|Gonzalo and me, April 2009|
Gonzalo was a senior in high school and had asked me to go shopping with him to help coordinate his outfit to match his date's for the Homecoming dance, which I gladly agreed to do. He knew he would need to push my wheelchair since I wasn't able to walk more than a few steps at that time, but he didn't mind. So off to the mall we went and were having a very nice time when he spotted something he liked at The Gap. Unfortunately, the store had displays just inside the front entrance that were permanent fixtures and were not placed wide enough apart for my wheelchair to get through. I told my brother I would wait outside the store so he could look around and he could show me his findings from there. I thought it was the perfect solution as I settled down to wait for him next to a bench a few feet from the store but a few moments later, Gonzalo was at my side. I asked him what had happened and he said that he told the manager that if his sister could not get into the store then they obviously did not want his business. This was in 1990, so Gonzalo was only 17 years old but already knew what it took to be a man.
One evening just a few years ago, when he returned home from wherever it is that he was living at the time, Gonzalo said something to me that I will never forget. He told me that he's always thought of me as his second Mom. Wow.. really? My eyes welled up with tears when he said this because, as strange as it may sound, I've always thought of him as more than just my younger brother. When he succeeds at anything, my heart wants to burst with pride, as if he were my son. When things don't go his way and his dreams do not come to fruition, I hurt right along with him. I feel such a bond with him that I cannot find words to describe. So, happy birthday, little brother! I wish you all the best the world has to offer and so much more.. and I'm so glad you're my brother. You're definitely one of a kind.