This is the second entry in a four part series - highlighting each of the four Sanchez brothers (for context see previous blogs). Today I am writing about the oldest brother, Cesar Martin Sanchez AKA Marie Heart.
I first got involved with the brothers thru meeting Cesar. We struck up a conversation and I invited him to a free classical music concert later that afternoon. He had never been to one before so he was impressed, even though “it was not his kind of music”. After the concert, we talked about many different things including his past and what he saw as his future. We “ran into each other” about a week later and had another nice conversation. At the time, he was staying with a friend but that was about to end. I invited him to come and stay with me for a week. As it turned out, one week turned into one year.
When he was first living here, we mapped out a strategy to help him achieve his goals and ambitions. One of his goals was to get a job so I helped him create a resume. We didn’t have much to work with but we made one anyway. He got a letter of recommendation to go with it. We had an added obstacle. Cesar, bless his heart, has rather severe learning issues. His understanding and comprehension of written materials are not what they should be. To compensate for this we made a plan. I would help him fill out the job applications. Applying online it was not a problem as I could always help him unseen. When he had to go in to the actual restaurant, it was a little different. He would ask for the application then say he forgot his glasses, come out to the car where I would help him fill it out. He would then go back in to return it, all filled out. All this effort paid off. Cesar landed a food service job at a private university. It was a long way from our house and required two bus transfers, each way, to get there. To his credit, he did this about four days a week for eight months.
Cesar knew from an early age, 11 to be exact, that he was gay. Growing up in the foster system has its challenges, especially for someone who is different. According to him, he was always open about the fact that he was gay, and it got him into some trouble. He often relied on his younger brother, Mannie, to keep his tormentors away.
I have always encouraged Cesar to be proud of who he is, I think it’s very important.
One of Cesar’s great attributes is that he is always happy! It doesn’t matter what’s happening in his life, good times or bad, he is always happy. I use this example to his brothers all the time.
For Cesar’s first plane flight he chose San Francisco. He always wanted to go there and to fly on a plane. We stayed at a nice hotel right under the Trans America tower. We got to do all the touristy things like ride cable cars, walk and eat in Chinatown, Union Square, etc. For Cesar, walking around the Castro area was it.
It was nice to be able to share this with him.
After about a year living with me, Cesar was ready to go out on his own. It was good timing because his brother Mannie was about to turn 18 with no place to go. I helped Cesar find a room to rent near here. It was a “fixer upper” so he painted it with the colors he liked and moved in. That was almost 3 1/2 years ago.
About 2 years ago, Cesar became “fascinated” by cross dressing. He quickly got into the scene and is a popular Drag Queen in the Hillcrest area. At 6’5”, even taller in size 15 high heels, she stands out.
Another life changing event occurred 8 months ago for Cesar. He was riding as a passenger in a vehicle this past Memorial Day weekend. A speeding drunk driver was hurling his vehicle towards them. He hit 2 parked cars then smashed his vehicle into the car that Cesar was riding in. Meanwhile Cesar was trapped in the car. The “jaws of life” were used to get him out of the wrecked vehicle. He was transported via ambulance to the hospital. There he found out that his C-1 vertebra was badly fractured, his hip was fractured and he had many assorted bruises. The doctors did emergency surgery to fuse some of the vertebrae together. They added a plate in the back of his head with rods running down his spine.
This brings me back to the rehab unit. Cesar was confronted with the daunting task of rehabilitation. It was just too much for him at the time. He refused to participate in any of the rehab activities despite what other people were telling him. He was in such pain that all he wanted to do was sleep. Due to his lack of participation in anything, he developed pneumonia. After I left the hospital, I thought for sure he had completely given up on life. I was resigned to the fact that if that’s what Cesar wanted then there’s nothing more I could do. I was ready to sit with him until he passed. Fortunately, he snapped out of it and began to participate in life again.
It has been a tough climb but he has embraced it and recovered well. To look at him today you would never know what happened.
I will always be in Cesar/ Marie’s life as a friend, advocate and mentor.
I wish you Peace and Happiness, always my friend !