Q: Do you ever read self-help? Anything you recommend?
A: I’m a self-help queen, dedicated to continuous improvement. I read books about problems I...
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.