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2002: Mom was always in the stands

by Berry Tramel Modified: May 9, 2009 at 11:02 pm •  Published: May 10, 2008

EDMOND — The boys, strapping and athletic and swinging the world by the tail, can't even play a little football until they look up at the 50-yard line seats, halfway up, and spy mom.

Why, the youngest won't even take the field until he kisses his mother.

They are mama's boys and proud of it.

"She's a great woman," said Gary, the oldest boy of the six kids, ranging down in age from 36 to 14. "She put herself aside, her aspirations, to raise us.

"When you have a whole lot of kids, there's not a lot of people volunteering to baby-sit. How did she do it? She loved us unconditionally. She chased us around. She supported us in our athletic endeavors. She didn't send us to church, she took us to church. She tried to instill things in us her mom instilled in her."

Juana had help. For going on 40 years she and Lawrence have been soul mates, raising on their 10 acres a family with a simple slogan.

"Take your kids fishing and you won't have to fish for your kids."

And so they've fished and played ball and laughed over chicken burritos around the supper table and talked to the wee hours of the morning about the big game the next night and grown tighter than carpet glue.

"It's a good thing, this family thing," said Lawrence.

"We hope the kids will take the same type of perspective. I hope they understand it's a privilege to be part of a family. We trust we've laid the right foundation."

On this spring night at Hafer Park, the foundation shows no cracks. The whole brood, save Roslin, the oldest who lives in Dallas, is in tow to watch Little League games involving a nephew and a grandson. Every day is a family reunion. Any event is a reason to get together.

"I guess we decided a long time ago, family was going to come to second, after God," said Juana. "We concentrated on allowing our children to be the best they could be. The best way to do that is be with 'em. It's easy for them to be with us now because we were with them."

Juana and Lawrence met while working downtown a lifetime ago and soon became regular lunch partners. Lunch is a daily reservation, at Burger King or Pizza Hut or somewhere. Even when the kids were small, Juana packed them up for the noon routine, because nothing keeps the family apart.

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