My dad (and mom, but this is the Father’s Day edition) has been our (my sister and I) greatest cheerleader. Always there to support us in our endeavors. Always wanting us to be more. Always being a sounding board. Always being the rational voice when emotions become too much. Always being the life vest when I’m drowning. Always listening.
He never wanted us to settle. Never wanted us to depend on a man. He brought us up to be strong, independent women. He did this even though he was raised in a machismo type of home. His two sisters were to marry and have children, not go on to college as he and his three brothers did. Being raised in this type of home one would think he would follow this mentality, but he didn’t. He is so much more than his upbringing.
As an adult I can see all the small and large things he did to encourage us. When you’re young, some things may seem unfair or unnoticeable. Expecting good grades in school (I’m passing, why do I need a B, or an A even?) — it wasn’t so much the grades, but the value and importance of an education to support yourself. A three week summer European school trip I thought was just for fun. While it was fun, it taught me about travel, culture, and independence.
During my “I’m dropping out of college” time, he did not mail in an employment application I had filled out. If I was going to work full time, I should have been responsible enough to mail it out myself. Our deal had been if I got the job, I could quit college. The job interview never came. He has never admitted it, but I can guess what happened.
During college I looked forward to our monthly breakfast meetings at my favorite place, IHOP. When he would be in Austin for business meetings, I would come in from San Antonio just to meet him for breakfast and catch up. He would listen, advise, and we would both be on our ways. The real advice always came in mail form. I have a folder full of letters my father sent me. Each letter sent always had the same purpose –to help me grow. Some letters I hated reading, they weren’t what I wanted to hear (or read). Others filled me with tears because I was guilty of disappointing him. And yet others helped light the fire to boost me from whatever hole I had dug myself in.
His monetary sacrifices went unnoticed by a self-centered teen and young adult. The private school tuition, the college tuition (with no loans), new car for graduation, apartments, etc. . . he did not want us to experience being without because he grew up poor. He wanted more for us.
As an adult looking back, I can now clearly see how much my dad did for us and continues to do. When I had my daughter, my parents relocated to San Antonio to be closer to us. My dad was not yet retired, so he spent 9 years commuting four and a half hours weekly to his job. He would spend the weekends in Beaumont and weekends in San Antonio. All this travel so that he could spend as much time as possible with his granddaughter.
They are together almost daily since he picks her up from school 90% of the time. He experiences my daughter’s afterschool 6th grade drama chattiness. He will sometimes have to inform me of what is happening. She loves that he will listen to her music. She thinks he’s a “cool” granddad (guelo) since he likes some of her music and will let her friends know.
My dad is navigating a tough season right now, but he never seems to waiver. My mom was diagnosed with Stage 4 breast cancer last July. He has been reading medical, nutrition, and any other articles he can find on my mom’s type of cancer. He has changed her diet (more superfoods and eliminating “bad” food), taken her to every appointment, checked her chemo bags to ensure no mistakes are being made, etc. He does all this and continues to the best dad and greatest granddad.
He just does all this. No bells and whistles. No look at what I did or am doing. He quietly moves through life elevating all the females in his life to achieve more. I need him to know I see all he does. I am most grateful for his continued guidance and support. I have truly lucked out in the father category.
Going through my letters, I picked a few of my dad’s wise words:
• We emphasize studies, but you should realize that the issue of study is synonymous to the words “future” and “career.”
• You have to learn priorities and have the willpower to carry them through . . . you cannot let emotions control your life cause you will surely lose. In this life, you have to choose what you will become and stick with it, make the tough decisions that will get you there.
• The key words to life are chances and mistakes. The less bad chances you take, the less mistakes you make.
• If in the day-to-day affairs you dwell on the negative (on what one does not have), you will not realize the potential you do have.
• You need to understand now (and not later) that a person’s worth is not measured by failures, because everyone fails at one time or another.
Tori Alvarez is a mom, wife, high school educator, and indie author of Naive in Love. This is her debut novel which can be found exclusively on Amazon and in Kindle Unlimited. You can follow her adventures in life on Instagram or Facebook @mstorialvarez.