As I journey through life, I have led two lives.
From the ages of 25 to 45, I was a carefree, childless, television news reporter … a police-beat reporter. Glamorous, right? I had a spending allowance that covered hair, nails, makeup and, of course, clothing.
I lived for the thrill of getting the scoop. It was my passion and I lived it 24/7 because news never sleeps.
I worked in many newsrooms in San Antonio, Laredo and Dallas-Fort Worth. I interviewed families who lost loved ones to murder. I traveled to death row to interview the notorious railroad killer, Angel Resendiz, who told me, “If I saw you walking down the street, I wouldn’t kill you.”
I was like, “Thanks, Angel.” I wasn’t worried because he was behind thick glass.
I also witnessed a lethal injection standing next to a victim’s grown children.
One time on a hunch, I set up a jailhouse interview with a convicted rapist named Ramiro Gonzales because I felt he knew something about a missing teenager in Bandera. I had done a few stories about 18-year-old Bridget Townsend and her disappearance haunted me. In the jail, we sat a few feet apart. Gonzales talked about his conviction on a charge of raping a Hill Country real estate agent.
We chatted about his young life and I let him talk, until I finally asked him, “How do you know Bridget Townsend?” He wasn’t prepared for that question.
He replied, “I don’t know who that is.”
I said, “You need to do the right thing and tell her mother where her body is.”
That evening, Gonzales tried to set his concrete-block jail cell on fire. He called the sheriff and a Texas Ranger and decided to lead them to Bridget’s remains.
They told me he said, “That news lady said I need to do the right thing.” Gonzales took the lawmen to a large ranch, where he had sexually assaulted the real estate agent. They found the skeletal remains of Bridget not far from that crime scene.
Gonzales, who is in his late 30s, remains on death row.
I learned a lot about human nature as a reporter, including the lesson “expect the unexpected.”
I was 48 when my second life began — the life I had unknowingly been preparing for all these years.
It’s July Fourth weekend 2012, I am married to my best friend Ron and life is grand. We lounge by the Oak Hills Country Club pool every weekend without a care in the world. And then, the unexpected happened. In the early morning hours of July 7, 2012, God showed me his/her sense of humor: I was about to become a mom with a really fast gestation period.
Fairy Princess Knausha (a Child Protective Services caseworker) calls, asking us to care for a 10-month-old girl in an unstable situation. We dress quickly and drive to the address where our Reagan was waiting. She was crying, wearing dirty clothes, clad in a soiled diaper; there was a smelly diaper bag and filthy bottles. I carried her to our sport-utility vehicle, a new feeling because I had not held many babies.
The caseworker said, “We are placing Reagan with you for a couple of weeks until we sort it all out.” My heart is racing because I know nothing about babies.
How do you change a diaper? What do 10-month-old babies eat? We head to the 24-hour Walmart. My assignment: Shop for clothes, bottles, formula, diapers — at least that’s what Ron thinks is happening at 3 a.m.
When I finally return to our vehicle, he asks, “What took so long?”
I said, “Do you know they don’t sell floaties? We need floaties to take Reagan swimming.”
Well, two weeks turns into “We are terminating parental rights, will you adopt Reagan?” We were all in and braced ourselves for the CPS rollercoaster of hearings and visitations, and a termination trial. Seriously, this was far more stressful than a nine-month pregnancy. But, there’s more! Reagan also has twin brothers. So, more visitations, hearings and a trial. We adopted our beautiful children in December 2013 and January 2014.
They are ours and we are their real mom and dad.
This is how I became a first-time mother at 48. I would not change one thing in my past life because those experiences brought me to where I am today. Our children are beautiful and smart, kind and funny. They know they “adopted” Ron and me as their parents.
We are the Eisenbergs, and it’s never a dull moment in our home.
Eisenbergs work harder to be better than we were the day before.
It’s a lofty goal and one we aspire to every day. Shouldn’t we all? Oh, did I mention, while all of this was going on, I started a business? Gosh, I buried the lead.
More on that in later columns on parenting.
Gina Galaviz Eisenberg is a mother of 9-year-old Reagan, and 7-year-old twins Kennedy and Carter. She and her husband, Ron, own the public relations firm, The Eisenberg Group.