abe villarrealAbe Villarreal is the Dean of Student Success at Cochise College. He enjoys writing about people, pastimes, and the small things in life. 

Reflecting on a grandfather's service and his why

By Abe Villarreal

When I see a military photo of my grandfather, I wonder why he chose to enlist. I see him looking straight at the camera, head slightly tilted. Flag flying behind him, and the only words to be read say U.S. Navy.

Tata Abram enlisted in 1943 when he turned 18. Most young men at that time, and at that age enlisted. Maybe they thought it was the right thing to do in a time when the world was fighting for the survival of what was right and the extinction of what was wrong.

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Airports, layovers, and learning about our differences

By Abe Villarreal

I'm writing this to you as a I sit at a funny-looking round red table constructed to promote the history of the Coca-Cola company. It's the only place I could plug in to charge my laptop in the Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport. I'm on my way to Salamanca, Spain, and it's my first time traveling overseas.

Someone told me once that the only way you can grow as a person is by traveling. You meet the kind of people you see on TV shows, and you visit cities and towns you only read about in books. Most places are at the same time somewhat like you imagined them to be and really different than you expected.

At the airport, all those people you want to get to know come together. Airports bring people together, sometimes for good and sometimes for bad, for a brief moment in time. I've learned a lot of life lessons during brief moments.

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On your birthday, it's others that are worth celebrating

By Abe Villarreal

It's my birthday today, and on birthdays, we celebrate life. So, here's to life—all its good and bad, all its regularity and all its surprises, all its traditions and all the newness that is to come. In my life, it's the people and the places that are worth celebrating.

Like my friend Jordana, who sells sweets and piggy banks, and whatever else she was assigned for the day. She works at the "line" on the Douglas/Agua Prieta border. You can find her there on most days after school. She greets everyone with a big smile and makes you feel like you are always appreciated to be seen. I wish more of us were more like her.

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Unparked shopping carts and other signs of the times

By Abe Villarreal

It's graduation season and twenty-something-year-olds are getting ready to leave college and start something new. They've hit the books for years. They've eaten Ramen for breakfast and dinner. They've slept less than is humanly possible. They are about to graduate.

My grandparents didn't graduate college, and neither did their parents. They grew up, and before they finished growing up, they started working. Most people have done that for almost all of the history of time.

Little people became bigger people. What they learned was what they saw, what they were told, what they had to experience. People didn't have too many choices then. You did what you did because that's what your parents did or what you had to do at that moment in your life. Most people turned out okay.

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Finding our own rhythm and sticking to it

By Abe Villarreal

We all know people who describe something in a way that means not to offend. Such as when a realtor says that the house is charming or an older person is defined as being in their advanced years. We all know what those things mean until we don't.

Sometimes, softening up language gets in the way of what we really mean to say or to understand. So, let's start a movement of saying what we mean, when we mean to say it, and how we mean for it to be heard.

Old waitresses with names like Flo and Sunny do this every day. The waitresses who still wear aprons and nametags. They serve up coffee in ceramic mugs that should have been retired years ago. They take your order in cafés with large windows, bar seats, and the sounds of the local AM radio. I like those kinds of waitresses. They don't mess around, and they know what they were created to do on this good earth.

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Love, sacrifice, and other Holy Week reminders

By Abe Villarreal

Last week at the migrant center, a kid about nine years old wanted to help me hand out cake for one of the birthdays we were celebrating. We celebrate many birthdays at the center for young and old. This kid has been there with his seven brothers and sisters, and mom, for about three weeks.

He has some kind of leg, hand, and arm disability. His mom helps him walk. His brother helps him in the restroom. His hands are stiff and held out in an immobile position. He can hold things just differently from the rest of us. He did help me with the cake distribution. All kids want to help in some way.

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Being quiet in a world that's too loud

By Abe Villarreal

All my life people have told me to speak up – to enunciate. "You mumble" are two words I hear in meetings and during phone calls. Being loud has never been easy for me. There are already too many loud people in the world.

Still, society expects us all to have certain norms. Stand up straight. Shake a hand firmly. Look people in the eyes. Speak up and loudly. We are all soldiers in somebody's army. Life would be too boring if it was filled with those who speak up all the time.

We all know those people who whisper a little too loudly. They try to not interrupt those around them, but their whispers make noise and blow a lot of air. Those kinds of people always make me giggle.

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Grief, obituaries, and choosing words to say

By Abe Villarreal

I helped a friend write an obituary this week. It was one of those acts of kindness that come after you tell your friend that you are there for them and will do anything, not knowing what anything really means. It's just a feeling when you say it.

Grief is a complex enemy and friend. It comes and goes. It sucker-punches you just when you are feeling better. It's there when you don't know it is. Sometimes you run away from it. Sometimes you can't escape it. You feel it all around, even when you can't feel anything. When you are numb to everyone and everything.

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