Wednesday, March 7, 2012
The Father I Know; the man I want to be
This is not an episode of Glee, where there is a big dramatic climax filled with some reinvented 80's/90's pop song ballad, and people holding hands and saying "It Gets Better" (...but it does get better, trust me.) My father and I had an alright relationship. He wasn't too involved in what I did, he did the obligatory violin recitals, took us to the park, and made sure we had what we needed. But my dad and I lacked the communication of a father and son, or at least the communication I perceived we should have (damn telenovelas!) There was no sitting down, telling me about the birds and the bees, and that when I grow up I would need to make sure to put on a condom. He didn't show me how to change my oil or repair a flat if I ever found myself on the side of the road wearing my Prada loafers and Dolce and Gabbana shirt. Now, I don't blame him for not showing me that...after all my father gave me the life he never had. He wanted to make it as easy as possible for me.
After coming out, my father did a complete 180. He became very involved in where I was going and who I was going with. He wanted to know if I was dating anyone and most of all if I was happy. You see it took me moving out and establishing my own life, for my dad to communicate...and say, "Mijo, I love you and the man you have become." He told me he never once doubted me and what I would do in my life and that me graduating from both high school and college were the highlights of his life. You see my father never graduated from high school let alone middle school. So for him to see me studying all night, with my advanced Calculus books, Biology, Physics, and everything in between meant a lot to him because it is something he never got to do.
It took my dad breaking down emotionally (because we stopped talking for a year...difference, cheating, and me not forgiving him)...but it took him opening up and sharing his darkest secret to me...it took me 25 years to say, "Dad...I love you." No one should ever wait that long to hear it. Truth is I always loved my dad, I just didn't think that is what WE did.
I have seen my dad go through a lot. The loss of both his parents, the loss of three jobs, and the loss of his childhood in order to make money for his family and future. From his odd end jobs at the candle factory where he swore he saw the devil once to being a landscape supervisor and finally having an office job where he had his own secretary.
Growing up I always heard my dad put The Doors on the record player and old 8-tracks. I would watch him mimic the words, sometimes I wondered if he even knew what he was saying. There was a gleam in my dad's eyes, his youth shone through. He swayed back and forth, playing his air guitar or while working outside on some new cabinets he was making. Most people say, if you hear my dad laugh and speak...you hear me.
In an effort to capture my dad's lost youth, I was able to get tickets to see Wild Child, a tribute band to The Doors. It was my dad's 59th birthday and we had never experienced something together. My friends and I went and picked him up that evening and we drove over to The House of Blues in Anaheim where the band was playing. My dad was taken aback with the sights and all of the palm trees. He kept adding up the cost of each palm tree and how expensive one block would be...only my dad. We were waiting in line and my dad kept commenting that he didn't realize a lot of young people loved The Doors, followed jokingly by, "Do you think we could get some weed?" I had to explain to my dad that the last thing I wanted to do was get him high.
But, there we were standing in line. My dad looked so antsy, like a little child waiting in line to see Santa Claus, minus all the crying. His eyes kept darting back and forth, seeing all the people, inquiring why there were so many young people. He couldn't believe how many young people loved the sound and music of The Doors; a group he grew up listening to. I had to tell him that some music spans generations regardless of when it became popular. Before we knew it the line started moving. In we went, where we decided we all needed to take birthday shots. Right after that the beer started coming. My dad has never really seen me drink or even say a cuss word. One of the few things I have yet to ever do in front of my parents...I refuse to use such language in front of them. Mostly out of respect and well in my eyes I am still the little boy trying to make my parents proud.
Four beers in, the music is going. My dad and I are dancing, singing, yelling.....feeling and wanting more. Maybe it was the alcohol, but I looked over to my dad, and the look on his face, priceless.
When people tell me that I look and act like my dad...I get happy...because he is the ONLY man I ever wanted to be. Dad, I love you.