My dad was a very wise, strong, stubborn man who always liked to offer his advice (when I didn’t want to hear it) and random knowledge about history (which I wasn’t interested in at all). But as I grow older I think to myself..wow, he was right!
My childhood was filled with lectures, promises, and threats, and they all seemed to work to keep me mostly out of trouble. What I didn’t listen to was the stuff he said that would mold my future.
Let’s start with the most mortifying experience I had as a child. Right before hitting adolescence, we had the good ol’ “Birds and the Bees” talk. I remember sitting there with my older brother at the kitchen table, and just living inside my head trying not to listen. I can’t tell you exactly what the conversation consisted of, but what I did take away from it was “if you get pregnant before you are way older and/or married ,I will disown you”. Well, the threat worked. I didn’t have my first child until I was 28. I know that if I did happen to become a teenage mom, he would still love me and his grandchild no matter what, but he was a serious man and I didn’t want to take that chance!
Fast forward to high school and when I was getting my license. My dad tried to take me out and teach me to drive, but he was a man with very little patience. We went to an industrial park on a Sunday (since there was no one on the road), and cruised down the side streets. I tried to take a turn without crossing my hands one over the other, and that was the end of it. Another time, he took me out to learn how to drive a standard. I drove pretty far and was proud of myself, but started to choke the clutch (i don’t even know if that’s a term, but that’s what it sounded like I was doing) at a stop sign. We both got fed up and I got back in the passenger seat. What I remember though, is that we were in a not so nice area of Providence, and while we were on the side of the road, a police officer pulled over. He had many questions for us. For those who don’t know me, I am half Mexican, but no one would ever know. I have light hair and blue eyes, but my dad however looks totally Mexican. Even though I was only 16, I had enough smarts to know that the police officer thought my dad was soliciting a prostitute (Me!). I never drove a standard vehicle again. What I am thankful for however, is that my dad made it a point to show me what was under the hood of the car, because he said “if you’re going to drive it, you are going to know how it works!” Well, one night I broke down in a sketchy area around midnight, and I was all alone. I remember my dad showing me the mechanics of the car and thinking how I could get this car to start. I reconnected a spark plug that came loose after hitting a good ol’ Rhode Island pothole, and on my way I went.
When it came time to think about college and a career, he told me that I should go to school to be a Sports Broadcaster. Back when I was in high school, there were maybe one or two female broadcasters around, and now there are so many. I should have listened. He also told me to go into Sports medicine, where I would make big bucks. I didn’t listen. I thought maybe he was telling me because he was such a big sports fan that he would reap the benefits of his daughter having the “in”. Well, here I sit, blogging for fun and hating my job!
When it came to boys, my dad had one rule and one rule only: Never call the boys, let them call you! Boy was he so true about that. How many nights I sat around waiting for a phone call being disappointed, but if they wanted to be with me they would have called. He told me to date the “nerds” in high school because some day they were going to make something out of themselves. Well, looking back, most of them did (and i have to admit, they are way more attractive now, and more so then some of the cute boys in HS). He also told me I was never going to find a rich man in Rhode Island. That is true. But I married a great man, who may not be rich but gives me everything I need. I know my dad is proud of him for taking care of his little girl.
We lost a great man 5 years ago this May. His words of wisdom live on. I have a little boy that I try to raise with the same values I was raised with. My dad was a HUGE Yankees fan (he was wise, remember?) and now my son will be too. Til the day he died, he coached and umped Little League for the Elmwood section of Providence. I can’t promise that my son will love baseball, but if his grandpa has anything to do with it, he will.
I have to give credit to my mom here of course. She gave us the nurturing that a mom should. She never let us go without anything, and on occassion would “hide” things from our Dad so that we didn’t get the dreaded lectures!
I think having such a strong male figure in my life has made me the independent and strong woman that I am today. I am thankful for that. At 34 years old, I still hear his words, and also hear him saying “you kids never listen”. But he was right, we didn’t.
I am listening now. He died suddenly of a heart attack, and it came as a big reality check as to how much we need to take care of ourselves. He never did. He was always too worried about others. So this one is for you dad. And as he would say “never say goodbye, it’s see you later”
Dad, I love you and I will see you later!