ABILENE, Texas (KTAB/KRBC) – It’s Memorial Day weekend and people are eager to get out of the house. But for those families who decided to stay off the roads, they headed to area parks and bodies of water, like Lake Fort Phantom Hill’s Johnson Park. For some Big Country families, they’re celebrating something, alongside remembering fallen Veterans.

“We’re really just going to barbecue and camp out here, take the kids swimming. You know, a little floaty-action, stuff like that,” said Quaunicia Solis. 

For the extended Arellano Family, Memorial Day weekend is something special. 

“It’s all for the kids, you know, it’s a time to think about being closer to your family nowadays,” said Octavio Mario Arellano. 

Mr. Arellano told KTAB/KRBC he’s struggled with addiction for years, to the point of seeking help from Abilene’s Serenity House for drugs and alcohol. 

“I didn’t want to do anything but be by myself and doing what I was doing,” said Arellano. 

For the past six months, he said he’s been clean, sober, happy and planning to stay that way.  

“My family is starting to get a lot more trust in me again,” Mr. Arellano said. “I’m getting their respect back.”

His nieces and nephews told KTAB/KRBC they are grateful to see him in a new light over this Memorial Day weekend and back around everyone who’s never stopped loving him.

“To be able to hang out with family, and now that he’s getting more involved with us, it’s awesome,” said Mr. Arellano’s neice, Solis. “We love him and are very proud of him.”

Hearing how proud his family is, Mr. Arellano said the sentiment always brings tears to his eyes, as he never knew the pain his addiction brought on them. 

“It feels great for me right now,” Mr. Arellano said. “It’s been a long time coming, but it’s great to be back.”

The family said they all plan to spend the whole weekend camping out at Johnson Park. Mr. Arellano added how he’s really looking forward to spending time with those closest to his heart.