Saturday, April 26, 2008

April Paintings

You know sometimes I have a flurry of paints and sometimes I don't. These are some of the ones I have been painting recently. I love Bamboo. Even the name is fun, isn't it? But what I love about it is it's strength, yet flexibility. They are vertical yet their branches arch out horizontal. Beautiful they are. The poppies speak for themselves.
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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.