For the past week and a half I have both avoided and tried to finish writing this blog post. It’s almost like if I finish it or actually put these thoughts down, that it will make an already true situation that much more real.
This will be the first Father’s Day without my dad.
It has only been one month and one week since he passed away, and it will be my family’s first holiday without him. It will be a difficult day not only for my mother, my siblings and I, but also for his grandchildren, whom he was more than just a grandfather to. Maybe next year it will be easier, or maybe it won’t be.
I’ve been asking myself how do I honor him and his memory on this day, and another part of me just wants to ignore the day and skip it until everything isn’t still too raw.
Everywhere I turn I see Father’s Day themed media campaigns, quotes, poems, gifts, and memories shared by all sorts of people. Don’t get me wrong, I am not bitter or angry at that, it’s just that right now it is a reminder that my father is gone. That I won’t get to call him and wish him a good day or worst of all, that I won’t get to tell him I love him and get to hear him say back that he loves me too.
But instead of wallowing in that, I’m going to choose to push myself to remember that I was lucky. I was lucky to have had my father when so many others either never had one or lost theirs far sooner than I lost mine.
One of the most important lessons I learned from my father was to push through. Like many people my father had bumps in his life, but he always push through them and kept working hard to better the life of his family. From him I, and my siblings, learned to be hard workers and that we couldn’t and shouldn’t rely on others to better ourselves.
My father was an immigrant to the United States, and his immigrant story was like the perfect example of the American Dream that used to draw so many immigrants to the States in those times. Many years ago when he arrived as a young man he took a job as a migrant farm worker. He did that backbreaking work that many weren’t willing to do just so he could get his family ahead, so that his children could have a better life than he did. He soon became a naturalised American citizen, found a better and union protected factory job, voted, bought a house in the suburbs, and paid his bills and taxes just like all of his fellow American citizens.
He fought hard for that life. I don’t have any memory of him ever complaining about any of that either — not even though he had to work the graveyard ship, not even when a bad back injury on the job forced him to take some time off to recover, not even after he was diagnosed with cancer and began treatment; No instead all he could think of was getting back to work to so he could continue to provide for his family. After his back injury he went back to his job far too soon despite the physical pain, he again, just pushed through it.
My father sacrificed so much for us and he deserved so much more.
My father hardly ever took a sick day let alone a vacation, he was the most hardworking and dedicated person that I’ve ever known. It was because of this that he instilled a good work ethic in us and from him I learnt to not give up on something that I want to accomplish — and to even be feisty when I have to be.
It’s sad and funny at the same time that it takes someone’s death to see the big picture. While I have always reminded myself, and proudly told people, about how my father built a better life for himself and his family, it isn’t until now that I can really see how much of what he did for us has always been a part of who I am. I guess I just took it for granted and now I only wish I could have him sitting in front of me so I could thank him one more time.
In my office I have a framed picture of my dad sitting besides my desk. I have it placed at an angle where I can turn and look at him smiling. It’s there so that I can remind myself that though we all wish he wasn’t gone, that he isn’t in pain or suffering from that horrible disease anymore. It is also there so that on these days when all I want to do is go lay in bed and cry, that I’ll see him looking at me and help me to instead push through and keep working hard to accomplish my goals for these new phases in both my life and work. Maybe one day our energies will come together again so that I can tell him once more that I love him, thank him for all that he sacrificed for us, and to tell him how much we all miss him.
Happy Father’s Day papi! Te queremos y te extrañamos mucho.
(To those of you that made it this far, thank you for reading this. I know it is not easy to talk or read about loss — specially on this holiday. Give your fathers one extra hug and one extra I love you today. )