MSgt Michael A. Rickman
I am Michael A. Rickman, son of Mary A. Robles. I entered her home when I was 10 years of age. I accepted God into my heart the following year. Eight years later, I enlisted in the Air Force as a Security Forces member. It was the first time Mary had a foster child reach the age of 18 in her home. It was the first time I ever had a Mother. I have been in three foster homes in my youth. I have suffered much pain and struggle through life and had many endeavors. Many have said I would never achieve in life; I was too small and stupid. Many tried to tear my very existence of living. This is a small insight of my struggles to my conquest. This is Mi Vida, My Life.
I am the oldest of nine (unknown on how many to date), since I last lived with my biological mother. I do not remember much of my childhood, due to the many years that passed and the simple want to forget. I entered my first foster home on my birth, which I have read court documents stating neglect and abuse by my biological mother. I remained in this home for a few years. I have lived a normal life of a child, with love and care, from what I was told and have seen in pictures. I returned to live with my biological mother, yet I still visited my first foster home. I considered them, even to this day, my grandparents.
A new path was to begin with my bloodline. We were always in a constant move, never to stay in one place longer than a couple of months, always living with a stranger’s face. I don’t remember much, however, I saw a world of torment. People lived in a constant pain and sorrow. The glimmer of the sunlight reflected the demons of the night. People walked around in a lost state of mind; closed to life-itself. I recollect having to gather loose change for food and thinking how fortunate I was. I would see people on the street corners with nothing but bottles, needles and the clothes on their backs. We had to stand in lines for hours in public places to receive our government food; large cans of peanut butter and bricks of cheese. My biological mother was never around due to acute manic depression and schizophrenia; she was aimlessly lost. I then learned how to cook, clean and change diapers for my brother and sisters before I even new the alphabet. I was always wearing the same clothes to school, if I even went at all. At night, the world became a different place. Listening to the gunfire in the air and watching groups of people gather on the street corners, just shy of the street lights, as if they were hiding or maybe ashamed. I soon entered my second foster home due to the negligence of my biological mother and the abuse to my siblings by the strangers we lived with.
This home was African-American and not accepting of my…skin or color if you will. I had gotten into my first fight but not my last. I was in this home with my brother for a year or so. I always took the blame for our faults and was beat for them as well.
The lady used a switch from a tree to continuously whip the palm of my hand until it blistered. Subconsciously, I began to build a numbness to the world and put up internal walls keeping me emotionally disconnected. This is when I first comprehended the existence of GOD, as the foster lady forced me to go to church. I could not fathom the idea of such a being. Why would there be some deity creating a world of lost souls, killing themselves and others like a virus. I visited my biological mother once in a while on weekends, learning she had once again given birth to life. Again, why would a God grant this power of birth to someone who is irresponsible to life? During the 80’s, the court system favored reunification with family, more so to the biological mothers, in which my brother and I soon returned to our so-called “family”.
At the time of being around the ages of eight or nine, once again I’m in a constant move. There are now six of us siblings living with my biological mother, along with strangers. The only man I recall having a positive impact on my life was a guy named Manual. He was the closest to a father figure I ever had; not knowing who my biological father is. Manuel is a Mexican who spoke very little English. My biological mother was fluent in Spanish, to my knowledge. I took a liking to him as I felt he did to me. I soon learned why people gathered at night with their habits of the flesh. I learned the walks of men and the colors they spoke. I learned the sounds of death when the night crept by. Not knowing this would be my final home, my siblings and I were broken up due to my biological mother’s disappearance with one of my sisters. After Manuel took his daughter to his mother’s house, which I assumed, he then called the police. He stated that he would like to have kept us; however, there was simply too many of us for him to raise, as we all were just trying to get by day by day. For my final time, I saw a sleek, solid, black colored car come pick up the rest of us. My brother and sisters began to cry and ask me where and why we were leaving. I could not answer them. We all hugged Manuel and said our good-bys with me to go last. I remember crying for the first time in my life, as I hugged him, not knowing what I was or supposed to feel; this was very unfamiliar to me. We stayed in an office as I watched the men and women at the desks assuming they were finding some place for us to go while my siblings watched television. My biological mother was found a few days later walking on the freeway in a schizophrenic state of mind holding my sister. At this time having no chance of returning to my biological mother, my brother and I were placed into my third and final foster home.
This is the home of Mary. A new life was to begin. I did not unpack the few things I had and always asked for something to eat. I kept to myself only talking to my brother. Mary always told me, I did not have to ask for food and I could unpack. No matter how comfortable she tried to make me feel, I always felt as if I was going to leave again. I acted this way for the first year or so. Once again, I was taken to church, “The Church of the Redeemer”. Mary put my brother and me in Royal Rangers, meeting the positive and God loving Danny Bernal. This man taught me more than just Royal Rangers. He taught me the attitude to get were I am today. I soon accepted Christ into my heart. With each night passing, I would always pray to God to let me sleep and not ever wake. I wanted to go to this “Kingdom of Heaven”. I was tired of the world I was born into. The pain was too deep for any one person to bear. My brother soon left to live with his father. I had the option of going as well, but I remember the abuse he gave me when we once lived with him before. I was not his son and felt I did not belong. After years passing with Mary, I graduated high school and enlisted in the Air Force.
I have learned a great deal of life and business with the armed service. This was the only thing I ever wanted when I was a child, to be a “soldier”. To be on a battlefield, not worrying of life and of its petty struggles; to look at death straight in its eyes and defeat it as the world I came from was far much more painful than death. To just look after the man next to you for a simple thing called life. No good guys, no bad guys, no heroes; just survival, loyalty and honor. Its ironic how something, war, is so ugly and morally incorrect but can be so pure and honest. I have been in the Air Force for twenty years now, having been stationed in RAF Lakenheath, England, Edwards AFB, CA, and now FE Warren AFB, WY. I have visited France and Germany and have deployed seven times to various locations including Saudi Arabia, Diego Garcia, Pakistan, Iraq, and Afghanistan. Having a lot of experiences and listening to many stories along the way, I have learned to confront the thieves of life and gained loyal friends.
I am uncertain of why I wrote this story, but sometimes stories must be told. I no longer say my nightly prayer of not wanting to wake up; but a new prayer, asking for strength, wisdom, and will. With this and the power of God, one can conquer any struggle and have a good life. I still have problems like everyone else and wonder if I will survive them. With God by my side, I know I can make it through the dark times and walk in the light. There are others with stories far worse than mine, pain that hurts much deeper. Maybe after reading this story, one can get a hold of their life to walk morally correct. I asked God sometimes why this road was chosen for me. Maybe it’s to help others, to show them there is a light after a dark tunnel. Or maybe it’s to teach me how to lay down my path properly so I can walk with God. Or maybe it is to lead the lost or those who cannot fend for themselves. Maybe it was simply to give Mary a son and me a mother. Only God knows why. Until we meet in heaven, I will just have to continue to live free in his name.
Scriptures I live by:
Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friend’s. John 15:13
And now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love. 1st Corinthians 13:13
Thanks and God Bless,
Michael A. Rickman
The below statement is not my words.
A Wonderful Way to Explain Death:
A sick man turned to his doctor, as he was preparing to leave
The examination room and said, "Doctor, I am afraid to die. Tell me what lies
On the other side." Very quietly, the doctor said, "I don't know."
"You don't know? You, a Christian man, do not know what is on the other
Side?" The doctor was holding the handle of the door; on the other side
Came a sound of scratching and whining, and as he opened the door, a dog
Sprang into the room and leaped on him with an eager show of gladness.
Turning to the patient, the doctor said, "Did you notice my Dog?
He's never been in this room before. He didn't know what was inside. He knew
Nothing except that his master was here, and when the door opened, he Sprang in without fear.
I know little of what is on the other side of
Death, but I do know one thing... I know my Master is there and that is enough."