Connections

Life is such that we cross paths with people just about every day whom we’ll never see again. Imagine how many missed friendships, missed relationships, and missed connections occur on a daily basis.

If you subscribe to the belief that everything happens for a reason, then perhaps missed connections don’t matter.

The second smallest child in this photo is my mother. At the far right is her mother, and the others are siblings. Like my dad, she emigrated from Mexico.

My dad arrived to the United States in 1954; my mother arrived in 1955. Both had short stops in other parts of the Southwest before settling in San Jose. My mom, and the rest of her family, spent six months with one of my mother’s aunts on San Antonio Street (near Our Lady of Guadalupe Church) before residing in a permanent home on McCreery Avenue in the Sal Si Puedes (Get Out If You Can) neighborhood.

My dad, and his family, weren’t too far away. They resided in a modest home — walking distance from the original location of Mark’s Hot Dogs on Alum Rock Avenue.

After attending Mayfair Elementary School (now Cesar Chavez), my mother attended Lee Matheson Junior High, and eventually graduated from Overfelt High School. She and her friends used to walk home with a handful of others, among them, future Heisman Trophy recipient and Super Bowl champion, Jim Plunkett. My dad bounced from school to school, ultimately graduating from San Jose High School in 1965 near the top of his class.

Of course, it’s impossible to detail everything that my parents experienced between the 1950s and 1966 — the year they met, but I’ll share some of what I remember being told.

My dad says that he often saw my mom on the bus, but he didn’t have the confidence to talk to her. By the time his confidence grew, she had company — an 11-month-old baby boy named Joseph.

Back to that in a moment.

Following a stellar high school career, my dad spent his days studying journalism at San Jose State College (not yet a university). Prior to, or during his days in college, he earned a little money working at a car wash on Santa Clara Street.

Then came love.

The genesis of my parents’ relationship began shortly after my dad summoned enough courage to talk to my mom. He learned that my mother was raising her son alone. And while he had plans to graduate on time, love, and yours truly, impeded that outcome.

In time, marriage, adoption, a new career, another child, and a decade-long relationship came to pass. While I‘ve occasionally mentioned my parents’ separation, there were many instances of love and laughter during their marriage. My mom‘s weekend breakfasts and weekday dinners were incredibly tasty, and our family time together was especially fun. Our TV nights watching All in the Family, The Mary Tyler Moore Show, The Flying Nun, and Welcome Back Kotter were pretty awesome, too. Of course, we also watched our share of news.

And like most families, there were a few scares. My older brother, Joseph, woke up one morning with a serious case of jaundice; I was completely submerged in a tub of ice because of an extremely high fever (not sure if this is a good remedy nowadays); and not to be outdone, my younger brother flipped his walker over near a bed of strawberries in our backyard, creating a deep gash on his forehead.

Despite these scares, and my parents’ short time together, there is a lot to appreciate.

It’s mind boggling to think about all that had to occur to bring my mother and father together. Somehow, two small children, from two small towns, separated by hundreds of miles, ultimately, ended up on the same bus in a new country.

Thankfully, because of that connection, I am able to write about it today.

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