Leo and I have been married for almost 20 years now, and although we generally don't make a big deal about birthdays or other holidays, this is the FIRST TIME we've been apart for one of our birthdays. I don't like it. I don't like it at all. In retribution (although it is not Leo's fault) I am going to share some things that I know about Leo with you all. :-)
Leo was born on November 26, 1948 in the hospital in Harlingen, Texas. His mother was 42 at the time, and his father was 53. He was the 2nd surviving child in a LONG line of pregnancies and his arrival (and survival) was much hoped for by his parents. Leo's mother had a condition known [back in the day] as an "Rh negative factor". The first child survived (typical for the condition) but a dozen or more during the intervening years were carried almost full-term then lost to complications caused by the condition. By the time Leo was born, doctors had begun giving blood transfusions to save the newborns. Today, the condition is handled by simple medication given to the mother. At Leo's much anticipated birth, he was given his father's first name, but also a middle name (so he is not a "Junior") and was born Leonardo Enrique Amaya.
With a sister some 13 years older than he was, Leo was "mothered" by the two women in his family as he grew up. While he loved these women fiercely, it is when he talks about his father that he speaks with deep love and admiration. Leo adored his papa.
Leo grew up in a small frame house in San Benito, just across the street from the church his family attended. His family spoke Spanish at home and Leo did not learn to speak English until he began attending school in 1954. This is actually surprising since he has only a slight accent and many people do not even recognize his Mexican heritage in his speech or looks. Leo's father was a barber in the town, easily remembered still by many of Leo's age because of his nature and the fact that he had lost a leg as a child. According to Leo, his father and an older brother had taken some sheep to town to be sold when they were young, living in northern Mexico. The boys heard what they thought were firecrackers and went to investigate. It turned out to be a fire-fight between Pancho Villa's rebel forces and the local authorities, and young Leonardo was hit in the leg. A local doctor amputated the leg and Leo claims that his father always told the story pointing out how worried he was that his parents would be angry that the boys took so long in returning home.
Leo attended parochial school until High School, then attended San Benito High School, graduating in 1966. (Note: It was just a few months after his graduation that I started the first grade in Pasadena, Texas.) After graduation, he took some college courses at Texas Southmost College in Brownsville, but found that he was not really interested in attending any more school and chose to go to work instead.
I didn't become part of Leo's story until he was nearly 40, but boy have we made up for all we missed together. He is the love of my life, my soul-mate, and the man that I depend on and adore. With little more than a week left before he comes home to me, I am nearly beside myself with anticipation. We are not always the loving couple it sounds like here as we are both opinionated and stubborn enough to fuss and fight on a regular basis. But we are firmly attached at the heart and have shared so much together that even a few days apart gets us "off-kilter". I can't wait for my sweetheart to get home to me!
Happy Birthday Leo!!!