I spent a lot of time these past few days thinking about my dad (obviously) and what I might say about him that I haven’t already said.
My relationship with my father has evolved a lot in my life. I was a Daddy’s girl when I was younger, especially since between the parental split, I tend to look a tiny bit more like my father (though I’m a pretty solid mix of both).
In high school, my Dad was both one of my loudest cheerleaders and also my fiercest opponent. We were so similar, that it caused us to butt heads occasionally about things we disagreed on, or put him in a tough place when I did stupid things like sneak my Mormon boyfriend over to the house (Boy, you were right there, Dad).
Now, in college and beyond, my Dad often acts as both a friend and spiritual adviser (not that my mom isn’t spiritual nor is she bad in any way at advice, but this is a father’s day post so let’s all be cool guys). Since my dad and I are so similar, we tend to have similar values. This means my dad can often hear me out on a problem and give me something akin to what-me-thirty-years-from-now might say about how to handle it.
So, clearly my father has shaped a lot in my life. Not just the high standard I hold for myself (and the men in my life), but also the abundance of lessons and advice he has given me over the years.
So I was thinking about my dad, and what qualities still pop up about him, and I laughed to myself and thought, My dad is just so weird.
Let me explain, because I definitely never mean it in a bad way. My dad grew up in Pico Rivera, CA, a city South East of Los Angeles. In a world that had (and still has) pretty set stereotypes for Latin men, my Dad (at least to my knowledge) has never really pushed himself to fit into them. He loves cars, but his passion for them is less in American muscle and more in European race cars. He reads and watches quite a bit of science fiction— his third date with my mom was to see Star Wars, and those of you who know me know that my love for Star Trek is firmly rooted in hours as a child watching Star Trek: TNG. In a world that expected Latin men to be not-so-great at education, my dad earned a BA in Latino studies, a BS in Biology, is an MD in Mexico and a PA here in the states. My dad never ceases to make me laugh, because he is so completely and unabashedly himself.
As a Latina-Filipina-who-most-looked-Mexican growing up in a mostly-White suburb, there were a lot of a times where I was stereotyped quite a bit myself. It was both the strong modeling and firm push from my dad to defy stereotypes and not be afraid to “prove them wrong.” Once, I was fighting with some girl at school, and said I wanted to do something mean to her (I legitimately can’t remember). I distinctly remember my dad saying, “She’s not worth it. You can prove her wrong, but don’t go down to her level to fight with her. We’re above that.”
This Father’s Day, I am both grateful and in awe of the man who somehow subtly and quietly educated my brother and I to just keep doing us. It absolutely set the standard for who we are today. He not only gave me the space as I still try and navigate who I am, but is also always there cheering me own to unabashedly be that person, no matter what is expected.
Happy Father’s Day, Daddy.
I’ve written a lot about my dad before.
This father’s day, much like the Mother’s Day I experienced last month, is the first I will ever not physically be with my dad. This is nuts to me. Fortunately, both my parents come out here in a few weeks (!!!), so that eases the pain a little.
I’ve been thinking a lot about this word I learned in Hawaiian: Kahua. Kahua means “foundation,” (it’s also an awesome program our 2012 TFA HI CMs will get to be a part of!).
My relationship with my parents has certainly evolved in the past few days since I moved out here. I can no longer go home every week like I used to to see them. Though we talk nearly-daily, it’s not always as easy, since out time zones are so different. I am gaining a level of independence that was part of the reason I moved out here.
In that independence, though, I have learned just how much of an amazing foundation both my parents built for my brother and I— not just physically and financially, but emotionally, intellectually, and spiritually. My dad built a few foundations that have hugely influenced the person I am now.
Use Your Words
My mother taught me how to use quiet strength, my father taught us how to weave stories with words. My dad, always a storyteller, passed down bits of oral family history that stick with me to this day.
In addition to that, my dad taught me that not only was good writing important, but that it took work. I remember some yellow book about writing and connotation that my dad had when he was working on something growing up. My dad was already a good writer, but just seeing him take the time to take out a book and, in that way, show we are always learning, has stuck with me to this day. He is always pushing himself to learn more and be better, despite his success. He showed us that having the courage to admit “I don’t know” or “I’m not always great at that,” is often what will push you to grow to be a better person. That kind of drive is what pushes my brother and I to continually get better at what we love.
Finally, and especially now that I’m older, my dad is not afraid to talk about things with my brother and I. We’ve had honest, open discussions about everything form religion to politics, and I know that my dad will have a real but passionate discussion with me about the issues. He knew that, if he talked with us, we would all grow closer and learn.
We Are What We Do
My dad is a doctor in Mexico and a Physician’s Assistant here in the states. He’s way smart. He’s good at what he’s done too— he’s won multiple awards for the work that he’s done. He could work a good solid day, go home, and know that he has provided for his family and himself and leave it at that.
He doesn’t, though. My dad consistently models the need to give back to those around us, and in turn, taught my brother and I to do the same. He does charitable work often, is a teacher for residents at his clinic, and is involved with Latino Health Access. One weekend, I found out randomly that my mom and dad were in the Coachella valley, administering care to farmworkers. It’s never ostentatious or showy— my dad doesn’t even tell us he’s doing it (I had no idea until I was much older). He does it because he knows it’s right.
Love Is Strength
I’ve definitely written about this before too, but my dad wears his heart on his sleeve. He is never scared to show us emotion, or to unabashedly tell us that he loves us. I have never once wondered if my dad was on my side: it was a given (even when being on my side wasn’t the easiest things to do). That brings a kind of power that allows you to love yourself too. Especially as I’ve gotten older, having an incredibly loving father who always made it known that I was not alone is likely what has given me the strength to stand up what I want too.
There are a million more things my dad taught me, but in building those fundamental foundations, I know that my father’s hands, forever felt on my back guiding me and protecting me, are will also always be holding me up as well. Happy Father’s Day, Daddy. I sure do love you.
Really though, how did I get so lucky? Even in a time of stress and sadness, my heart is always smiling.
Charles R Swindoll (via Daddy)
When I was 5, my dad put up this poster by my bed. It had an Eagle.
Anyway, he did a pretty good job of drilling into me, because now that + “You can let it fail you, or you can let it fuel you” are pretty much how I look at life. So, thanks Daddy. <3
I’ve written a lot about my Dad in the past, mostly on Father’s day. I didn’t this year, really only because my Dad and I have such a better relationship now.
I’ve been catching up on “This American Life.” The Father’s Day 2011 episode reminded me that Dads show love in all kinds of different ways. Mine has quite a few, including providing us with a great eduction and always being an advocate for whatever my brother and I dreamed of doing.
Still, to my own, a very belated bit of gratitude: thanks for loving us unabashedly, even when it was hard, & doing so without restraint. It is what challenges me to try and love the special people in my life with that same courage.