Thursday, July 4, 2013

My Autobiography, In My Own Words

I can't help but notice an increased amount of traffic on the blog lately, which I think is in part due to it being listed on HoCo Blogs (  Welcome!

But who is Eric?  I haven't written an autobiography in quite some time, but I can at least tell you a little bit about me.

I was born and raised in Prince George's County, Maryland, the son of a career Federal Government worker Dad and a Stay-At-Home/Secretary/Administrative Assistant Mom.  Dad grew up in Western Pennsylvania, the son of a coal miner/pastor/barber, with seven other siblings.  When Dad was 18, my grandfather, Pap, sent him and his brother to DC to get government jobs so they wouldn't have to work in the mines.  So that's what they did.  Dad eventually found a job at the Dept. of Commerce.  Mom was born and raised in the DC/Beltsville area, daughter to a pair of government workers at the National Security Agency.  Her father was also a jazz musician in DC, a renowned trumpet player identified by his small stature due to having been stricken with polio as a baby and needing to use crutches his whole life.  Mom eventually got a job at the Dept. of Commerce as a Secretary.  Mom & Dad soon met, and were married.  I was their first born child.  Eventually, I was joined by a sister and a brother.

We moved to Upper Marlboro when I was 4.  We were in a typical residential neighborhood and had an extraordinary childhood.  I say that because we had it great.  My parents were always around, we had lots of friends, we were never bored, we traveled, we camped, we attended church, we had lots of extended family, we had a cool car (Dad loved his Olds Cutlasses), we were in the suburbs of our Nation's Capital, the center of the Free World.  We were living the American Dream.

I attended Frederick Douglass High School in Upper Marlboro, which was a darn good school in PG County, and I graduated in 1987.  My graduating class is still very close, and I count a number of them as lifelong friends.  Within a month of graduating, my family and I, along with my grandparents (Mom's parents), went on a road trip vacation headed north in a 2-car caravan.  Along the way, shortly after crossing the border at Niagara Falls, we were in a terrible multi-vehicle accident in which my grandparents were killed.  I was fortunate to be pulled out of the car my grandparents were riding in before it was destroyed by fire, coming away with only a concussion.  My grandparent's deaths were significant.  Though I had lost my paternal grandmother some years earlier, their deaths were the first I had experienced of anyone close to me, and it rocked my whole family.

I had planned to attend the University of Maryland at Baltimore County in the Fall, but my plans changed  because of the accident and changing dynamics of my family.  We were all so much more closer-knit, and going away for school seemed daunting after all we had been through.  Instead of going away to live on campus, I applied to the University of Maryland College Park and became a commuter student.  I started out as a computer science major, but soon changed to music performance.  I had played both clarinet and alto sax in the symphonic and jazz bands in high school, and I figured I would follow my heart and become a professional musician.  However, it became a lot more work than fun and I soon determined that I couldn't take my music that seriously to make it a career.  I changed my major again after taking a geography course and finding out that I could actually major in geography.  I had always loved maps, so this was right up my alley.  I took every class I could in both geography and cartography, and a year before I finished school, I got a summer job at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) in Aeronautical Charting.  The summer job turned into a permanent one after finishing school, and I became a professional cartographer.

In the meantime, I had also continued to be involved in my church.  After high school, I served as a youth counselor and entertained the thought of becoming a youth pastor.  I served at a number of different churches during those years, and found God always leading me to youth ministry.

After moving out on my own, I found myself living in Montgomery Village, where I shared a home with my cousin, Dan.  Dan introduced me to a wonderful young lady from his church, named Teresa.  Teresa was an English and Public Speaking teacher at Mt. Hebron High School in Ellicott City.  We dated for a bit and things got very serious very fast.  Within a year, I had proposed, she said yes, and we married in July 1999.  We had a storybook marriage, with God at the center, and we prospered.  We were very involved in our church, Montrose Baptist, and were leading the drama ministry team, where we wrote, acted in, and directed a number of sketches and productions.  In addition, I had become a deacon at the church.  My relationship with Jesus became more and more important and I found myself growing in my faith in ways I never imagined.  In August of 2001, we bought a home in Howard County, just north of Laurel.  The following year, Teresa moved to brand new Reservoir High School in Fulton to help open the school.

It was at this time that we left Montrose Baptist, which was in Rockville, MD, to find a church closer to our home.  Teresa knew about Grace Community Church through many of her students, and knew of its great reputation.  She also knew the pastor and his wife, Mark & Lu Norman, since she had taught many of their children while at Mt. Hebron.  We slowly got involved in the ministry there.

In 2003, Teresa gave birth to our beautiful little girl, Melody.  Our happiness was short-lived, however, when Teresa passed away suddenly on April 19, 2004, from a massive heart attack, while we were walking with Melody and our Faithful Maltese Pup, Scout, outside of Reservoir High.

Teresa's death changed my life.  I find that I'm still picking up the pieces, now nine years later.  There are so many positives that have occurred, as well, though.  My career, which has brought me into upper management in my organization with the Federal Aviation Administration, is going very well.  My wonderful daughter has shown that she picked up most of my wife's smarts as well as beauty, and she's doing so well at school, just completing 3rd grade.

I'm recovering, thanks mostly to the presence of the Lord in my life.  He continues to lead the way, and I've found that life is great again.  I'm hopeful that I will find a partner to share this life with at some point, but I'm taking God's lead on that.  His perfect timing will accomplish that.

I started this blog a few years back, mostly as a way of documenting the adventures that I've experienced over the years.  This year, I decided to take it up a notch and I've tried to write on an almost daily basis, and I never run out of things to write about.  Many of the occurrences mentioned in this post have been expanded on in great detail in previous posts, and I hope you'll find them interesting enough to continue to check on things here.

I'd love to hear from you, so please comment as you see fit.  I'm still learning how this blogging thing works, but I'm having fun and hope you're entertained.

Have a wonderful Independence Day!

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