© 2019 by Frank Rojas | Email: behindlosojos@gmail.com

stephen


"I'm Caucasian and there's not many of us in the Male Success Alliance, even though we're open to any male or female regardless of skin color or religion.

 

I remember when I was 5, my mom was dating an African American, whom I thought was my father because I didn't understand the concept of skin tone back in the day. I just assumed that I've never seen my dad, and this guy is kinda like a dad figure. 

When I was growing up I went to a mostly white elementary and middle school. I don't know why, but I just never felt welcomed by them. But when I moved from Cypress to Costa Mesa, my high school was mostly Hispanic and Latino. I love the culture, how family-oriented it is. Most of my friends are Mexican, and I am inspired by how big their families are. While on my side of the family it was just myself and my mom for a bit. 

Then senior year, she became more of an alcoholic. I had to call the cops on her, because when she would drink, she'd get really depressed. I guess her loneliness from being a single parent hindered her happiness. She would get very suicidal and run out into the street.

 

Once she was five feet away from a main street. She was on the curve stepping back and forth, waving at cars. I had to grab her and dial 9-1-1 and block myself in front of the door. 

She lost her ability to be a mother, and it's almost like our roles flipped, where I became the parent and she became the child. She lost her job, and I had to monitor what she was doing. My mom moved to Arizona with my sister, and I stayed and moved in with my aunt. I lost a lot of our stuff from a garage sale and had to say goodbye to my cat. Simba was low key, my son. 

My mom would always tell me that he had my personality. I loved that cat, so when my aunt said I couldn't keep him, I made sure I found a place that wouldn't euthanize him regardless of how long he stayed. By far he was the hardest thing I had to say goodbye to. He was the best birthday gift my mom got me.

I started a job at Stater Bros., but didn't have a car. I took a two-hour bus ride from Cypress to Costa Mesa. A family friend who knew my mom before I was born offered for me to stay at their home in Costa Mesa. They eventually adopted me, basically.

Then in August 2012, my brother-in-law called and said that my mom was hit by a car. Miraculously, she survived. She shattered both her shins, cracked open her skull, and needed to be airlifted from Laughlin to Las Vegas. Then, we brought her back from Arizona to Cypress. We looked for Alcoholics Anonymous houses and programs for her, but she didn't want to do it. 

 

That's the thing about alcoholics, they need to help themselves before you can help them. Alcohol is that substance that's available everywhere. It's easy to grab, easy to get a hold of. It gets a hold of you. She was in and out of hospitals and developed ulcers. There were days I knew she wouldn't eat, she would just drink. 

 

Then on April 24th, my sister's birthday, the fire department called my aunt and told her that my mom was dead. After they cleared her body, my sister and I picked up some of her valuables from her motel. I had to be tough for my sister, but we should have never done that. I hope no one has to go through that. 

 

But now I'm here at Dominguez about to graduate. I still carry her maiden name and continue our legacy. A piece of my heart died that day. It hurts and aches knowing she won't be there for my wedding. 

 

Once I transferred to Dominguez, I was lucky enough to dorm with Marlin. He was the president of the Male Success Alliance at the time. I always hear the statistics for men of color. I feel that any human being should be compelled to help another. Man, woman, regardless of race or religion. That's what I like the most about Dominguez, it's so diverse.

 

When we say, 'I am my brother’s keeper,' we don't have ulterior motives. We are one mission, one team." 

i still carry her maiden name and continue our legacy.