Alberto Deoband was like a father to me. I called him Papa Al. He always took care of me and my sisters.
I grew up in a pretty big family as a young girl. I had four brothers and five sisters not including me. My parents had to work day and night to support our big family so they weren’t really around much when I was younger. I didn’t have an authority figure to look up or guide me in many ways in my life. And then I met .
It was one day after school as I was in the local convenience store. I was buying candy for my younger sister and two younger brothers. They trailed after me each holding another hand as I led them through the aisles. They would pick up items and look to me with pleading eyes, begging for me to buy them. I kept telling them that I could not afford all of the things they were asking for and they would have to split one item because momma had asked me to get milk and eggs.
They finally agreed on a two pack Reese’s cup to split between the three of them. All this while, the old man at the counter had been watching us, giggling softly as he watched the circus of children bounce around his store. I walked up to the counter, my arms full and three young kids tugging on the ends up my shirt. I put the two gallons of milk and carton of eggs up onto the counter and grabbed the Reese’s from my brother Cody. When the total came out, I was two dollars above our budget. I looked to my younger siblings and told them we could not get the candy today and I would take them another day. My younger sister Riley began to cry.
I picked her up to comfort her and Al looked to me with sad eyes. He grabbed two more candy bars from behind the counter and rang them up, placing a few of his own dollars into a bin. I told him he did not have to do that at all and he said he wanted to. I thanked him and thanked him again for his kindness and grabbed my siblings forming a small train and walked them out of the store. Everyday when I would come in, I noticed Al was there. He was new to the store and so kind to us. He ended up buying a small bag of suckers and keeping a bowl behind the counter for every time my siblings and I would come in. Sometimes I would stay and talk to Al about school and my family. In return he would tell me things about his life. I learned he had just moved here from New Mexico. He told me stories of when he was my age and I would listen in awe of all the things he had experienced. He began to give me advice and ask me about my school life.
He became a confidant and role model to me. I would spend hours at Al’s store and he would make me feel important and cared about, always asking about my day. I don’t know where I would be without Al and he has truly made difference in my life.