Written by Dale Buchanan
“Our stories and rituals make us who we are. If you want to get to know someone, listen to their stories. If you want to understand people, observe their rituals and the games they play.”
This quote appeared in Dr. Fiala’s regular Sunday morning Fresno Bee column. It captured my imagination and when Gayle and I sat down with Aurora on the same Sunday afternoon, these words were fresh on my mind. They served as a template for the interview. Aurora picked up my lead and the following is my interpretation of this young woman’s story.
“I guess I should begin my story at the beginning. I was born at Clovis Community Hospital. Mom and dad bought a two-bedroom brick home in the Palm and Shields neighborhood. Escrow closed and we moved in when I was four months old. I lived there until I was twenty-one.
Palm and Shields was not a high-rent district. I guess it was lower middle class, but my memories are sweet and precious. It was a lovely neighborhood with a healthy mix of working-class families and retired folks who had raised their children there. The best part for me was the children. Lots of children.
Halloween was, in my opinion, the very best holiday. Back then it was all about the children. Sundown brought out the kids—droves of us—toddlers to teenagers clogged the streets in search of the best treats and in short order our bags were overflowing with sweet treasures. It was a festive occasion. Streetlights and porch lights were on up and down every street. The October moon illuminated our way along the grass-lined sidewalks of that friendly, pleasant neighborhood—children laughing at the size of their bounty and grownups smiling as they handed out treats.
It was my parents’ ambition for my older sister and me to have as blissful a childhood as possible. They accomplished this with a sweet combination of gentle structure and tender love. From my mother came an abundance of one-on-one time. One example that stands out in my mind concerns my mom and pillow forts. She would take me to the public library where we checked out a stack of books. Mom and I then built a fort from pillows arranged on the floor. In went mom, me, and the books followed by the last pillow which sealed us into that safe and delightful space where my goddess mother sparked my imagination with a passion for reading still burning today. Lest you think Mother and I spent all our time in a pillow fort, be aware that this precious woman also found time to teach me to cook and clean. She instilled in me a sense of responsibility and a work ethic that continues to influence my daily life.
The second memory that illustrates the solid structure and security of my home life concerns Dad. Dad owns his own business. Purchased in 2005, he sells mowers, edgers, equipment parts, and specializes in repairs. Located on Clovis and Shields, the store is called Mowers Edge. (I had to slip in this little plug.) Dad is a third generation Fresnan and is in many ways macho. There is a strong foundation of humor and teasing woven with love into a strong father-daughter relationship. He loves to give me a bad time about being a feminist—which is true! My response to this is always, ‘Dad, you made me this way! Teaching me from day one that there is nothing a girl can’t do. You took me fishing, taught me how to bait my own line, and even clean the fish myself. You encouraged me to play baseball and basketball. In short, Daddy, you made me believe in myself, so if these things make a feminist, I am one and you are most certainly responsible.’ 😊
Lastly, I recall a fishing trip with my parents and grandparents. I was given a little Snoopy fishing pole and caught the only fish of the day. It was hooked by one of its whiskers! I was seven years old and that story is still a part of family lore and a reminder to me of the joy of my childhood.
My education includes Daley Elementary, Hamilton Middle School, Bullard High School, and Fresno City College. I plan to enroll soon at Fresno State and become a high school English teacher.
My story would not be complete without an account of my pursuit and eventual capture of Patrick Lopez. I met Patrick at Bullard. He was seventeen—the best-looking boy I had ever seen. I was fifteen and instantly in love. I followed him across the campus accidentally running into him in the hall, by his locker, and in the library. In November 2016 we were married in the Big Red Church.
I was somewhat jaded about church. Patrick convinced me to try the Big Red Church. I fell in love with the community. Growing up my focus was only on family. This church has provided me with a wide community that adds a new dimension to my life.”
Breaking news: We are excited and privileged to announce that Aurora and Patrick are expecting their first child in July.
Dale Buchanan is a member of FCCF with a passion for stories and writing. In between penning his own memoirs, he is helping us get to know our members, one pew at a time.