There are angels who live amongst us. I have been fortunate enough to not only get to know a few but also to number them among my friends. One of the loveliest of them all is Adriana Stovall.
Life has a way of giving us what we need when we need it. I was working at Revere Middle School and both my boss, David Kendler, and his secretary, Eloisa Diosdado, moved to Sharpstown High School. They wanted me to go with them but I had an inner feeling that I needed to stay where I was. I was so sad to see my good friends leave. David had been instrumental in changing the course of my career. To say that I felt forever grateful to him is an understatement. Furthermore, Eloisa and I had been good friends for many years. We even rode to school together and I had taught both of her children. I knew that I would miss them terribly and I was so afraid of who might take their places. I needn’t have worried! The new principal, Ken Estrella, would become like a brother to me and his secretary, Adriana, would become a very special lifelong friend.
Rumors were running wild around the school about the new crew that was coming. Someone who already knew Adriana told me that she was one of the most beautiful people he had ever known. When I first saw her I realized that he had not exaggerated. Adriana is indeed as gorgeous as a movie star or super model. At first I have to admit to feeling a bit intimidated around her but my fears were soon enough set aside. Adriana was friendly, helpful, supportive, and most of all loyal and encouraging. It was a joy to work with her.
My mother was never far from my thoughts. Even in her good moments I worried about her. When she was really sick it was difficult to concentrate on work. I had always needed to have someone in whom I might confide but had never felt completely comfortable talking about her and her troubles. Suddenly I found that Adriana was the person whom I had been seeking. She allowed me to vent, to worry, to cry, and even to laugh about my mom’s ups and downs and she never judged the way some sometimes did. She often provided me with comfort and wisdom that helped me to make the right decisions regarding Mama’s care. It was so wonderful to finally know that I had not just an ally but someone who seemed to completely understand how difficult it sometimes was to be a caretaker and a school administrator. Adriana kept me focused and on my game. I always knew that she was someone whom I might trust to keep my confidence.
Eventually Ken and I moved to the KIPP Charter Schools. I missed Adriana so very much. I often felt that I was among strangers in my new school. My best friend, Pat, was dying and I realized that if Adriana had been there I would have been able to unburden my heart to her. As it was, I simply had to deal with all of my troubles on my own and I felt incredibly lonely. Luckily Ken eventually became the school leader and he convinced Adriana to join on our educational journey. I was ecstatic to learn that she was once again to be only a few feet from my office. Her return to my everyday work world was a joyous occasion. As usual she kept me grounded and encouraged me when times were rough.
Our friendship grew. I no longer thought of her as just a workmate. She was someone who understood my heart. When I retired I was certain that our relationship had only just begun and I was right. Adriana made sure that we would only become closer. She arranged dinners, meetings, and parties designed to keep in touch. When my mother died Adriana was right there for me. Not only did she send me a beautiful plant that thrives to this very day but she gave me the one message that I most needed to hear. I had worried that perhaps I had not been aggressive enough in caring for Mama and that if I had been she might have lived. It was Adriana who so sweetly reminded me that she had seen me worrying about and loving my mother every single day for many years. I so appreciated hearing that. Adriana helped me to set aside any feelings of guilt that I was harboring. I will always love her for that.
Adriana is my own special angel on earth but I am not the only one who benefits from her presence. She is a caretaker at heart and she spreads sunshine wherever she goes. She has not always had an easy life but she always manages to be optimistic. She doesn’t believe in fretting. Instead she visualizes what she wants to happen and then she gets to work making her dreams real. She spreads the bounty of her amazing life to her family and her friends. I have been the recipient of her generosity again and again. Each time that I have had surgery she has sent flowers. When she hears that I am sick she does something nice for me. She brightens my life in the most unexpected ways.
Adriana loves the Houston rodeo, especially the barbecue cook off. Her family has been competing since the contest’s inception. Each year she dons her cowgirl gear and has a rip roaring good time. She always remembers to invite her friends to savor the luscious smoked meats that her family prepares and to enjoy the big Texas party. Mike and I have been able to participate in the festivities with her year after year. She is a hostess extraordinaire and those of us who are lucky enough to be part of her huge circle of love count our blessings.
Adriana celebrated a significant birthday this week. We women don’t divulge our ages but let me just say that she appears to be decades younger than she is. Her beauty is far deeper than her skin. She is one of those gorgeous people whose heart is even more lovely than her appearance. She has been an angel to me and to her husband, children, mother, aunts, uncles, coworkers, neighbors and so many students. It’s difficult to imagine one individual spreading as much joy as Adriana Stovall has.
I feel certain that Adriana and I have many more happy times together and for that I am so fortunate. For now I only hope that she will feel her love being reciprocated from all of us. Angels are lovely. They show themselves to be present in a special few like Adriana. We are all the better for that.
Happy Birthday, Adriana. Happy Year!