March 10, 2011


Sometimes I believe I may judge Big Cheese unfairly.  He may not be a horrible father, he just isn't the type of father I am accustomed to. I expected someone to father my children the way my dad did for me.
Today is my Daddy's birthday.  He has been gone from our lives since I was 12.  I had him for 12 glorious years.  He was the best Daddy anyone could have.  It is because of him I am the person I am today.  He taught me so much.  A lot of what he taught me are things I want my babies to learn as well.

Things that made him an exceptional father:
  • He called my half sister his daughter .  Not step daughter, not my wife's child, HIS daughter.  He did for her what her own father probably would never have done for her.  He was her dad as much as he was mine.
  • He loved my mother.  Despite her hot Latin temper, despite the difference in opinion.  He would grab her hand even when she was mad.  He would kiss her cheek and hold doors for her.  He respected her as a woman, as the mother of his child.
  • He would pass up a night out dancing with friends if no one was able to take care of me.  He would even send my mom out with those friends and he would stay home with me.  He never wanted me to feel that other things were more important than keeping us a family.
  • He made pancakes on Saturday mornings and he made sure that we ate meals at the table as a family.  During these meals he would ask me how school was and about what I wanted to do.  He never belittled me as a child.  He listened and encouraged all the dreams I layed out as a child.
  • He had a variety of friends from all walks of life.  They were poor migrant workers, well to do lawyers he worked with, middle class friends from the barrio he grew up in East Los Angeles.  He exposed me to all kinds of races, ethnicity's, backgrounds.  "mija no one is above anyone, we are just people, humans"
  • He loved all kinds of art.  He would take me to museums to see art work.  He would also take me to East Los Angeles and show me the paintings on the walls by local artists. I would spend hours in the garage watching him come up with his own pieces of art.  That is when he would show me brush strokes and how to shade to create effects on drawings. I can still smell the oil paints and hear the stroking of the brush on the canvas.
  • He made sure we knew our heritage.  He found his extended family in Mexico City that my grandfather left when he crossed the border with my grandmother.  We were never to lose touch with them again.  We would spend summer vacations and Christmas vacations visiting the large family we had there.  I learned the culture, the food, the art first hand.  I still speak with those family members years after our first meeting.
  • He fought for other's rights and made sure we knew that when someone is being treated unfairly to speak up.  My father was a police officer and he was always the police officer even after he retired the badge.  If there was something that wasn't right, he tried to make it right.  I don't know how many times I would see my dad stop something that was not right.  I remember the neighbor who had just moved in came to our house seeking to call her parents because her drunk husband had beaten her.  My dad promptly walked over to her house.  He told her husband "the next time you lay a hand on her, you will have a lot more than the police to deal with.  I will give this one moment for you to sober up and think about what you are doing to your wife and to your children".  He never touched her again. 
  • He never missed one school assembly, girl scout meeting, gymnastic practice, field trip.  When he did he was sick or like that one time during the gas crisis, he was in line for gas.  If he did miss any event he made sure to ask how it went.  He would listen and ask questions, and i knew he was really listening to me.
  • He was the funniest silliest person I knew.  We would laugh for hours sometimes because of something silly he would say to us.  I still remember him singing Oliva Newton Johns song "Heart attack" as "Fart Attack".  Hours and hours of entertainment with him.
  • He was the best story teller.  He could make a boring newspaper article come to life.  The tone in his voice, the added story lines.  He made me interested in the written and spoken word early in life for this reason.
I miss my Daddy everyday in different degrees of longing for him. He was just perfection to me even in imperfect situations.  For these reasons I find it hard to see being a father any less than what I was given. I have to cut Big Cheese some slack sometimes.  Daddy was a size 9 shoe, but boy those are some large size 9 shoes to fill. 
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