The First Week of July 2000
If the tragic events of the start of 2000 had stood alone, I would count 2000 as the darkest year of my life. I do not believe that God gives us hard times as punishment. God's reasons for sending us adversity, as unknown to us as they are, must be to make us really love and cherish the good times.
I will begin writing about the best week of my life starting with an insignificant event that took place on Saturday the 1st of July the year 2000. It was on that day that Group III/Texas Wing had its first meeting in Corpus Christi. This was my official transfer to Group III/Texas Wing and appointment as the Group 3 Training Officer. We discussed several CAP activities including initial training plans for 2001, the appointment of CC-CAP/G3 Staff and the Rockport Air Show that was to take place on the 4th of July 2000. Now, normally a CAP event of this scale would have been a grand point for me, but the events that would follow would be so happy that the Group meeting is almost forgotten in my mind. In fact, I am writing this to preserve the eclipsed memory of it before it is all but gone.
What does remain clear about that day was stage 1 of my plan. In late-June I had discussed with Jessie Rios my plan to ask Norma an important question on my birthday. We quickly agreed to keep this a well-kept secret. I also told my Cousin Joe David Soliz, who was working as a waiter at the Oasis Restaurant in Premont. I had taken Norma out to eat there, and also played a gig there with Kike Ortega's Mariachi Kineno. I informed Joe David of my plan as quickly was I could, he told me he was going to Austin, Texas for the Forth and would try to make it. That occurred on Friday 30 June 2000. The next day, after the G3 meeting, I called Norma to tell her that we had to divert to Alice, Texas to pick up a "CAP File that had been left there by the Brownsville squadron when they had done a Counter-Drug flight." Norma said that it was O.K. since she was getting her hair done at Joanna's in downtown Kingsville, Texas. We went to Alice on Highway 44 and went to the J.C. Penny's. I asked a jeweler there to show me some wedding rings and she showed me a nice set of beautiful antique-looking rings. I feel in love with them and ordered them on the spot with my seldom-used credit card. The Problem, I wasn't sure of her size. My mother tried to get it from her by trying on Norma's rings, but my mother had no idea what her own size was. I then tried to ask her in a strange way, Norma told me that she either wore an 8, 8 1/2, 9, or 9 1/2. I took an average and told the jeweler to resize them to a 9.
Stage 2 was simple, keep the whole thing a secret until the Fifth of July. This would be hard since I would have to tell almost everyone else to help me pull of the remainder of my plan.
The Third of July was a day that we set aside to celebrate our Nation's 224 birthday. We would celebrate with fireworks, mostly rockets. I bought hundreds of rockets, 245 to be exact. In all, our entire ordinance was over 800 explosive or combustible items. We invited family and friends out the Ranch. I was determined to make up for the rude events of Y2K where, as you may remember, my car had been imprinted by a dog. I got dressed in my CAP BDU's and took out the old barbeque pit. This time we tried pork ribs, slow roasted on the old red barbeque pit. I helped my father bring my Uncle Steve's black barbeque pit from his trailer. We used the black one to roast the other meat. We broke bread with Jessie and Patsy, my relatives, my parents and Anthony. J.D. Sanchez also made a guest appearance. We popped fire works for three hours and still had over a hundred left at the night's end. We were going to Norma's Ranch the next day, so we figured we could pop them there. There was only on small glitch, rockets are illegal in Kleberg County. While we were on my ranch, in Jim Wells County, we could pop rockets to our hearts content. On Norma's Ranch, in Ricardo, Texas, we were in Kleberg County.
That next day was the Forth of July. Norma spent the night over at my house. Wait, before you dirty minded people start to talk; she slept in a different room. We woke up early and went to the Air Show in Rockport, Texas. We drove over there and spent the day among flyers and their aircrafts. It was hot and sticky. We were lucky we took some chairs or I'm sure we would have collapsed. I had some waffles and got two news stories for our newsletter. We then drove to the Ricardo. The party was out of this world. All of Norma's family was there. It was fun. We played a little music, ate a little barbeque and popped some fire works. Keeping the secret was getting harder as the beer and liquor flowed. I should mention that I don't drink, remember the joy of this secret. Everyone had to know except Norma and her dad in order for the plan to be successful. Luckily, loose lips were not to be found that evening.
Evening came and morning followed. Stage 3 was now in effect. I had told Norma that I had bought some really expensive luggage, I had said this because I had let it slip that I had a "special surprise." I was sure that she suspected, so I made up a story about some expensive "Italian Luggage." I also wanted to see what she would say about buying such an expensive thing. She said that it was O.K., anyhow we needed good luggage. I then told her that I had cancelled it, hoping this would throw her off the track even further. I resolved that, even if she did know, I was going ahead "full blast." My family was going to take me out to eat at Sirloin Stockade in Kingsville. I had told Norma's mother, Margie Resendez, that I planned to ask Norma to marry me on my birthday; while Auntie Irma, one of our good friends and protectors, kept Norma locked in a closet. Juan Resendez, Norma's stepfather, had planned to go to the greyhound race track on the 5th, but was talked into going to the Sirloin Stockade instead by Norma's mother.
I had to go pick up the rings in the afternoon in Alice. I had told Norma that I had a CAP function to attend to in Alice. I know what you must think, so many lies. I was quick to let Norma know that I only lied to her if it was a good surprise. The rings were finally ready at 2:00 p.m., only 5 hours before the party. I also bought some plastic farm animals. Everything else (the how we got our food, who was there, and how I obtained the courage to ask her) was in the hand of God. I will forever be grateful to Him for all that He has done for me and for the forgiveness he has given me in the face of my sins, wickedness and evil.
We got to the restaurant. In attendance were the following: My parents, Norma's parents, Norma's sister (Tommie Ann) Norma's Sister's Husband (Steven DeLeon), their daughter (Emily), Joe David Soliz, our friends Jessie and Patsy Rios, Norma's little sister (Angel), Angel's boyfriend Michael Peralez, Angel's friend Melissa, Norma's other sister Crystal, Crystal's boyfriend Alex and my brother Anthony R. Carrales. We sat in a PDR, Private Dinning Room, and ate. I keep asking Norma for my presents, chiefly because I planned to ask the big question after that. She kept telling me to wait. This took a toll on my digestive system; I began to feel the effects of nervousness. I played in front of 60,000 people at the Astrodome, but I had never been more nervous. I received my cake in the usual restaurant manner and blew out the candles.
I again asked if it was time for the gifts, I was again told to wait. Everyone had a piece. Finally it was time for the gifts. I got them, everyone a new tie. After the crowd calmed down, I made my move.
I got up from my chair and began to thank everyone for coming and making the day special. I then walked over to a bag that I had Tommie Ann hide before things had started. I then said, "I'm going to break tradition a little and give some gifts myself." I walked over to Norma's father and sat in the chair closest to him. "Sir," I went on, "I don't know if you remember. But back...a few months ago...you told me that you wanted two cows and two horses for Norma." I then pulled them out of the bag that I had hidden. "Well, here are the two horses and here are the two cows. I would like to ask for Norma's hand in marriage." He paused a while, gave off a serious face and spoke. "Is that all you want, just the hand?" The crowd laughed. "Well," said I, "I'll work on the rest."
I then turned to Norma and began, "Norma, I would..." Before I could even properly start she asked, "Did he say yes?" I stopped, stuttered and, upon seeing him confirm the affirmative, began again. "Norma, I would like it very much if you would be my wife." She the said yes, making me the happiest man in the recorded history.