When he'd get home from work, he would be wearing his work shirt with his name tag on and if my brother and I were up, he'd do a goofy dance for us, as he whistled a little tune. It always made us giggle to see our dad doing such a silly thing. A dance that Angus, Jonas and Paloma have witnessed. Giggles still follow and "grandpa's silly" and "again" come out of their mouths.
My dad has always been a hard worker. He has never sat around and waited for things to come to him. He has treaded forward on his own. He has worked hard for all that he has -- earned every bit of it. His journey, or I should say journeys, because there were more than just one, from a small town in chihuahua to the city life here in the states were rough. There also were a lot of good things that he got to experience and many good people he met along the way. He came here to help his family. His plan was to make money to send back home. He did that.
To this day, he still talks about how hard it was to leave his mother behind. How much he missed her every time he left, knowing that she was getting older as time passed on. But they were his motivation to travel far and work and off he went each time.
At home, Although he worked so much, his presence was always felt. There were times that he would walk me to school and we would have breakfast together. I don't think it was very often, but I remember it. Him being there and making that effort. On his days off, he'd take us out to the mall, to eat pizza, or see a movie.
During one of my young and naive phases as a teenager I told him that after I graduated high school I was going to be done with school. No college for me because 12 years were enough. He looked at me and said, "ok, if that is what you want." Yes, I thought, that is what I want. I think he knew I was smarter than that, so he let me have my way at that moment. He didn't pressure me, he let me figure it out on my own, because he knew me and he knew I wasn't going to stop there.
After I graduated, I was already signed up at our local community college. I rode the bus most every day, except on the mornings that he offered to give me rides to school, tired from little sleep from working late. I didn't make him get up, but it was something he wanted to do, because otherwise we'd never see each other.
His health started deteriorating around that time. He wanted to sleep the days away. He was thin, eyes sunken, face pale. We went to the doctor and found out he had hyperthyroid and he was wasting away. Around that time, he also had applied at the casino and had been hired.
After all the treatments and doctors visits, he was looking and feeling better, but it took a while to get back to feeling like himself, again.
He still has his thyroid issues, but not like those days, thank God!
To this day, my dad continues to be a strong presence in my life and my children's lives. I know it's the same for my brother.
He is always there. And he lets us know every chance he gets.
My dad and I can sit and talk for hours. It's as if we have so much to communicate to each other. Maybe we are catching up on lost time from all those years of him working. He can show up and we can start a conversation and it can be hard to end it. We have to stop ourselves, because there are other things to be doing, of course.
I love my dad for being a great father to my brother and I. For being kind, gentle and always understanding. For never losing his cool. For his short, but sweet, visits to our house. For being the best grandfather to my children, for they are very lucky to have him. For always talking with me. For his awesome and tasty cooking. For the lessons he has taught me. For his sense of humor, even though sometimes some people don't get it, but I do! For his love for his family, near and far. But most especially for always being there for me.
I love you dad!