Winona Lake, Indiana. She enjoyed reading your comment and is in good health. Ruth and Walter lived 9 years in Spain as missionaries. Their two boys and one daughter speak the most beautiful Spanish. Ruth has two grandsons and another one on the way. They live in Columbus Ohio. I am married and living in Bradenton Florida.
Please give our love to your family and know that you have made me proud to say that "Mr. B" was my father. My parents thought of all the kids at the church as part of their family and have great memories of all of you.
Dios Bendiga....your friend Nancy Brenneman Makeever

Elba said...

Dear Nancy,
I am so amazed! I don't know if to laugh with joy or cry!!How did Ruth ever see my blog? I am so surprised and blessed. I would never have dreamed that writing this entry would have produced a contact with you all. Please email me at mijardinflorido@gmail.com which is one of my email addresses. I am so thrilled to know Mrs. B continues in good health. Rosa and I have talked of driving up to see her sometime. Nowadays Mami is requiring a bit more care as she has Alzheimer's but she's still remains as cheerful and good natured as always. Please tell your Momma that I remember her affectionately and I would love to talk to her and both you and Ruthie. What sweet memories. Thank you for your kind remarks and update.

Love,

Elba

Elba said...

Nancy emailed me and let in on the way they found out about my blog. I wrote my blog, and in it I wrote Grace Brethren, and guess what? A friend of Ruth, Mr. B's daughter had a google alert for Grace Brethren and a quote from my blog came up. She read it and emailed Ruth and thus the chain of events happened, just like in my blog when I said how I could not understand how one simple act of kindness could propel so many other events. God did it to me again. I guess to say never despise the small things we do. God takes notice and can make wonderful things out of them. Speechless again.

Sarita said...

Mr. B...frankly speaking, the loving father we wished we had. I mean, I loved my Dad, flaws and all, but Mr. B had such a love for everyone. We was such a family man, a man of God. Treasured memories that now are all the more special when revisited with more mature eyes and mind. I have been thinking a lot about Mr. B lately. Don't know why. Amazing how he touched our lives. He made us all feel special. I was just a kid, but still he would treat me with respect and actually listened to whatever I had to say. What a man. So I guess that makes both of us members of his fan club. Just thinking about him brings tears to my eyes, I miss him so much. Like you, there are so many questions I would ask him. Anyway, I'm grateful for having met him and admired him and for everything he taught me,specially that he brought Jesus to my life. Mrs. B was also special, but in a different way. I remember her sense of humor, but also her devotion to her husband and her family. She could smile and sing at the same time she played the piano. I'll never forget camp during the summer. Two weeks for $20, everything included. Las cenas pot luck y las noches de conmemoracion de la comunion con lavado de pies. So many sweet memories. At least we had church during that difficult time in our lives and no one can take that away from us. Hope we can find that beautiful red beach...

Sarita said...

Se me olvidaba....hasta Leopoldito Fernandez encontro a Jesus en esa iglesia. Mira que impacto tuvo el darle un simple pon a mi prima.

Elba said...

Sarita,
Gracias por tu comentarios. I know Nancy, Ruth, Mrs. B will appreciate them also. I have to tell them that Sarita was thinking about Mr. B not knowing I had written this blog entry. I only told her last night and she came and checked it out. Those camp days were wonderful, weren't they? I have to ask Nancy and Ruth about the beach we would go to when we were in Yuquiyu, because we would like to go back. We'll see.

Un abrazo hermanita.