Happy Fathers Day to fathers everywhere! This fathers day post is coming from the view and experience of a daughter and the observation of a wife and mother.
When I was a brand new mother and I didn’t have the care and help of my own mother, hijole, I felt pretty abandoned. Mi ama wasn’t going to watch to make sure I was eating plenty of atole blanco to produce the needed milk for my big boy. She wasn’t gonna be there to help my healing process, she had been a strong believer in “la cuarentena” 40 days of my ama’s watchful eye, not for me. My apa had moved on after mom, I didn’t think I could count on him. When I was little, he provided for my needs and well I was a big girl now.
Pero! Gracias a Dios, somehow God put it in his heart to come to the hospital and see us. Oh how my heart exploded with emotions when I saw my apa. I was so anxious for him to meet his grandson, I was anxious about how he saw my gringo husband as a father and I was anxious for him to approve of me in this; motherhood. So much was happening in those days, the visit was so quick, he held his little gringo grandson and loved him and then he was gone. I don’t remember if I thanked him properly, I’ll have to do it when I see him again.
As a daughter, I’m grateful for my apas provision, it was no small task to take care of todo el bonche! But he did it! And I’m grateful for all the little things, he didn’t realize he did.
His playful pinches when we watched la tele. His display of the “conejos” in his strong arms as he flexed his muscles. He was the strongest apa in the world! His willingness to share his little watermelons from his small huerta. His quick response to attend to our school needs when he got a call. His admonitions to stay focused on what mattered in life. Todas estas cosas, all of these details made my heart appreciate him.
Now, let me indulge and talk about the father I’ve looked at for over 3 decades, my Cold Blooded Englishman, el amor de mi vida. My steady Ben when the waters were rough, my steady flaco when the waters were shallow. This is what I’ve seen almost always, even when I didn’t want to see it. One of the tricks to his patience may be that he’s a man of few words. He holds his tongue and words don’t cut. He’s patient with his family, even when it doesn’t look like it. He’s pretty handy, siempre digo, “Ben can fix anything” and so he helps us when we call, and others too. He’s consistent and that makes for a stable home. Perhaps the most telling observation is how much his kids respect him and honor him because they love and appreciate him back.
Fathers are critical in families. If you’ve got a father, grandfather, tio, father figure, that has invested in your life, go ahead and give them that deserved appreciation. If you haven’t had a ‘father’ invest in you, pues, you can, the most important Father is our Abba Father in heaven, he is more than willing to be your Apa.
Fathers Day is tomorrow, it has been creeping up and almost catching me unawares.
As I’m sitting here pondering my dad and the dads I know, I’m leaning toward writing about a dad and his girl/s. I wish you could see my son with his 3 girly girls. He’s a tough daddy, a busy guy, but not too busy to take his little ladies on a date. I’ve got a kind hearted nephew who patiently chases after his tough tiny little dynamite Rosalie with her little sister in his arms. I’m not sure what amazes me more, his consistent patience or her endless energy.
Watching my Benjamin and the one little princess who quietly tamed the males in her home and her hardnose mama has been intriguing and sometimes frustrating, afterall I’m the queen of my home…Verdad que si?
Hats off to Dads
I’m so grateful for fathers who put their hands to the plow. Providing, praying, playing, platicando and just plain participating in the lives of their children
From what I can tell, dads have an interesting dilemma in their hands. They’ve got to be generous, gentle, protective and they’ve got to be tougher, smarter and faster than anyone else’s dad, hands down! For the record, my apa was.
The Value of Words
My dad wasn’t a man of too many words. He said what he needed to say and rarely did he repeat himself. He didn’t pull out useless degrading words to accuse us with, but on the other hand, words of endearment for us were not heard from him. That was my norm, it was ok, until I became my Benjamins. I didn’t realize how much I truly did yearn for words of endearment and words of approval, quizás un poco exagerada with my need for them.
As an adult, words are my commodity. Bad words and name calling are worthless, so I don’t carry them in my vault, except maybe to call myself a mensa, not good, I’m sure God doesn’t want to hear me calling myself a dummy. Good words of appreciation are valuable to me and I make sure I use them generously as needed. Now, words of endearment are like costly jewels, I do have a wealth of them in my heart and my mind, but it costs me a lot to hand them out. Esperate, it’s not because I don’t want to, I’m just afraid they’ll get thrown or lost in a bin of multitudes of words. I didn’t realize how much I truly did yearn for words of endearment and words of approval, yet it’s when I don’t get them from my loves that I realize I need them, me entiendes? My Benjamin shows me everyday that he loves me by his actions. His willingness to care for me and our kids, his patience to help, ves? But when he looks at me and tells me, “I love you Rosie” Hijole! That cold blooded Englishman steals my heart again and again.
Learning to Appreciate
I’m very thankful for my apa. In his old age and in my “mature” years, I’ve been able to look past the days of trouble and appreciate the earthly father God gave me.
For too long I saw his terrible shortcomings and focused on things that I didn’t get from my apa. Now that my apa is gone, now that I’m not too busy taking care of him, I can look back and see what he did give me and I appreciate him.
I know now that I would have loved to hear these words from my apa “Si hija, te aprecio mucho” It was a bit awkward to even write it. Pero, I’ve also learned that his part in my life demonstrated his love and care and I’ve chosen to embrace the love he offered and put it on like a comfortable mantle.
Now I can look back into my experiences with him and see his love for me. Mira, I’ll show you 🙂
Middle School rite of passage
Middle school was a hard season, hay si! Picture every middle schooler in America feeling my extreme pain right now. Let me fill you in, I was desperately and hopelessly in love with a boy who didn’t even know I existed since 5th grade. 3 años! Then, ALL my friends we’re all grown up, they were real teens, I hated when one of my friends said “Oh my god! I’m gonna die, I started my period today” and another said, “Oh I know, I was so bloated last week, all I wanted to eat was limon and chile” I would roll my eyes, so jealous for those terrible pains. Ya se, ya se, there had to be something wrong with me. I was probably the only 13 year old and eighth grade girl in the whole world that didn’t have a period. It was so humiliating when the girls would look at me and ask me with their eyes if it had come and immediately their eyes would pity me. Sometimes we would discuss the whole matter, describing their first cycle, telling me what to expect and what to do. I didn’t want to hear it.
And so it was that I suffered like this well into the school year. Now that I think of it, my poor ama! 4 feisty lil latinas to raise. Patty & I gave up watching for the possible symptoms.
One morning as I dressed for school I fed my moodiness thoughts about how terrible life was treating me. My red polyester dress pants matched my red angry mood. Argh! And that day, the pants were quite apretaditos. I wanted a reason to skip school, but no, what if today would be the day the love of my life noticed me? I walked to school lost in my touchy thoughts. It turned out to be another long hot unnoticed day.
After lunch, we were back in our homeroom classroom. I could hear my dad saying “Para acabarla de amolar”! And to make matters worse, we were having a test. Hot sweaty, sticky, pero I finished my test and got up to turn it in. When I walked back, my friend whispered that I had sat in something, my pants were wet. I turned around and rushed to the teacher for permission to go to the bathroom. I was ready to die! Why in the world hadn’t I noticed? What did I sit in? Ya saben right? My long awaited visitor showed up. Wow! How could I even welcome her with this mess in my hands? I couldn’t go back to the class, I needed to get home? But how? Everyone would know.
I rushed to the nurses office and told her my terrible dilemma. No catching her breath in an “Oh my” She asked how I felt and started trying to figure out how to get a hold of my apa.Que?! Oh no. He worked for the city, he was busy. They just needed to find my big sis Marina. She would take care of this. Worst case scenario was that since I was feeling fine I could walk home alone, she could lend me a sweater from the lost and found to wrap around my waist. I sat there feeling quite miserable, knowing dad wasn’t gonna come, then he walked in. My apa looked at the nurse and thanked her and didn’t ask her any questions. He looked angry, but then again we Zepedas always look angry. I tried not to look at him, I just got up and walked out with him and hopped into his truck. I was worried he would see my stained pants. We had a 5 minute drive to the house, the longest drive de mi vida! He finally asked “Que paso?” and looked over at me. This very brown girl turned dark pink with humiliation! I didn’t know how to tell him, by this point in my life I was a liar and never had any problem making things up. But the dark pink face told another story. “Se mojo el pantalon” Like my pants walked over to a puddle and got wet all on their own. He knew, and he didn’t look angry anymore. That was it. He dropped me off at home and had to get back to work, his break was short. I was relieved, he knew and accepted my story. I was happy, I was an official girl teen, pimples and feminine napkins and everything else!
My ama was surprised, then worried to see me. The “not talking about your period or any femine issues” taboo talk is probably for another conversation, even now I can hear her say “de esas cosas no se hablan”. Somehow like we “women” do, we communicated with our eyes and she provided what I needed for this very important passage.
I never forgot this moment with my apa, but only these days have I been able to grasp the covering of love my apa gave me that school day, in this small detail, which was HUMUNGOUS for me, with very few words he participated in this growing up passage of my life.
The Gift of Healing
Sabes, he has given me, given us, my siblings too, some more invaluable words and a view of what his heart was experiencing as he transitioned into the very difficult tercera edad.
Very slowly I’ve been gleaning still through his belongings and his paperwork and to my delight I discovered some of his journal pages. Refreshing, like our San Diego breeze.
His life turned upside down at 80, otra vez, I’ll have to tell you in a different conversation about his 80th year. It seems that he tried to cope with the difficulties through journaling. He wrote on his 81 birthday “This year was very hard for me because of the things that happened to my body…Thank God that he helped me so much. Also, I’m very grateful with all my children who all gave me their support and help”
Can you feel what this dramatic latina felt when she read those words of approval and appreciation she longed for? I am shouting on the mountain tops, telling the whole world, my apa wrote, bien clarito, about his appreciation for us.
My apa has given me a valuable gift of words this fathers day, written in his own script.
Feliz Dia de los Padres!!
Happy fathers day to all fathers and men who step in the gap to fill those fatherly needs. A personal hats off to daddys who give a part of themselves to their little girls, press on, don’t let their dramatics intimidate you, hopefully and thankfully we grow up to appreciate our apas.