In My Opinion

Things Law Enforcement Officers Shouldn’t Do on Social Media

In today’s world of screenshots, text messaging, 24 hour news cycles, and strained relationships between the public and Law Enforcement, it blows my mind when I see the lack of common sense when it comes to what LEOs post on Social Media. Put aside the fact that there are groups of people watching and waiting for you to mess up, when anyone within the Law Enforcement community places irresponsible statements on Facebook, Twitter, blogposts, Instagram, or any other form of Social Media, we are simply feeding the fire of hostility and danger that constantly lurks at our door. There are some basic Social Media rules of etiquette that we should all go by, but, like it or not, there are some extra guidelines for Law Enforcement Officers and their families.

Whenever two people come together and their behavior affects one another, you have etiquette. -Emily Post

Most of the below is common sense, but is worth repeating. Also, while I am specifically speaking to our Blue Line family, these rules work for anyone who uses Social Media. Remember, EVERYTHING online is Public and PERMANENT. Even Snapchat.

  • Unless you are Bon Jovi, Taylor Swift, or Kim Kardashian, your Facebook, Twitter, InstaGram and ALL OTHER SOCIAL MEDIA (even MySpace-although the fact that I felt the need to even include MySpace is horrifying) should be private/locked. 

This is not just for your safety, but for the safety of your family as well. We live in a fishbowl as LEOs and LEO families. People are watching us, both friend and foe. Only accept friend requests from people you  know. Post pictures from vacation AFTER you return home. Again, all of this is common sense, but so important to the wellbeing and safety of ourselves and those we love.

  • Don’t post pictures of/talk about doing you doing what you could potentially arrest someone else for. 

This is mainly for the LEOs. No alcohol or talking about being drunk. Don’t boast about speeding, violence, etc. A) It’s not funny. B) You are presenting an image of someone who is a Public Servant. As Law Enforcement Officers, whether you or your family likes it or not, there is no such thing as “off-duty” in the eyes of those we serve. You are a defender and protector. You are a peacemaker. And your friends, neighbors, and people from your Tuesday lunch spot know it. As such, we don’t get the luxury being “off-duty.” Yes, we are human beings and everyone has a bad day, but be cognizant of who you are talking to, what you are saying, and what you are doing.

  • Don’t make negative or derogatory comments about anyone or anything related to work. 

Sorry. You don’t get to rant about your bad day or your co-worker or boss. No one should be doing that on Social Media sites, but Law Enforcement Officers specifically don’t get to make this mistake. Why? Because the “boss” isn’t just your immediate supervisor, your Chief, the Sheriff or Marshall. It’s the taxpayer you pulled over at lunch, it’s the thief you caught at 2AM and will testify against next month, and it’s the citizens you met this morning when you answered a Domestic Violence call at their home. In addition, have you read your department’s policy on social media? Do you know what you can and cannot lose time, or even worse, your job over? A Boston police officer was disciplined this summer over a post he made on Father’s Day. “Farther’s (sic) Day, the most confusing day in Roxbury.” If you read this blog at all, you know I am the Head Cheerleader for Team Law Enforcement, but not only does this LEO sound ignorant with his spelling error, but his comment is racist and lacks compassion and empathy. This is just one example of the fact that people are watching, and one irresponsible post can cost you your reputation and career.

  • Keep your personal life, personal. 

I am not talking about your kid’s 1st birthday party, or the cruise you and your spouse took last month, or even the post about the outrageous amount of money you just spent at Publix because your highschooler is literally eating you out of house and home. I am talking about your divorce proceedings, anything negative about your siblings, parents, kids, best friend, and arch-enemy. I am talking about the fact that anything you say, can and will be used against you in a court of law, a personnel review board hearing and the court of Public Opinion. Here’s the thing, nobody needs to know the truly private parts of your life and if you are honest with yourself, do you really want them to know? I know that breakups are hard, divorce is devastating, and kids are stupid, but at the end of the day (and your day in court) is what you just posted on Facebook something you are going to regret?

  • Keep your “rants” PoPo appropriate. 

I know, that red light is super long, and gas is through the roof expensive, and milk just went up again, and that football game was excruciatingly painful. But you do not get to smart off with comments that are unfitting for those who wear the badge. I know, sometimes I just want to “punch someone in the throat” too. But you arrest people for that kind of violence. Even in jest, you don’t get to talk like that or worse. Wishing ill OF ANY KIND onto someone else via social media, even if it is a joke, isn’t appropriate. Drunk driving is not funny. Death by drunk driving is even less humorous. Killing people is not funny. Hiring people to kill other people is not funny. Because it is real. And because everything can be misconstrued on Social Media. I get it, my husband’s humor is, at times, dark and raw. Super dark and super raw. And when he is with our LEO friends, it can get even darker and more raw. We have to laugh to maintain our sanity. But that is in the privacy of a dinner table with friends or in our home. Not on Facebook for someone we kinda know, but not really know to see and screenshot and share with 30 other people. This is the kind of thing that makes the news, that makes Law Enforcement look bad, and that fans that flame of distrust and ill will towards the Law Enforcement Community. I don’t care if you have been a part of the PoPo Nation for a year or a decade, these comments are not ok.

I say all of this because I care. Because as vigilant as we are in our everyday life when we are leaving our homes, with our kids, and in parking lots at night, sometimes it seems like we let our guard down completely when it comes to social media. You sit facing the door in restaurants, but when it comes to social media, you might as well be sitting with your back to the door and no back up weapon because you truly have no idea who is coming and going, even with strict security. Reputation can be as important as training. Officer Presence is a real thing. And even within our own circles, that presence and reputation are important. As an LEO wife, I want to know that the men and women serving alongside my husband can be trusted on the job. You character is a huge part of that. As taxpayers and “the Boss”, the citizens in your community want to know that you are above reproach and worthy to be a Peace Officer. Do yourself and those around you a favor and think before you post. You never know who is watching.


P.S. has a great article about this subject as well that I suggest you read.

When the Nightmares Become Yours and Not His.

At approximately 4:43AM, I woke up in a sweat from the sound of a “gunshot.” I think a branch just hit our tin roof, but in that moment, in my nightmare, Randy and I were being shot at while we ate breakfast at one of our favorite local spots. In my nightmare, I begged him to not stand up when we saw the bad guys coming because they might see his badge and just start shooting. And in my nightmare, that is exactly what happened.

Randy had already left for the gym this morning when I woke up. I called him to make sure he had locked the front door. And he reminded me where his gun was and gave me a quick safety schpill. Y’all, I literally crawled out of bed and snuck down the hall (no gun in hand) to check the door. And I closed the blinds and did not go back to sleep.

I am used to the restless nights of restless sleep. But they happen on the other side of the bed. I am used to hearing about the “shoot em’ up” dreams, not telling them. I am used to this life of not sitting where I can see the door so that he can, of having an exit plan, of always being ready. I am used to this way of life because it is what HE needs. Not me.

11 Line of Duty Deaths in 8 days. The latest death happening not an hour and a half away from home, a 24 year old officer, married 4 months ago, responds with his partner to a suicide call that turned into an ambush. Two officers were ambushed in their barracks last week, one succumbing to his wounds.

And I am sitting here wondering what brought this nightmare on? I am wondering why my brain is on obvious high alert? We are living in a war zone, people. WAKE UP. We are living in a world where we have stopped paying attention to the news. We are ambivalent to what is happening to our neighbors, our countrymen, our heroes.

I quoted the Line of Duty Death stats to a friend yesterday and his response was “It’s scary that you know those numbers.” It’s scary that you DON’T know them. It’s scary that we are living in a day and time that we only pay attention when the crime occurs close to home. It’s scary that these Line of Duty Deaths are becoming common place and passé in our news cycle, IF they even make the news cycle.

Paul tells us in 2 Timothy 1:7 that “God did not give us a spirit of fear. He gave us a spirit of power, and of love, and of a good mind.” I send my LEO out the door every morning, clinging to the promises of my sweet heavenly Father, knowing that He gave me a good mind, that He does not give fear to me, that He is faithful. I pray every morning that God will put a hedge of protection around Randy and every LEO as they serve as peacemakers, as guardians and protectors.

And yet, the nightmares don’t just belong to my LEO. The reality of this job, is that we are taking on this burden as a family. Randy isn’t the only one who feels the depth of the grief when one of our Blue Family lays down his or her life in service to their community. My heart aches for the spouses who have lost their partner, for the children who have lost their hero, for the parents who are burying their child.

So, while the grief runs deep, I am challenging myself to not allow the fear to run anywhere but away from me. The battlefield is at our front door. And our LEOs answer the call every single day. As do our kids. As do we. Yes, the reality of this life is heavy and scary. It can be overwhelming. It takes a toll on each member of our family, both blood and blue. And whether we dwell on it consciously or subconsciously, the fear can creep in when we least expect it. Don’t live with that fear. And don’t try to handle it alone.

For all the hardships that come with the LEO lifestyle, the “normal” that only we understand, the most beautiful part to me is the family we gain. Learn to lean on each other. Learn to share your fear, while accepting the reassurances and love that comes your way when you do. Because in the sharing and the accepting, there is peace and in the peace we find a Savior who did not give us a spirit of fear, but of love, power, and sound mind.

And Justice for All?

Let me go ahead and tell you what you won’t read in the paragraphs below. You won’t read that I believe there should not be due process and a continued investigation into the shooting of Michael Brown. If Officer Wilson is guilty of a crime, then by all means, let the Justice System do what it does best. You won’t read that I am not saddened by the loss of life in any way, of any kind, and especially a young person. You won’t read that my perspective of Law Enforcement has changed. My husband and so many of our friends put their lives on the line every single day without hesitation in protection and service to our communities across America.

Now let me tell you what you will read. You will read that my heart aches for the youth of America. All youth, of all nationalities, of all races, and all colors. You will read that my level of anxiety and fear for my LEO husband and all of our LEO friends is at an all time high. And you will read that I am disgusted by the lies and pot stirring that is being done by the media and other less than well meaning bloggers, activists, and 15-minute-of-famers who are subjecting us all to their own versions of what they think happened, or their own guilty conscious for being whatever race they are other than black, or worse still, crucifying the Law Enforcement Community in the midst of an ONGOING INVESTIGATION in which we STILL DO NOT HAVE ALL THE FACTS.

For two weeks the only person I have subjected to my indignant outbursts and frustrations of what is happening in Ferguson, MO., is my LEO husband. But I can’t hold it back anymore. I am SICK of the hypocrisy and truth spinning. I am past growing weary of the blame game and the guilt trips. And I am outraged by the lack of common sense that seems to have overcome our nation.

“Stop the Violence” has been the mantra these past two weeks. Yes, for the love of all that is holy and good, let’s stop the violence. We have police officers and their families living in safe houses outside of Ferguson because of this “righteous anger” as one blogger put it. SAFE HOUSES. There are windows being broken and innocent business owners being stolen from because of this “justified rebellion.” Children are having to wait to start school because of the violence that we are supposedly attempting to stop. Buildings IN FERGSON are being burned to the ground by RESEIDENTS OF FERGUSON in protest of the shooting two weeks ago. What in the world?

We can make this an issue of racism. Media outlets can attempt to create Officer Darren Wilson into whatever monster they deem him to be all the live long day. We can make this about the supposed lack of transparency from the Ferguson Police Department as they continue to investigate the incident. As broken, fallen humans, we can make this about whatever fits our cause or position today.

But what we should all be doing is making this about the truth. About honesty. About calling a spade a spade. Retired General and former Florida Congressman Allen West may have said it best, “Folks, truth is not an assault on someone’s character.”

I could fall into an incredibly biased rant at this point and I am struggling not to. I can admit that. I can admit that I fear the moments my officer and our Blue Line family members hit the door to go out to protect our community. Tensions are high all over this country, there is no denying it.

Here is what I will say, as parents, we have to fight harder for our children. We are parents. Not friends. Parents. We should know where our children are and what they are doing and who they are with. We should be teaching lessons of respect for others, self-respect, work ethic, integrity, and character. These are not always easy lessons for children or parents. But we are failing our kids and leading them down a road of destruction and death if we do not fight harder to teach them the basic life lessons that will keep them safe and ALIVE. I am not talking about defense against the big, bad, police. I am talking about the character lessons that will keep them from ever coming in contact with Law Enforcement outside of a speeding ticket.

Let’s train up our children in the way that they should go so that when they are old they will not depart from those ways. Let’s train up our boys to be men. Let’s teach our girls how to be women who inspire greatness. Let’s teach our children love and respect. Not just for each other, not just of race and gender, but for authority. Let’s create a generation of young people who are honest, hard workers, and virtuous. Let’s raise children who strive for excellence and want more themselves. Let’s encourage our children to do good, to love mercy and justice. Real justice. Not this modern day “justice” that is merely a mask for revenge and hate.

Our kids don’t have to be the shooters. And they don’t have to be the victims. If we, as parents, are doing our job in raising these kids, our society has a chance to correct the path we are currently traveling down.

I don’t know all the circumstances surrounding Mike Brown’s death. But I don’t believe Officer Wilson and the Law Enforcement Community at large should be demonized for doing their job.

Inspiring hatred of anyone or any group of people is wrong and will only lead to more tragedy. Any loss of life is tragic. And what we as a country have turned this incident into is also tragic.

The Blue Line Battlefield

It always starts out as a normal day. You are always “just” doing something; gassing up, eating lunch, routine traffic stops, picking the kids up from school, rushing from meeting to meeting, fixing dinner, etc. The calls just come. The knock on the door just happens. There is rarely any warning. And there is nothing that can prepare you.

But “it” happens.

Line of Duty deaths are up 15% this year. Gunfire deaths are up 31%. My friend, Mel, said it best last night, “It’s a war zone out there.” It is. It’s a war zone.

There are self-proclaimed “revolutionaries”  out there. There are people who hate law enforcement out there. And “out there” is at our front doors. “Out there” is in our face. They are living in our communities. They are our neighbors. They are people we see in the grocery store. And our officers are their targets.

And yet the Blue Line Family keeps moving. Our officers keep going out on their shifts and they keep doing their job. And sometimes they come home and sometimes they don’t. But as spouses, we still have to go to work and take the kids to school and feed them and keep moving. We have to watch our kids graduate from highschool without their other parent. And while hundreds of members of our Blue Line Family come in support and sit with us and cheer and hold us, it’s not the same.

In a matter of a week, the United States lost 4 officers. 3 of those were murdered in cold blood. Because they were doing their jobs. Because they wore the badge. And there are wives and children who are waking up to a new “normal” today.

You may not be a murderer. You may not be a thief. You may not drive drunk or even speed. You may be a fine, upstanding citizen. But if you are someone who badmouths those who wear the badge or if you are someone who takes a passive stance on our Law Enforcement Community, you are contributing to the demise of our heroes.

In this “war zone” we are living in today, there is no room for anything but support and encouragement of our Law Enforcement Officers. There is no room for dissention. There is no room for bad mouthing. There is no room for politics. There is no room and there is no time for sitting back or passive outlooks.

The time for action has flown by us. We are in a war zone.

Now is the time as citizens, as members of the Blue Line Family to be proactive. Now is the time to make sure that we are watching out for each other. Now is the time to make sure that those who control budgets and legislative decisions have the best interest of those who wear the badge. Now is the time to address mental illness and treatments. Now is the time to stand up and with our Law Enforcement Community.

Law Enforcement Officers are not a special interest group. They are the men and women who choose to defend and protect. They are the ones that stand between the monsters and the weak. They are the ones who stay awake while the rest of us go to sleep. And their families are the ones who keep the home front moving forward. They sacrifice and serve right along side their officer. They are not a special interest group. They are heroes.

This war zone is not going away. But we can help slow it down. Take an active stance. Support your Law Enforcement Community. Be proactive. Make sure that your community leaders are supporting them. Make sure that those who want to be your community leaders will support them.

And pray. Pray for those who won’t come home. Pray for the ones left behind. And pray for those who continue to wear the badge and those who send them out every shift, awaiting their return.

Police Week 2014 {It’s Personal}

Today marks the beginning of a bittersweet week. All around the country, Law Enforcement Agencies will honor those who have given the Ultimate Sacrifice, laying down their lives for their brothers and sisters who wear the badge and the communities they serve. In Columbus we will hold our own service on Thursday evening and welcome all to attend as we remember those in our area who have died in the line of duty in 2013.

One of mine and Randy’s dear friends is on the list of Line of Duty deaths and reading Keith’s name on Thursday night will be one of the toughest things I have ever done. But while we lose over 100 officers to line of duty deaths nationally every year, we lose even more to suicide. There are many factors, as with any suicide, but shift work, the culture within Law Enforcement, personal issues, legal issues (both personal and professional), and yes, the pressures placed on officers by our society and culture, all play a part in Law Enforcement suicide. We have experienced that in Columbus, in our own Law Enforcement family. It is a tragic reality of The Job. And just as with suicide in any other circumstance, we are faced with questions that will never be answered, guilt, and sorrow that runs deep.

As a Law Enforcement family and supporters, what can we do to help? How can we help lower the number of line of duty deaths and suicides?

  • MOVE OVER, PEOPLE! When you see an officer on the side of the road, slow down and move over.
  • Take time to thank your law enforcement officers when you see them. Whether it’s in a restaurant and you actually say “thank you for what you do” or it’s at a stoplight and you give a friendly smile and wave, be kind. It makes a difference.
  • If you know a LEO, are related to a LEO, have an acquaintance that is an LEO, lift them up. Lend an ear. Support their spouses and children. Be there. Offer to pick the kids up one day. Babysit on a night the LEO is off so that they can go on a date. Cut their grass. Be a friend.

Police Week is more than the memorial service, although that is a huge and incredibly important part. It’s more than the tragedies that we have experienced as the Law Enforcement Community. This week is also about appreciating what these men and women do. It’s about showing support. And when I say support, it’s more than a blue ribbon on your car or lapel, even though they love seeing that. It’s more than a wreath, even though it’s beautiful and again, means a lot to see. It’s more than a Facebook banner picture and it’s more than a tweet, although ALL of those things are awesome.

Police Week is personal. Shake a hand. Buy a meal. Smile. Say thank you. There may be officers in your community hurting. There may be officers grieving the loss of a fellow LEO. Be kind. Show your gratitude. As a LEO wife, I can tell you, it turns their day around. It means something to them.

Remember, you sleep peacefully at night because these men and women stand ready to do violence on  your behalf. They leave home every day, not knowing if they will return. And, as we look to the Memorial Services across the nation this week, we know that some of them give their lives to their last breath in defense of their own community. That is something to be thankful for and proud of.

Budgets, Badges, and Votes

I need to admit something. I am not your “normal” Law Enforcement spouse. I haven’t spent years with my husband being on patrol or morning watch. I haven’t been with him while he worked the Metro Narcotics Task Force. And I haven’t come home to black eyes and broken bones on a husband who had just worked a shift at the jail.

However, in our time together, I have waited hours without knowing if my husband was actually ok. I have waited through man-hunts and hostage situations. I have learned after the fact that my husband wasn’t responding to a text because he was breaking up courtroom brawls. I have watched him carry extra ammo on his belt because there are extra tensions and hatred towards Law Enforcement Professionals on any given day. And I have sat with him at our kitchen table and worked our way through our budget for the year, month, and sometimes, week.

It is for these latter reasons that I am proud to be the wife of an LEO. And I am ashamed of those who don’t understand, refuse to try to understand, and worse still, pretend that they know what it is like to wait for the door to open, breathing that sigh of relief that he simply made it home.

With budgets shrinking and the cost of living growing, it is shameful that when we look at what has to go, we even consider putting Public Safety on that list. At the heart of every successful community, the safety of it’s citizens is always at the top. Why? Because when you feel safe, when you feel that your children are safe, you are more likely to stay. You are more likely to brag on your community. You are more apt to respect, support and trust those who claim to have your best interest at heart.

As a wife who knows the struggles, not only emotionally, but financially of being with someone who’s calling is protecting his community, I am infuriated by those who condescendingly reproach those who do not agree with their “management style” and I am disgusted by those who have never walked in my shoes or those of husband and yet claim to know better than we do about our salaries, raises and healthcare, or lack thereof.

No, I don’t have a business degree or a law degree. But my husband and I are well equipped, both mentally and educationally, to know what is best for our family, and how our government should work and how it actually works.

Being told by those elected to lead our community that we are too emotionally invested and that we don’t understand how government, both past and present, work is insulting, not only to our intellect, but to our families as a whole. Being asked if we really know what we are talking about as if they know the inner-workings of our household budget and have spent long hours in quiet anxiety waiting for their loved ones to walk through the door or simply send a text message is degrading and shows a sheer lack of genuine compassion and respect. 

It’s not just our spouses who choose to serve our community, it is our families as well. Whether it’s the LEO picking up extra jobs or the spouse, we are in it together when it comes to providing for our family’s needs, with or without the help of those who stood in front of a microphone and promised to stand with us. And whether it’s the LEO on the street working to prevent and solve crime or the LEO spouse waiting at home, both are committed to a life of protecting their neighbors whether it’s wearing the badge or supporting the one wearing badge.

It’s time that Law Enforcement Officers, their families, and those who are simply aware that they sleep peacefully in their beds at night while brave men and women keep watch, choose leaders who are committed to supporting our Law Enforcement agencies and those who serve in them. Whether they are running for City Council or Mayor, support those who support you. Those who are committed to Public Safety. Those who realize that until our community is safe, we will never be able to keep our young professionals, our parents with children, and attract the economic development opportunities that our community is so deserving of.

Here’s to the Women

Today at the Georgia Capitol in Atlanta, we celebrated Women’s Suffrage Day as a part of Women’s History month. In a photo op on the stairs, women from all walks of life wore yellow roses and stood for a photo op to commemorate the occasion. It’s been 94 years since women won the right to vote and as a woman who loves the world of politics and all the craziness it brings, I am so grateful for those women and the gift they passed down. I believe it is so important for us, as women, to realize the hard work that went into our right to vote and to honor the women who gave us our collective voice.

So, here’s to women who patiently worked for the place in American culture that women now have. Here’s to the women who have worked. Period. At home, at the office, as leaders, as followers, in the spotlight and in the back ground. Here’s to the women who have been advocates, who have needed advocates, who have organized and gathered.

Here’s to the women who have started businesses, led non-profits, run for elected office, and helped to build up their local communities. Here’s to the women who have refused to allow themselves to be used by those with impure agendas. Here’s to the women who have stood up for themselves and realized when others are taking advantage. Here’s to the women who have worked to educate themselves in schools of higher education, in the workplace, and in the world we live in.

Here’s to the women who lead with grace, who work well with others, and who fight with that little extra pep in their step. Here’s to the women who know how to get what they want without being a bully, without hurting others, and without forsaking the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.

Here’s to the women who love other women, realizing that it’s when we are working together that we carry out what needs to be done. Here’s to the women who can leave work at work, nourishing friendships and grabbing that glass of wine after a hard day.

Here’s to the women who don’t take it personally. Here’s to the women who come to the table with ideas, solutions, and answers, willing to “fail with pride”, able to take the criticism and use it to better (or scratch altogether) the idea at hand.

Here’s to the women who work to bring people together, give credit where it is due, and work for the greater good and not personal gain. Here’s to the women who appreciate smart people, people smarter than themselves, people whom they can learn from.

Here’s to the women who seized the day, saw the bigger picture, and refused to sit back and let the status quo remain. Here’s to the women who used their voices, and fought for girls and women for generations to come so that we all might have a seat at the table.

Ladies, let’s always be mindful of these women and of the sacrifices that they made almost 100 years ago. As we go about our lives, no matter what our occupation or job might be, let’s always strive to be women that our fore-mothers would be proud of today. Not cunning or vengeful, but smart and pro-active. Not a bully or hateful, but persuasive and kind. Not deceitful or condescending, but truthful and earnest.

Here’s to the Women.

Life, Death, and being a Garcia.

Death can bring out the best and the worst in people. It can draw out old stories, new stories, forgotten stories. It can help to put anger and bitterness away. It can bring remorse and regret. It can be peaceful or tragic. It can take your breath away or simply close a chapter.

In the last month, our family has lost two Garcia men. Such quick succession is hard to wrap your mind around and is piercing to your heart. And yet, as we reach the final leg of our 3 day round-trip to Louisville, Kentucky one week after a 3 day round-trip to Port Arthur, Texas, I find myself sad and grieving, but content and proud and feeling incredibly loved.

My Uncle Ben was the first to leave us. A loner of a man, unlike the rest of his 6 brothers, my memories of him are sweet. Dinners around my dad’s parent’s table, throwing pecans at the stop sign at the end of the street, and naps snuggled in the crook of his arm are all thoughts that bring a smile to my face. His death closes a chapter of a life lived, seemingly, a lifetime ago. Almost as if he was the last link to my dad’s parents, even though there are three brothers still living. Uncle Ben was a constant to our visits to Texas, always at Grandma and Papaw’s for some length of time to say hello and give (and get) a hug. His life was celebrated last Saturday in Port Arthur, Texas.

Uncle Jess left us Wednesday afternoon. His loss is the kind that has left me and so many others, just gasping for breath at times. A smiling man with a generous and kind heart, he had what my dad calls “a sparkle” or as my sweet Grandmother of the heart said on Wednesday “The last of the most beautiful men to ever walk in Malakoff, Texas is gone.” It’s true, Uncle Jess was a striking man in appearance, but even more so, he made you feel as if you were the only person in the room. His ability to make you feel special, to let you know he cared, is one of the things I will miss the most.

My dad gave the Garcia family history at Uncle Jess’ memorial service yesterday. Dad doesn’t talk about his younger years much. I could feel myself and my siblings leaning forward a bit, hanging on to each word, as he told of his mother and dad, how they met, and the life they led together until his mother’s untimely death at the age of 43. He spoke of the work ethic of his dad, leaving Malakoff for Port Arthur to work for the Texaco Oil Refineries, something most would see as a desertion of one’s family, but for Papaw and Grandmother Manuela, he was simply providing for his rather large family of 9. Dad talked about how the oldest boy took over as head of the house after Grandmother Manuela died, leaving as they reached the age of the draft or of college, the next oldest picking up where the other left off. Dad and his brother, Edward, eventually went to live with the Surls family when Dad was in the 8th grade. Papaw did remarry when Dad was 14, when he met “Grandma” Theresa Solis Garcia for whom I am named.

Dad talked about work ethic instilled in him by his dad and brothers, namely Jess. And how Uncle Jess brought back to the younger boys the expectation of a college education, raising the bar so high that by the time Dad was college age, there was no doubt in his mind that he would be pursuing a higher education.

As we sat with cousins and my sweet Aunt Tootsie this weekend, listening to stories, telling our own, and holding onto one another for the short amount of time we had all together, it was difficult not to feel an overwhelming sense of pride in being a “Garcia.”

No, my dad is not perfect. Neither are his brothers. But the legacy they have given us as their off-spring is a rich one, a history full of hardworking men and women who loved and served their country, provided for their families, and have given generously to those who have crossed their paths. Perhaps being raised with little to nothing is what contributes to their generosity today. Or maybe it’s wanting more for others than for themselves. I’m not sure. What I do know is that if I can live up to just half of the example set before me, I’ll be doing pretty good.

We were able to spend some time at my Uncle Jess and Aunt Toot’s family home in Sellersburg, IN this weekend. Walking through the door, I was immediately hit with the familiar scent that is Uncle Jess and Aunt Toots. As my siblings and I lingered over old photos, art work, and sat in rooms so dear to our childhood and growing up experience, I had to remind myself over and over again that the best of what my Uncle and Aunt have left us is not material or tangible. Instead they have given us a beautiful example of a marriage that was 58 years strong, cousins to love and hold onto, a legacy of hard work and dedication that was evident on Saturday afternoon as co-workers and employees of my Uncle filled the funeral home, and stories to tell of sunny afternoons in the hammock, cool summer nights in the basement playing pool, fishing in the pond, family dinners in a crowded kitchen, and love. Lots and lots of love.

I am thankful that my parents were committed to me and my siblings having a relationship with the Garcias and that they gave us the opportunity to be influenced by our uncles and their families.

Yes, we are two less Garcia men as of this week, but we are full of history, love, and a legacy of strong-willed men (and women) who have come from very little, speaking little to no English, and have created a life for themselves and those they love.

{Real} Food in 2014

Back in October of last year, Randy and I made the decision to cut carbs and simple sugars out of our diet. Our main reasons being weight loss and general health. The first few weeks were pretty hard, mostly because there are some carbs that we both l-o-v-e. A lot.

But we have both seen (almost) immediate results. Randy lost 12 pounds like it was his job and I lost 10 like it was a moderate hobby. Men and their weight loss ability make me sick. Can I get an “amen”, ladies?

We aren’t huge sweets people. I mean, I love chocolate, but we don’t keep sweets in the house. Randy is addicted to popcorn like nobody’s business. And not the kinda-healthy-kind. The 2-buckets-at-the-movie-theater-before-the-movie-is-even-over kind.

Breakfast is pretty easy, just cut the toast (or tortillas). We eat a lot of eggs and meat. Most of the eggs we eat are from our own chickens. We don’t have “free-range” chickens, but we know what is going into their little bodies. We don’t eat pork (for non-religious, non-health reasons) so our meat mostly consists of chicken, beef, and turkey anything.  Read the rest of this entry »

Hello, Hello…

…I don’t know why you say ‘goodbye’, I say hello…

Oh, how I love beginnings. They are fresh and pure, untarnished by the past, an opportunity for a “do-over.” And that is how we treat January 1st of every year. It’s a new year, a new day, a chance for a fresh start.

But 2014 has a lot to live up to in the Robertson house. 2013 was good to our family.

  • Sarah Ann graduated from Georgia Tech!


  • We were able to spend a few days in one of our favorite places, Linville, North Carolina, for the Grandfather Mountain Highland Games. Cold and rain in July! What more could these two Scotland lovers want?



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