Most people do not like the number thirteen. Hotels are built without a thirteenth floor, or at least they are numbered that way. It’s still there it’s just called the 14th floor but comes right after the 12th floor. Some people even have such a fear of the number thirteen that there is a phobia named after it called “triskaidekaphobia.” My biggest fear associated with the phobia, is spelling the name correctly. Thank God for spell check! I personally love the number thirteen and I am going to share with you the reasons why.
First and foremost did you know both my beautiful children were born on the thirteenth, Alexis August 13th and Justin September 13th. If you remember from last month’s blog it’s a miracle Justin was even born some seven years later after the labor experience Alexis gave me, but after many years of Juan begging for a chance at a son, I gave in. Juan’s mother was dying of colon cancer and we wanted to give her something to keep fighting for, a chance to meet a new grand baby. Immediately after Justin’s arrival we drove directly to Miami for her to see him, hold him, and have his baptism there so she could participate.
Anyone that may be a rookie to the Cuban culture in Miami, well let’s just say things are done just a little bit differently there. Over the years I have learned to go with the flow. So we arrange a quickie Baptism for Justin, in a Spanish only speaking church that we are not parishioners of, that does Baptisms en masse, in alphabetical order. There were at least one hundred babies there that Sunday. Unfortunately Juan’s mom was not feeling well enough to attend that day, and it was a good thing I was thinking, since they started with the letter A and our last name begins with V. When all of a sudden they call out “Justin Thomas Arias” and we are ushered to the front of the church. We are all looking around saying wait, what, who is Justin Arias? I don’t want to know how, and I don’t want to know who, but somehow we were bumped to the front of the line, Justin was baptized and we were out of there lickety split. We tease Justin to this day that his real name is Justin Thomas Arias Vega. Juan’s mom got to hold Justin, see him, and be with him for two months before she passed away in November twenty years ago.
So yesterday September 13th Justin turned 20. His birth was so easy relative to Lexi’s I could have gone out for a steak dinner after he was born. He is such an easy going, laid back, chill kind of guy which drives the rest of us type A’s crazy sometimes. He is also a “Master of Disguise” born with blonde hair and blue eyes giving me hope, that slowly went to a shade of red for a little while, and eventually went brown and brown. My favorite word of his as a baby was “opidopters” for helicopters. But the best story of Justin as a child is one day while driving home from the airport on 9A somewhere near Heckscher Drive, in Jacksonville, is a power plant that produces clouds of white smoke almost continuously. As we approached it that day Justin said “Look momma it’s a cloud factory!” I still think of it every time I go by there and smile.
In preparation for my surgery last week I mailed Justin’s birthday present early so he would have it in advance. The usual guy stuff, a Jaguar jersey, a Jaguar banner and Jumbo Shrimp banner to hang in his dorm room. So yesterday I felt bad when I called to wish him a Happy Birthday but I had nothing to surprise him with. We chatted for a while, he asked how I felt, and said he had a chapter meeting to go to so we didn’t talk long.
Then about 7:30 last night I got the call I had been waiting for since last week, the lab reports from the lymph nodes test. The doctor said he wished he got to make more of these calls because it was good news. They got it all, the lymph nodes were clear! I immediately called Juan and Alexis and texted Justin to call me after his meeting, that in fact I did have one more birthday surprise. When Justin returned the call and I gave him the good news, he said “Momma that’s the best birthday present I ever got!” “I told you the power of prayer and positivity would take care of it. The best news I ever received, a miracle, came on Wednesday the 13th! And that little boy that almost wasn’t, made his momma cry with joy as a young man with his words.
I want to end this by thanking all those near and far that prayed for me, supported me, encouraged me, took care of me, and helped me. What seemed like eternity, really only took one month from diagnosis to cure. In that month my life has changed once again. Each time I hit a bump in the road to daily happiness I realize it is really all about the attitude, friends, and faith in God’s will for us. At the Last Supper there was Jesus and his twelve disciples (13). The odd man out died for our sins and to give us new life for eternity with Him, and yesterday He gave me new life again on earth to remind me that my work here is not yet done. God I am listening loud and clear now!
P.S. Mary Lou (Juan’s mom) it’s not gone unnoticed that the gift I gave to you on September 13th 1997 you gave back to me 20 years later on September 13th 2017. I promise to love your son and grandchildren with all my heart forever! Amen and War Eagle!!