This Father’s Day coming up have set me to thinking about my Dad and what he meant to me. In reality, dad didn’t teach me anything like playing ball, dressing up, how to act and the likes. However, he did teach me to obey my mother. That was kind of hard because when we met I was already 6 years old and had been living with my mother at my grandparents’ house and my mother was sort of like a sister. My mother was 14 years old when they got married and I was just 1 month old. She had recently started living with my Dad. So, the relationship was not so solid.
Through the early years I remember one time when the river overflowed and we were stuck down close by the river. My dad carried me and my sister from the house up to my grandmother house away from the flow.
He worked across the river at a distribution warehouse where he bottled mustard, pickles and other items. He would bring the barrel’s home and we would have the extra mustard and pickles.
I started working selling and delivering newspapers at an early age but I was small and skinny. So, when I was delivering the Sunday paper, I couldn’t ride the bike because it was overloaded. My dad helped me out by going with me. After that, he suggested I quit that job.
Later on he contracted Tuberculosis and was sent to Mission, Texas for rehabilitation. After returning he started working on other jobs. I had grown up a bit and attending Lanier Jr. Hi. And during his absence had starting working on odd jobs with my uncle Ramon and a furniture company cleaning and painting ovens and steel bedframes. Dad wanted me to work with him painting cars but I just couldn’t do that kind of work. I lasted one day.
My introduction to 40’s music was when my mom would ask to go get my dad from the cantina. I would go and dad would sit me down and ask if I wanted a soda (hippo size). I sure did and they were playing, Benny Goodman on the juke box and I got accustomed to it and other musicians. This went almost every day while we were living in the barrio.
When I enlisted in the Army, my mom and dad saw me off at the bus depot and from then on until my retirement I never saw my Dad except when I got married and that was a very short time because I had to go back to Panama. We did come back on leave and saw the family but there wasn’t enough time to have a true relationship with my Dad. So, all through my army career, my dad was not in the picture.
My children brought me closer to my dad because he loved them even though they were never back home for a length time. Martin, my first born saw to that.
One day, after I had retired, I decided to go fishing to Port Aransas with him and my brother in law. During that time, I found that he had a sense of comedic humor which I had never seen. That humor continued on every time I visited him at the house. He always had a hearty laugh. He had a great relationship with his brothers and I would visit him at my uncle’s glass shop helping out. I began to see him as a more humane and an adoring grandfatherly figure.
In his last years we were able to relate a little more. We took him on a long car trip to San Diego, California to see his nephew. He enjoyed the trip even though the whole time he would be in a wheelchair.
Sadly, I stopped seeing him at the last due to his illness and I have regretted it ever since. I had seen him at his best and I didn’t want to see him struggling for life. I wanted to remember my father as a robust individual, full of life and happiness. I still recall his words when somebody takes a picture of him. He says “drink Miller Lite Beer” as he gives a toast to everybody.