Brandon was always the academic but socially awkward kid. He had many friends and many girls who would have been glad to "go out" with him but for some odd reason he felt a very strange loyalty to a group of girls that were not always that nice to him. I kept telling him when he would go to the stake dances that he needed to ask some of the others girls to dance. Girls that he never knew. He rarely did, he would always ask the same mean girls. Even though they were mean to him he felt that he needed to take care of them and he wanted to make sure they all got to dance. If you ask Brandon he will tell you that he dated lots of girls in high school but if he did I sure don't know who they were and when he went on those dates.
Finally, for his Senior Prom he did take my advice. Even then he felt guilty about it. He said to me, "Dad, I know it sounds shallow but for Prom I'm going to ask the prettiest girl that I know." He did too. I was so proud of him. I have no idea who she was but he asked a girl from Escondido and they made a beautiful couple.
The summer before he headed off to BYU Brandon did start dating a girl from YSA. He talked about her some but he never brought her around the house so I know next to nothing about her except that her name was Mary. He headed off to the Y with little commitment to anyone and that is just how I like it. I gave Brandon clear instructions about how to date that year at the Y before his mission. I call it the A, B, C rule. Basically it means that you take girl A on a date but before you can take her on a second date you have to take girl B on a date and then girl C. That way he wouldn't get hung up with one girl and he would makes lots of friends and have a lot of fun. I think his actual schedule went something this, girl A, B, C, A, B, A, A, A ... . Girl #A was named Marian. She was a very sweet girl and well suited for Brandon's somewhat intense personality.
Brandon had a wonderful year at the Y and early in his second semester he put in his mission papers. That was a bit of a panic for Kira because Brandon insisted on putting his availability date as his birthday. The problem with that was that Kira's wedding date was June 7 and Brandons birthday is June 2. That means that there was a small but non-zero probability that he could leave on his mission before her wedding. We all tried to convince him to put his availability for after Kira's wedding but he insisted that he would leave it up to the Lord. He received his call while he was still at the Y and we all got on the phone while he opened his call. He was called to the Mexico, Culiacan mission. After some study we learned that Culiacan is in the State of Sinaloa which is the home to several of the nastiest drug families in Mexico. Lisa was terrified and it took much more faith for her to send her boy on his mission that it took for Brandon to go.
Before he reported to the MTC (mission training center for those who may not know) Brandon received a phone call from the MTC. They spoke to him in Spanish so Brandon switched to Spanish and spoke with them. Brandon took Spanish in High School but got pretty good at it by talking to the staff at a restaurant where he's worked since he was sixteen. They chatted for a while and then the guy told him that he'd just had his Spanish test.
Brandon gave his farewell talk the day after Kira's wedding day. It was a bit sad because his farewell was somewhat overshadowed by Kira's wedding but he was very good about it and in someways it was perhaps better. A lot of people who came for the wedding were able to just stay for his farewell and we had a small open house for him. A LOT of people showed up and helped us eat some of the left over food from the wedding.
When he reported at the MTC Brandon had an orange dot on his name tag while everyone else had a green dot. We were quite concerned that his was so different so we asked about it. It turns out that orange means you're a native speaker and green means you're learning a foreign language. Brandon was put in a district with all Spanish speaking missionaries. That really gave him a boost for learning Spanish. From day one everything was in Spanish and he was learning the discussions with Elders from Spanish speaking countries.
Brandon's mission was a tough one in many ways. He told us that when he stepped off the plane for the first time in Culiacan it was so hot he thought he was in Hell. I won't go into all the details of his mission but suffice it to say that death was a common spectacle on the streets of Culiacan. He personally knew at least half a dozen people who either died or were murdered. It was a very unusual mission but while it had it's tough times it also had some very special moments and he has returned home a stronger and more prepared person because of it. He also left Mexico a better place than it was when he got there.
One of the tougher days for Brandon was on June 2, 2005. That was the day he opened a letter from Marion. Marion had written Brandon regularly through his entire mission. No one figured she would wait for him but as the end of his mission approached and she was still writing we began to think that perhaps it was really going to happen. Well, just days before he was to be released Brandon got the infamous "Dear John". He was devastated and it took him some time to get over it.
It was great to have Brandon home again. It was nice also to have him come home right before summer started because we got to have him home for the entire summer before he took off again. He worked for a contractor so Brandon built some good muscles that summer and learned all kinds of useful skills. His next year at the Y was spent rethinking all of his plans. He was quite confused about what direction to take his life and his greatest fear was closing doors on future potential options. During this year he came to know a wonderful young woman named Serene. Serene suits her name to a "T". Brandon stayed at the Y for the spring term. He brought two girls for a visit between the Winter and Spring terms and he gave Serene a ride to her mothers house in the LA area somewhere. This trip is when he decided he really liked this girl. The other two girls were relegated to the back seat and Serene had shot gun the entire trip. By the end of spring term Brandon was convinced he wanted to marry Serene. Brandon worked that summer at Hi-Z (I was still at Kyocera) and every penny he earned went to buying a diamond. He didn't want to pick out a ring so he waited until he was back up in Provo before buying the ring.
Brandon couldn't wait for a ring to propose so he proposed to Serene on the south hill of campus. There he was on bended knee with an unmounted diamond. He was so anxious to get married that he wasn't about to wait for anybody and against his mothers desperate plea's they decided to get married over the Christmas holidays. Due to some very bizarre events Alex, Sarah and I ended up missing the wedding. Lisa, Alycia, Kira and Justin did manage to get there. I will blog about that later but I don't have room to tell the story here and I don't want to poison a very enjoyable story with those bad memories.
So Brandon and Serene were married December 30, 2006 and they were expecting our wonderful little Sydney before their honeymoon was over. Sydney arrived in this world in October during both Brandon and Serene's senior year at BYU. Don't ask me how they made it but they both graduated from BYU that following spring.
Right now Brandon is studying law at Pepperdine University and Serene is busy being a mother to two beautiful little girls. Hayley joined their family just this last September. I really love being a grandpa.
--------------------trivia--------------------On November 16, 1532, an army of 168 Spanish soldiers defeated an army of 80,000 from the Inca Empire. More than 7,000 Inca's were slaughtered and many more injured. The slaughter would have been much worse but it was cut short by nightfall. Not one Spanish soldier was killed. Steel swords and a few crude guns made all the difference.