FAMILY

(Mi Familia)

From left: My mother, Joey, and myself

MAMÁ AND BEBÉ:

Mamá and Bebé are my nicknames for the those two characters pictured above who also happen to be the most important people in my life right now.

MAMÁ:

The young lady on the left is my mother, Annie Lopez. She is, undoubtedly, the single most important force in my life. We were on our own between my parents divorce and the time she met Joe Cruz, and she shined as a mother. She has always been, and continues to be the one constant. She is smart, funny, caring, powerful, compassionate and unbreakable and I am thankful for having her as my mother. Everyone else is missing out. To this day, despite having lived in Florida for seven years, she is still "mamá", the spanish word for mother.

BEBÉ

This young man's name is Joey Cruz. He's my 9-year-old brother (can you see the resemblance? me neither). Actually, we're half brothers (same mother, different fathers) He is the wonderful result of my mom's union with Joe Cruz, my stepdad. However, Joey has never, EVER, been merely "half-brother". In fact, I consider myself more of a father figure to Joey. I've been extremely involved in his upbringing since day one, from all the diaper changes and bottle feedings to helping him to his homework and dribble a basketball with his left hand. In return, I've had the pleasure of watching him grow into a wonderful little boy with limitless potential. Still, to me, he'll always be "bebé", (spanish word for baby) my nickname for him.

Clockwise from top left: Joey at the Hamptons, myself in San Juan, Puerto Rico, my mom in Tampa

THE REST OF THE BEST

While, my mother and brother may be the two most important people in my life, there are others I must mention who have loved me and supported me all my life.

As I mentioned before, my father John Ceballos, continues to be a wondeful influence in my life, despite my parents divorce. He now lives in Minnesota and I visit him every summer and talk to him at least once a week.

My stepfather, Joe Cruz, has been the dominant male force in my family for over ten years now. He is a fantastic provider and father and I would not be where I am without him.

Finally, I have to mention my grandmother Inez Eleutiza who has also been there the whole time, lending a helping hand every chance she possibly could (especially when my mom and I were on our own). She is 85 years old today and continues to have as much life in her as ever. I am fortunate to still have a great relationship with my grandmother and I love her with all my heart (despite what our arguments might indicate).

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