Despite living in Fort Worth, Tanisha Rosales, 23, chooses to serve customers at Chili’s in her hometown of Decatur.
“I know everybody, and I’m more comfortable here,” the 2006 Decatur High School graduate said. “There’s a Chili’s literally five minutes from my apartment, but even though it’s bigger, it’s not as busy. The one here is busier, and I just love the people.”
Since the opening of the Decatur franchise’s doors five years ago, Rosales has served customers with her bubbly personality, glowing optimism and bright smile.
“I just try to stay happy,” she said. “Most people I work with, most of the time are happy. Some customers are mean, but the people I work with and the sweet customers make it bearable.
“The people I surround myself with really have an influence over the person I am,” she continued. “I’m happy because they make me happy.”
This notion holds true in negative situations beyond the restaurant doors.
Customers would never know that beyond the smile and giggles, Rosales worries about the health of her mother, Terri Rosales.
“In high school (at least five years ago), we found out she had cancer on her kidney, so they went in and removed that, thinking they got it,” Rosales said. “They obviously didn’t, and it spread.”
A year ago, her mother was told she had cancer on her thyroid, abdomen and lungs.
“She’s been through chemotherapy – she does the pills every two weeks, then has a week off – and it’s gotten everything except the cancer on her thyroid,” Rosales said. “She’s supposed to have surgery to remove that.”
The surgery was scheduled for a couple of weeks ago. However, additional strife prohibited the procedure.
“My grandmother, her mother, got sick and passed away,” Rosales said. “I was devastated that she couldn’t get in for that surgery. The mass on her thyroid takes up three-fourths of her throat, making it hard for her to eat. And half her voice box is dead, which makes it hard to understand her.”
Amidst the misfortunes, Rosales remains composed and collected, reflective, in this case, of her mother’s attitude.
“It really upset me. I mean, it’s my mom,” she said. “But her attitude about the whole thing really helped me. She was like, ‘I’ll be OK. You don’t worry. I’m gonna be fine.’ If I would’ve seen her get upset, then I probably would have had a harder time.”
Through all her hardships, standing more firmly behind her has been her father, Robert Rosales, and his encouraging words.
“He gives me the best advice,” Rosales said. “I talk to my dad every day. He usually texts me, ‘Good morning’ every morning. I love him.”
She chose to commemorate his influence by tattooing his handwriting on her forearm.
“We were eating at On The Border, and I asked my dad to write ‘I love you’ on the silverware wrapper,” Rosales said. “After he did, I told him, ‘You know I’m probably going to get this tattooed on my body at some point. How do you feel about that?’ And he didn’t object.
“I also had him draw some hearts, but they weren’t cute enough,” Rosales continued. “I want to get something for my mom – maybe one of her favorite flowers. I’m really close to both of them and want to ink that.”
Additionally, Rosales “inked” a hippie phase with a peace sign on her foot, and the heartache and learning of relationships with a quote on her ribs.
“It says, ‘There once was a little girl who never knew love until a boy broke her heart,'” Rosales said. “I saw it on Megan Fox originally, but I found out that she writes poetry as a hobby and that was in one. I just fell in love with it.
“I feel like I learn from every relationship as I go through them,” she continued. “I mean you learn from every relationship, but more so when they end, and I look back on them. I learn to love a little more or in a better way. So I can relate to (this tattoo) as well (as the others). They all represent important pieces of my life.”