I always get excited when I get the tweet from Lizzi at Considerings to participate in the Ten Things Of Thankful. This time, it’s the Not Ten, but Twelve Things of Thankful. I thought I couldn’t remember what I’ve done throughout the year but what the heck, I’ll give it a shot and see what I come up with.
As I recaped 2013 month by month, my mood got darker. I got off my desktop and got a 12- pack of Ferroro Rocher chocolates. I ate 6 of them with a Diet Coke before I wrote my second paragraph.
I’m thankful for everything that’s happened in 2013 because each moment taught me an important lesson. Although I still don’t know what the lesson is, I’m sure that time will explain and I’ll make sure to blog about it.
January- It all started in March 2012 when 3 of my cousins got set up by the government with the help of my other cousin, Moe the Snitch, drug dealer and addict. Cousin Mike went from having built an empire in a 20 year period to sitting in an 8 by 8 cell with 3 other cellmates. Accused of terrorism, being a Drug King Pin, and money laundering which the government created by having Moe the Snitch beg and plead Mike for help for family’s sake. After several attempts of begging and pleading to help family and six years of investigation and waste of taxpayers money, they succeded in charging Mike, Steve and Hadi (all brothers) with money laundering. On January 25, 2013, Cousin Mike was sentenced to 12 years 8 months in federal prison for money laundering. Hadi was sentenced to 5 years and Steve took a plea deal of one year, one day and deportation. Devastation beyond words. Our family torn apart. Did I mention that the government paid Moe the Snitch $4000 per month for over 6 years plus many little perks to help set his family up?
I’m thankful that the attorneys believed strongly in my cousins and put up a great fight.
I’m also thankful that you don’t have a “Cousin Moe”.
February- My husband and me celebrated our 21st wedding anniversary. When he said “I do till death do us part”, he had no idea I would be blind siding him like an out of control tornado.
I also filed a civil lawsuit against Steve’s Power Of Attorney and supposedly best friend for not acting on Steve’s best interest, stealing all his property, business and bank accounts. POA also conspired with Real Estate Broker and buyer on the sale of Steve’s home. Little did they know that not only Steve had a cousin who lived 3 hours away named Manal, The Go Go Girl but The Go Go Girl owns a Real Estate company and would soon uncover their scams. Even though, Steve lost everything he owned, I’m thankful that the scammers know now that they will not get away with what they’ve done.
March- We adopted a rescue dog. Frankie was a mean and ill behaved dog. Soon enough, Frankie’s behaviour changed when he realized that we’re not going to hurt him. He’s now a sweet dog for the most part and a great addition to our family.
I became obsessed with the research of the lawsuit as I discovered more scams with the sale of my cousin’s home. I was now suing the POA, Broker, Realty company and Buyer. It had been a rough year since March 2012. I was getting little sleep and my weight dropped from 116 pounds to 94 pounds. Yes, my family and friends were concerned. I broke down in the attorney’s office and refused to acknowledge that I can’t afford to continue with the lawsuit physically or financially. Our attorney, Mr. John Blazier’s exact words to my husband and me, “Go home and think about it. You’ve been through enough. Drop it all and take care of yourself and your beautiful family”. I became angry, I cried with so much pain and anger, “NO. STOP TELLING ME TO DROP IT. These boys lost everything and were betrayed by their friends and family. I will not let anyone else hurt them.” Mr. Blazier continued with the case and brought in his top notch “Trial Lawyer”, Justin Welch. Go Go Justin!
I’m thankful for Mr. John Blazier’s kind words and compassion when I needed it most. Few days later, I called him and thanked him. Mr. Blazier was my angel.
April- Cousin Hadi reported to Georgia to start his five year sentence. He left behind his devastated wife and 7 months old baby boy. He was the “Go to” person for moral support and plan discussions. It was too painful for me to say goodbye in person so I opted for a phone call. I miss him so much. I’m thankful that he calls me often and I can still hear his voice.
We celebrated my husband’s 51st birthday and my son, Daniel’s 20th birthday the night before they both took off for the much anticipated bike ride from Houston to Austin. The MS 150. I’m so proud of both of them for completing the 150 mile ride two years in a row. YAY!
May- I’m thankful for my friend, Abla Amin. I sent her a text: “Road trip tomorrow. Lunch is on me.” She replied, “OK”. We traveled 4.5 hours to surprise cousin Steve for his 40th birthday. He was in the Immigration Detention Center awaiting deportation. The soft look on his face and the tears that filled his blue eyes said it all. He was happy and surprised to see us. We were allowed an hour visit.
My daughter, Mariana got accepted to the University Of Houston in the Kinesiology program. YAY!!
June- Mariana graduated from High School and we had never ending celebrations.
I finally got the phone call. It was Steve. He was in New York and was GOING HOME. Bitter sweet. He’s leaving to start a new life but the pain of leaving his brothers behind with so much uncertainty was overwhelming. I’m thankful that his ordeal is over.
July- I was given few days notice to pack up and move Mike’s fully furnished Condo. At last, I was able to protect his property. The same day, I got a message that my dear friend Lisa was in a horrible boating accident. I’m thankful that she survived and I pray for her full recovery every day.
August- We took a vacation to Morocco and toured 4 beautiful cities in 8 days. We had a fantastic time!
Mariana started her first year in college at the University of Houston and Daniel started his Junior year in college at Texas A&M. Sami started 8th grade. I’m so proud of all their accomplishments. I’m blessed with great kids.
September- I went to Lebanon to visit my parents. Despite the war threats and the political instability, I managed to play tourist and bond with the Lebanese Military and UN Officers. I loved being at my parents home. They spoiled me with home cooked meals and so many sweets. A week after I arrived to Lebanon, my youngest brother, Anthony surprised my parents. He showed up at their front door from San Diego, CA. My mother screamed!! It was the best thing to witness. Sure was hard saying goodbye to them.
October- Cousin Mike was moved from the Hell Hole jail (county jail) he was in to Club Fed. Still couple of hours away from me. The only sunshine he had seen in 19 months was the transportation to the courthouse and back and that was rare. Once he got to the new facility, he ran the track, soaked in the sun for hours at a time among many other things that we take for granted on day to day including listening to music. I was so thankful to hear his voice again the day after his transfer. He sounded so happy and had to rush off the phone so he can be outside again.
I started my blog, Manal The Go Go Girl. My people say I’m always on the Go so thanks to my friends Benny Matthews and Chris Hernandez, it was decided that I would be The Go Go Girl.
November- I wrote a post about Kyle Wilks, a Marine who helped us get out of Beirut, Lebanon during 2006 war in hopes of finding him to thank him. I later found out from my friend and former Marine, Chris Hernandez, that he was killed in action in Afghanistan in 2008. I’m thankful that I was able to connect and share our story with Kyle’s family and friends. Kyle will forever be in our lives.
December- Mariana passed her Biology class, YAY!! It was a struggle for her and a major stressor in her college life. She got to fly to California to be with my sister, aunt and cousins for the holidays.
I started the First Annual Kyle Wilks Marine Toys For Tots drive. We raised $1,125 and I’m looking forward to raising more money for kids each year.
In 2013, I averaged 2 to 3 trips from Houston to Austin per week (3 hour drive one way) despite my busiest year in my real estate career. God knew what I needed. I am so thankful.
I’m thankful that God gave me the strength to fight my cousins’ greedy attorneys and rotten so called friends. I developed quite the reputation in Austin.
I’m thankful for the friends that stuck by me and supported me and for the new friends I met in Austin. I will never forget your generosity and kind words.
I’m thankful for the friends that chose to walk away from me because they didn’t want the association or I was too busy to return a phone call. I don’t blame you. You made me stronger.
I’m thankful for my friend Abla Amin who spent days and nights helping me pack up and put away my cousins belongings. There were so many late nights where I would just stare at her because I was too exhausted or emotional to continue packing. She would say, “sit down, I’ll do it.”
I’m thankful for my friends Lisa Martens and Dr. Yvonne Habet who left their families to take the road trips with me to visit my cousins and give them words of encouragement.
Most of all, I’m thankful for my sweet children and for my husband for backing me up 100% and allowing me to do what I needed to do. I’m now at 104 pounds and looking much healthier. I ride my bike and do Yoga.
May 2014 bring you much happiness, peace and most of all good health!
Cheers for a brighter year!