Not too long ago, I wrote about my father. He called me yesterday and asked if I was ready to hear his response yet. I said, “Sure.” I was curious. He actually read this to me over the phone. Can you say emotional? Between him choking up and me reaching for tissues…well, I’ll let you read it. He left this as a comment on the blog yesterday, but I’m elevating it to full-on blog post, baby! My comments are in GREEN.
Hi mi hijo,
After I read “My Foundation” I was crying for awhile, and so many memories to to my mind and heart. I remember how many of my plans (as a dad) for you suddenly collapsed right before my eyes. I figured maybe you would be a great soccer player. But, most of all, a martial artist that I could be teaching and coaching. (My Dad had a black belt in Hapkido and helped teach my older sisters how to defend themselves.) I could picture you and Alan in tournaments kicking ass everywhere; that we could go camping and hiking and adventuring. Those and many other plans.
But instead you were facing death too early in your life. I cried countless times in silence away from you. I wanted to take your place, but it’s obvious that you can’t always get what you want. The whole family became one heart and one soul for you.
I do regret that in taking care of you I neglected your brother, and he convinced himself that I did not love him; but God knows I always did love my sons. You were so fragile and Alan so strong to even defend you in school.
When Ofe (aka Ofelia, aka my lovely mom) and I were told that if we did not start the radiation and chemo ASAP you would die, our hearts were broken. We were so confused and scared. I blamed myself for a long time for what happened to you, until one doctor said, “This has occurred in couples where both parents never used or abused alcohol or drugs.”
Yes, mi hijo, your cross has been extremely heavy and your life an endless ordeal of frustration, pain, humiliations, disappointments, broken plans and dreams. But I am not the father you portray me to be. Many times I was very immature and egotistical, as well as irresponsible, and worried more about myself than my family. I wish I was like the Dad you described. Your mom Ofe always kept me in check, reminding me of my responsibilities and fatherly duties and praying for me to change my evil ways.
This time, in writing, I ask you and your brother and sisters to forgive me for all the times I was not there for you all; for all the times I failed you; for hurting you; for the wrong example I had given you.
Nowadays it breaks my heart to see my children away from God and it’s clear you did not see God in the midst of your home as you grew up. (Growing up, every Sunday my mom and grandma would ask the kids to go to mass at Mission Dolores Basilica. My dad would reply that mass was our choice and the kids didn’t need to be forced to go. Of course that meant we hardly went. At least I didn’t. And THAT is my dad’s guilt.) I blame myself and it still breaks my heart what I see today.
I want to thank the love of all my life: my wife for the last 37+ years. Please forgive me for all the times I hurt you and failed you. Ofe, you are the magic glue that kept our family together against all odds. You saved my life with you sacrifices and prayers.
Si, mi hijo, after all we did it. You are a living miracle. I want you to know that your suffering was the main inspiration for me to change my life.
By the way, you forgot to add “Classical music” to your list!
Thank you, God, for my family…for all my bunkers (A term of endearment):
May, Jessy, Thani, Chris, Alan.
Los amo con todo mi corazon! Tambien a todos los mini bunkers. (Translation: I love you with all my heart! Including the mini bunkers…grandkids).
P.S.: I hope and pray that someday I am able to lead you to the Father in Heaven, so you get to know him… to love him… to admire him… to seek him.
Beautiful, no? I like it. Can you believe he READ that to me first? Phew… As I said before, sure, Dad wasn’t perfect. But most of my memories begin with the cancer days. And from that point on… he was solid. Dad perfected the art of hiding his fear and anxiety in front of me. Bless him for that. It got me through.