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16 was rough age for me. Growing up in a home were my father was an alcoholic living with my sickly 82 year old grandmother who raised me, losing my closest brother and having a mother who only came around once in a while was tough. To me, my father was the greatest person in the world when he wasn’t drinking; which wasn’t very often. There were many times growing up when he tried to go to rehab to get clean but that never lasted very long. He started drinking when I was very young. My grandmother was the one who raised me because my father was always drunk or sleeping. This was an everyday routine. When I was 14 years old it started to get worse. My dad would come home to argue, yell and scream at my grandmother and I often breaking things in the process. This would happen every day. After a while I started to hang out and not come home for days. My poor grandmother would be so worried about me but I just didn’t want to deal with what was going on. I was so tired of the mental and verbal abuse that I would only come home to shower, nap, get dressed and leave. I would always stay at one of my friend’s house. I would see my dad in passing and he would start yelling and cursing which made me want to stay away. In spite of it all I continued going to school for two more years, keeping my grades at 80’s and 90's. In June of 1994 in a park behind the 83rd precinct my oldest brother was shot. We were in the park with his son (5) his daughter (4) my middle brother, my mother and her boyfriend just watching the kids play when a commotion broke out. My older brother and a couple of guys from around his way got into an altercation. So my little brother and I grabbed both kids and put them inside of a building when we heard gun shots. My mother’s boyfriend grabbed the kids from us and as we turn around we saw my older brother lying on the ground bleeding. When they say things like this happen in slow motion it's so true. He was rushed to the hospital where he laid in a coma for 6 months to awaken and never be the same. My brother ended up in a wheel chair with an open wound on his stomach. Every time he ate food it would leak out from his stomach; that was so horrible to watch. My mother decided in June of 1995 to take him to live in Puerto Rico where he died 3 weeks later due to lack of medications. I was saddened because was unable to see my brother for one last time. Fast forward to March 1995, one day I was bringing my grandmother some items from the bodega; my father was home drunk and was sitting in the living room. When I walked in he started to verbally attack me and told me to get out the house. That was the day that I lost it; all I remember was hearing my grandmother screaming for me to get off of my dad. I left that day and didn’t return for 3 days. The day that I did return; I came home, showered and went to sleep about 12pm. Around 4pm I felt my grandmother tugging at my feet telling me to go and talk to my aunt on the phone, when I picked up the phone, my aunt was asking me where my father was. Of course I said I hadn’t seen him in days; my aunt then stated that my grandmother told her he was in the house but I was unsure. I walked around the house I didn’t see him and I told them he must’ve went back outside. As I went back into my room I flicked on the lights and saw that my father he had hung himself with and extension cord. Lying next to him was a pint of vodka; my father wasn’t breathing, his lips were blue and when I called out to him there was no response. I untied him, called 911 and the first responders performed CPR all of the way to the hospital where he was later pronounced dead. On January of 1996 my grandmother passed away which left me alone. At the age of 16 I hadn’t finished school and unfortunately dropped out to work and pay rent. I was 5 months away from graduating but had no other choice, my mom was gone and didn’t help me when I needed her the most; she refused. Today I am a proud and a single mother of a 19 years old daughter who is graduating in June of 2019 who got awarded a scholarship to Pace University. I also have a 14 year old son who is graduating in June of 2019 and going on to high school. I have lost so much in so many ways, but I've also gained so much in love and life. I battle every day with mental and emotional challenges due to my experiences. Even still, I always put my best foot forward because I know that I am still overcoming.

Rosa Rodriguez

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