Helena Rodriguez: PNT Staff Writer
For many people, Lubbock is a place to shop until you drop, dine out and go nightclubbing. For me, the Hub City is a place where it all began — literally.
My parents met in Lubbock in August of 1963 and married on Sept. 25, 1965. It was only fitting that we were in Lubbock as they celebrated their 40th wedding anniversary three weeks ago. Mom and Dad didn’t want to make a big deal out of their Big 4-0. As a matter of fact, we had all gone to Lubbock for a different reason, to see my 82-year-old grandma who is not in the best of health.
As luck would have it though, their anniversary fell on that Sunday that we were leaving Lubbock and it only took a little bit of coaxing to get Mom and Dad to take us and our children back to the spot where it all began.
Dad treated our children to the same mini-tour he gave my sisters and I when we were young. It’s a tour that I hope always stays in the minds of my daughter and my nieces because, as I thought to myself as we drove to the cruising area where Mom and Dad met, right next to Joyland and the river in Mackenzie Park, none of us would be here today if both of their cars had just kept on rolling.
Before the romantic tour, we first asked Dad to take us to “the wall.” The wall is a mural at Aztlan Park that Dad showed us girls when we were young. The mural still stands today in the Guadalupe neighborhood on land that had once been a “campesino” camp for migrant workers. The wall depicts the history of Hispanics in the area. Dad told us the wall had been vandalized once, but it was restored and remains intact today.
This visit to the wall was also fitting on this day because it took us back even further than Mom and Dad’s beginning.
After that, our caravan drove to Mackenzie River. With my sister’s video camera rolling, Mom and Dad told us about how they were both cruising around with friends the day they met. There were different versions as to who tried to get whose attention first, but Dad and his friends stopped and the rest is history. Mom says she agreed to be the spokesperson for the girls, with the condition that she get first pick of the guys. So Mom got first pick, which was my dad, and she refused to give him up, even when one of her roommates later tried to get her to switch.
Mom and Dad got engaged over a year later and were married at St. Helen’s in Portales. For their honeymoon, they went to the Lubbock County Fair.
I’m glad we made time to stop at Mackenzie Park to relive that day in 1963 because I think it’s important that we share stories of our parents’ courtships with our own children. In a lot of ways my daughter and nieces, as well as many children today, are missing out because there’s been a lot of divorces in our family and no recent marriages. My sister, Becky, is getting married in June. It’ll be her second marriage, and given the times in which we live, a wedding in itself is something to celebrate. We haven’t had a wedding in our family in more than a decade and I really want my daughter and nieces to develop an appreciation for married life.
As for myself, I’ve never been married. I wish I would have done things differently, but I still think that in my middle ages it may not be too late to instill this value in my daughter Laura. The best thing I can do, I suppose, is set a better example when it comes to dating.
As for Mom and Dad, I thank God they have stuck together through good and bad over the past four decades. They are role models for our children.