Column: Inspired by a stranger

‘I was afraid of letting a new person into our lives as it felt like a completely new concept.’


Courtesy of Jose Benito Espindola Cordoba.

At the age of 9, my view on life quickly changed. I always thought it was perfect and conflict free like any young child would. However, I soon learned life is not always easy. I now realize people have to overcome treacherous obstacles that come with difficulties.

During those difficult years, my mother was a single mom and we were financially unstable. The loud yells of moms and the sounds of babies crying in the shelter we were in overpowered my thoughts. I believed things would never get better.

About five years later, my family and I were out at the mall shopping a week before Christmas. The scent of Bath and Body Works candles filled the mall. Suddenly, I remember hearing my mother say “I want you to meet someone.” I was confused as to who it might be. My mom then proceeded to tell me she wanted me to meet a guy she met at her old job. My mother guides me to a 6-foot-tall man who looks surprisingly young but also intimidating. I met with him, but I was still unsure of how to react.

I knew the reason I was meeting the guy was because my mom had developed feelings for someone after all these years. I was afraid and hesitant of letting a new person into our lives; this whole family dynamic was a new concept to me. Unsure and afraid, I slowly accepted the idea. Things between my mother and him started getting more serious as I noticed my mom had been going out every weekend with the guy. Just a few months later, there was an addition to the family, Tomas: My stepdad.

My stepdad, Tomas Espindola, is a man who deserves the best because of his hard work and rough past. He’s also the man who happens to be my biggest hero. No matter how bad his life situations were he never gave up. He made me realize my life problems compared to others are insignificant in this great big world. I mean for goodness sake, there are people my age who are working just to put food on their plates.

The more I talked to him, the closer we got. I had never before perceived such a strong relationship with anyone in such a short period of time. He often discussed his rough upbringing and past that consisted of being abused by his mother and losing his father.

In his youth he was kicked out of the house and forced to live on the streets alone. He was only let back in if he had money to provide for food because there wasn’t any to put on the table for his family.

When he was only 9, he got his first job cutting and shaping rocks. At age 15, he progressed to making clothes for artists where he earned just enough money to be let back into the house. Once he was back, he provided for his family and even threw a quincenera for one of his sisters.

He migrated to the United States of America at age 32, which is when he met my mother. He’s the best thing that has ever happened to us.

He’s helped my family get out of debt and he’s provided more than enough for us whether it be clothes, food or money. My mother was in a bad place before she met him. She would be in bed most of the time as she was emotionally drained. He’d comfort her and they’d spend long nights having conversations.

Even though things got better, I never knew to what extent problems could get to. That’s the thing though, there is no extent. My stepdad made me realize hard work pays off, and I had no idea I was taking life for granted. He is living proof that no matter how messed up your current life is, everything gets better.