Tag Archives: fatherhood

But Why Do You Do It?

13 Apr

I always get a little nervous before it happens.

Anything can happen … and some people don’t make it.

I’m lucky.

Knock on wood. I don’t want to jinx myself.

But it’s an important day for me, may be not for my entire family, but definitely for me.

Well … why do you do it?  I mean I understand it’s a race and it’s for charity, but why do you do it? Why do you have to climb all those stairs?

No one had ever asked me that. They seemed to understand the why and the girl asking me also seemed to understand the why, it’s for my Dad. She was just confused as to the why of the location. Why scale 1,393 steps? Why go up 63 floors in the name of the American Lung Association?

It’s a metaphor, I thought.

It’s for all those people who couldn’t breathe, who felt the heaviness in their chest, the gasping for air, and the claustrophobic sense of not getting enough oxygen. It’s putting yourself in their position, in people like my dad, who died from Interstitial Lung Disease, or people with COPD, or lung cancer, or asthma. It’s putting yourself in their shoes and fighting your way past the challenges. It’s about feeling an ounce of what they feel and rising to the top, because they fight for every breath, just like we’d be doing.

It’s hard. But that’s probably why I do it, and why it makes me nervous. The difficulty level of it all. But it’s also the reason why I get the strength to go forward, because I got him in my heart. I got him on my shoulder. I got him and other supporters watching my back and cheering me on from a far. It’s hard but I got a good reason behind my motivation.

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For the sixth year in ‘ll be taking on the Fight for Air Climb this Saturday, racing 63 stories, 1,393 steps, in hopes of raising enough money to help others suffering from lung disease.

It’s 1,393 steps. And I feeeeeeeeeeeeeeeel them every single one of them when I climb. But I make it to the top, scared, nervous, or Gatorade-Commercial ready. I make it because I think of the  1,393 times my Dad was there for me, when I was in diapers, or the 1,393 times he was there for me when I was kid, or the 1,393 times he was there for me when I was away in school. He was there … the good, the bad, and the ugly he was there. And that’s not to say that we had our fair share of blowouts, we probably had 1,393 arguments, but he was still my Dad and still my friend. And that’s why I climb.

I climb to honor his memory, his hard-working life to provide a better future, his tireless days of clocking in and out of a job he may not have dreamed of, but showed up because it’s what helped keep us afloat.

So why do I do it?

I climb because everything I am I owe to him, and it’s the very least I could do.

Buen Camino my friends!!





Detour With Dad

20 Jun

You got the backseat drivers. The play-by-play commentators. The Kung-Fu grip holders that grasp to the armrests for dear life even when you’re just driving 20 miles per hour. You have the I-would-have-gone-down-3rd-street instead passengers. The heavy-sighers. The AY! AY! AY! SLOW-DOWN passengers that raise your blood pressure.

You’ve had them all in your car. You sit there, gripping the steering wheel and closing your eyes thinking of your happy place. You’ve come to the realization that driving with your parents is one of the most stressful outings of your life, and it will continue to be.

But I’ve got to say that throughout my entire directionally challenged driving existence, my dad never once got road rage crazy or analytical when I drove the car. I remember every wrong turn, bad parking job, and over-the-speed limit excursion and none of those would burst my Dad’s bubble.

He’d keep a cool head and just look out the window as he listened to his jazz music. Even when there were crazy, inconsiderate, reckless drivers out there igniting road rage along their path, my dad would never honk for hostility’s sake. If he ever used the horn it would always be for the don’t-crash-into-me reason, and as Father’s Day rolls around this weekend I was thinking of one our famous driving adventures. I imagine someone else would have never let me hear the end of it, but not my dad …



I had just graduated college, and the whole family had driven up to help me pack up my stuff. My Dad and I decided to take the ginormous U-haul, while my cousins, aunts, and mom decided to take the giant SUV. As we drove down the freeway, we hit a fork in the road and while my relatives took highway 580, we ended up taking highway 880, which I swore was the right way back home. I mean I would know seeing how I had lived up there for four years. Why wouldn’t I know? But apparently two hours later we found out my internal GPS was not working properly.

After checking out our Rand McNally map, my Dad realized we were in the middle of farm country and at least an hour and half away from the right freeway. We pulled into a farm bought something to eat, and then took our bag of dried apricots on the road for dessert. I was feeling pretty crappy about the whole delay. I had just graduated and I couldn’t even figure out how to get home. And before you get all crazy on me this was before electronic GPS was invented, we were old school. We used maps.

But apparently I was so confident I hadn’t even looked at the map. I was down on myself, feeling pretty anxious and stressed out about the lecture I was gonna get.

Did my Dad freak out? Did he yell at me? Did he storm off in an outburst of profanity? Was he burned out? Did he get upset about all the gas we wasted? Was he freaking out because we weren’t making good time?

“Well,” he said laughing and shaking his head, “looks like we’re out on an adventure!”

I smiled.

He patted me on the shoulder and then smiled back.

“But don’t tell your mother.”

I nodded. It would be an adventure, a very scenic one through farm country and windy roads.

And to this day no one really knew why we were so late. It had always been our secret. When we got home and they asked us what happened, my Dad said he had left his wallet at a Denny’s and we had to drive all the way back to get it.

He took the fall for me, so I wouldn’t get sassed and made fun of by the rest of my family. I was exhausted after the long drive back, but still very grateful that my Dad had been my copilot that day. He was later promoted to head pilot.

Out of all the detours in my life, I always remember that one.

Thanks Dad. I love you and I miss you.

Happy Father’s Day.






To All The Dads …

15 Jun






Having a Foster Farms Moment

19 Mar

It’s been official for about three months now. But it just hit me.

I’ve had his personal belongings. I’ve had his paintings, artwork, and calendars. I’ve had his green cap that hung on the door hook. I’ve had his black Parker pens he kept in the cup. I’ve had our childhood pictures he kept on his desk. I’ve had the wrinkled postcards I sent him from Hawaii and Australia. I’ve had his black Samsonite briefcase. I’ve had all these things … but it just hit me.

I stood there in the meat section of the supermarket contemplating a poultry purchase that never came to pass. It hit me … in all my years of adulthood, I’ve never had to buy chicken … ever.

It has been one of the perks of being in this family. Free chicken. Since 1987 I’ve had that privilege, but after my Dad passed away in 2010, running the business became a little too stressful for my mom, so she decided to sell at the end of last year. And with this sell, one of the last remaining ties I had with my Dad was severed.


So it wasn’t really a strange thing for me to have a moment in front of the refrigerated Foster Farms chicken breasts, although the lady in the black running tights and tangerine jacket seemed to think I was a little off. I remembered all the times my Dad, sporting his white butcher coat and apron, stood behind the counter slicing and dicing with his such precision. I remember the sound of the blades scraping against the knife sharpener stick before he began. I thought about how he engaged in conversations with his customers and laughed it up with friends over coffee.

Here's my Dad, starting out in the business, almost the same age that I am today.

Here’s my Dad, starting out in the business, almost the same age that I am today.

I remember getting behind the counter at 15, my first job, trying to slice and dice and all I did was worry my Dad, because I did not inherit his awesome Ninja knife skills. I had the wash the windows and clean the floors skills. Most chics get a quinceanera as a right of passage when they turn 15. I got a white apron.

I remembered all the Thanksgivings and the hundreds of free-range turkeys that surrounded me in the Rocky-style refrigerator. I remembered the paperwork and hundreds of orders I had to match up with our inventory. I remembered the white butcher paper the chicken was wrapped in … it looked nothing like the yellow Styrofoam and plastic wrap in front of me.

I never thought I’d miss chicken.

There were plenty of times when I got tired of it. I could probably write a cookbook with 101 ways to cook chicken that would rival the shrimping recipes Bubba was laying out for Forrest Gump. Not to mention the turkey. But I guess it’s like anything in life, you don’t really miss it until it’s gone.

So I stood there in the meat section of the Vons and just couldn’t do it. I needed something in white butcher paper. But everyone appeared to be on break, so I headed for the pasta aisle.

Chicken tomorrow.


It Was A Good Laugh … Had To Be

30 Jan

It’s the one day a year I drink a cup of coffee and try to remember what his laugh sounds like.

I’m a tea drinker, and probably the only person on Earth that doesn’t stop by at Starbucks in the morning for a cup of coffee, but thought it might help jog the memory.

I don’t have it.

There’s evidence of it in plenty of Kodak moments and Polaroids, and I can picture it in my head. But I can’t hear it. I think it’s one of things I miss most about him. I miss hearing him crack up at one of my jokes, or at my awesome dance moves.

I can’t remember what his laugh sounds like. That’s sort of an important thing to someone like me.

I’m lucky though I still know what his voice sounds like. I turn to my 2004 Panasonic cordless phone answering machine from Costco. It has 11 messages, 9 are from him. Eight of them are calling to say hi, the ninth one is him calling from the hospital asking me when I’d be showing up. I hear the messages over and over again just trying to get his voice to stay in the room and maybe it will jog my memory to the sound of his voice when he laughed and how it changed.

No such luck today.

But I still remember what he smelled like. I have his last two bottles of Jovan Musk aftershave. I open them up in the morning and after I put the kids to sleep. Just sat there in the closet surrounded by all his white shirts, pants, and polos, smelling the aftershave.

But no laughter.

I still remember what was close to his heart. I have the black Samsonite work briefcase he carried with him at all times — the one I thought carried contracts, shipping orders and important payroll and tax papers for the poultry shop. We realized after his passing that it wasn’t filled with those things, but with the birthday cards and Father’s Day Cards we had given him throughout the years. But he had no pictures of himself in there.


My dad at work, some famous Hawaiian BBQ place out here. Always in his Hawaiian shirts.

My dad in his prime at one of his first jobs, some famous Hawaiian BBQ place out here. Always in his Hawaiian shirts.


So I took to the 1970s and 80s photo albums in the closet and checked out my dad in his prime. I searched my computer for some of my favorite pics. The ones with Hawaiian shirts. The ones of my childhood. The ones where I can feel him cracking up. And it makes me remember of an instance where he cracked up so hard he cried. Unfortunately I had no camera then. There were a few instances like that, but this one in particular happened in Guatemala and it involved a water slide.

Water slides do that sort of thing to you. They bring out the smile, the laughter and the fun. They bring out your inner pirate. They juice up your existence.

Doesn’t matter what age, that water raft spinning and swirling, swooshing and splashing you has that you-crack-me-up effect. Maybe it’s the fast-paced slide or the not knowing when a wave is going to splash you, or perhaps it was the height of the slope we swooshed down on, maybe it was a combination of all those things and the fact that my cousin was freaking out that made us laugh.

Whatever it was that was one of the times my dad laughed so hard he cried. That Guatemalan Raging Waters experience was memorable and I was glad to have been part of that. I was glad to have been part of one of his stories that begins with ‘you remember the time we …’

It was a good laugh. It had to be because I’ve spent all day trying to hear it.

It was important to try to hear it today because he would have been 66 years old today.

But even though I may not have seen it on videos, because he was always the cinematographer of the family back when VHS existed, always behind the scenes, I was still able to find glimpses of his laughter through old family pictures.


On a Bucket List Adventure.

On a Bucket List Adventure … in Guatemala


So I go to bed feeling a little better.

Happy birthday, Dad. I miss you. Hope you liked your cake this year. I made it from scratch. German Chocolate. I had a big piece.



Hanging out with my dad back in the day.

Turkeys, Man Hands, and Remembering Dad

30 Nov

I have to agree with Garth Brooks … I’m too young to feel this damn old.

BenGay, Advil, and Sal de Uvas (a.k.a. the Latino world’s Alka-Selzer magic). All of these were a part of my life this week. Young people don’t feel the need to use these items in one week. However, they were my bare essentials everyday Thanksgiving week. I was thankful for Friday. My body was thankful.

Backaches, headaches, heartaches, and heartburn … you would think I was already pushing senior citizenship status. And my hands. Dude. My hands. In truth I would never be a hand model, and I was O.K. with that. But the fact that I had Man Hands this week made me little sad. Not just any Man Hands, but carpenter, fisherman, cracked, chapped, worn-out and in desperate need of that Neutrogena Hand Cream kind of Man Hands. Sandpaper Man Hands. But since Neutrogena was nowhere to be found at the CVS, I had to settle for Aquaphor.

Yeah. That was me. Beat up, tired, smelling of poultry and trying to fight back the effects of weather and age.

Thanksgiving week … it kicked my ass. It meant working at my Dad’s poultry shop without my Dad and surrounded by hundreds of boxes of Diestel Free-Range Turkey. Boxes that needed to be inventoried and moved. And inventoried and moved. And inventoried and moved. All in a 35 degree refrigerator weather. For all of you on The East Coast, that’s probably normal weather now. But for this Cali girl, that arctic environment wreaked havoc on my extremities. So much so that I didn’t even post regularly this week. My body gave in to sleep and a vegetative state on the couch.

The Gobble-Gobbles that created my Man Hands

The Gobble-Gobbles that created my Man Hands

The Gobble-Gobble Madness took it’s a toll.

But not everything was back-breaking work. Looking at my worn out hands made me think of my Dad and all the years he spent at the shop, all the years with his awesome knife skills and warm personality that could withstand even the bitchiest of customers. I remembered his hands, they looked nothing like mine, even though he worked harder than I did. He had not cuts and or need for Aquaphor. He was Dad.

I remembered his long white butcher coat and his white pants. I remembered his blue sweater vest that he used to keep himself warm, and the blue Diestel Turkey Ranch cap with the “Be Nice” button pinned on it. I remembered and it made sad. It made my heart hurt because my Dad, my friend, was longer there.

I never looked forward to working Thanksgiving week before because I knew how hard and cold it would be. I knew of all the details of inventory, and hours in the arctic temperatures. I knew what I would have to endure. But after my dad’s passing a couple of years ago, I think about it often and it’s not that bad any more.

Every day this week, I picked up his sweater vest from my closet, held it tight and then zipped it up. I opened one of his last bottles of aftershave and took a whiff. I grabbed his Diestel Turkey Ranch cap and put it on. Turned on his truck and drove to work. I didn’t mind coming home and smelling like poultry. I didn’t mind the inventory and tracking the 10-12, 12-14, 14-16, 16-18, 18-20, 20-22, 22-24, 24-26, 26-28, 28-30, and 30+ birds. I didn’t even mind the Man Hands I had acquired.

This just gave me a chance to be close to my Dad again. It reminds me of old times. It gave me a dose of an everyday-past that I didn’t know I would miss so much every year.

So at the end of the week,  I looked at my Man Hands, and remembered my Dad. He’d probably laugh and say … you should’ve worn gloves.

Ahhhhh. Dad. I miss you. I miss you much, my friend.


My Dad ... on one of the few days he wasn't wearing a cap.

My Dad … on one of the few days he wasn’t wearing a cap.



For My Friend …

4 Oct

Today I saw another daughter weep for her dad and it reminded me of my own loss.

And it wasn’t just that he was a good person who tried his best with what he had, it was because he was dad. Fathers perform random acts of kindness. They love to laugh. They believe in you and your dreams. And they teach you something. Being a dad … that’s what made him special, that’s what made him different. And I know that’s how my friend felt about her own father. So tonight I send her good vibes, prayers, and strength.






Stupid Ricky Martin

25 Sep

Livin’ La Vida Loca CD

I hadn’t given him any thought in years.


But a friend of mine recently lost her father, and after talking to her, trying to comfort her, I remembered my own loss, which happened a couple of years ago. And all the feelings came rolling in. That’s when Ricky Martin resurfaced.

Pinche Ricky Martin.

There’s a point in everyone’s life when you realize that your parent was trying to do something nice for you, trying to perform an act of kindness. There are times when you get it. You realize that it is happening and you appreciate it and hug it out. This was not one of those times.

This was the time when I was a jackass.

A jackass.

Luckily I corrected my mistake so that ugly window didn’t last long, but still … still I was a jackass for a couple of minutes and that wasn’t cool and for some reason that memory seems to stick with me whenever I see Mr. Livin’ La Vida Loca.

Everyone has an I-love-this-singer-so-much-that-I’m-going-to-marry-him phase. Yeah I was in college. I had dreams and I was going to be Mrs. Enrique Iglesias. He had just come out with his first CD and you know when people sing in Spanish the meaning seems to be even deeper. I had gone to three of his concerts that semester, listened to his CD over and over, and knew all the words to his songs. I was hooked.

He was my man.

So when I came home to celebrate my birthday that summer, I had a little shindig with my family and a couple of friends. My dad came home from work, exhausted, but still managed to smile, pat me on the head, and wish me a happy birthday. He set down his briefcase, opened it up and handed me a small gift.

It looked like a CD. I was excited. My dad smiled. Had to be his new CD. I unwrapped it and there he was staring at me …

Mr. Cup of Life

Ole, Ole, Ole.

Ricky Martin.


I was so not excited and had the “Oh…um….thanks” look on my face. And then my dad’s smile faded into confusion. “That’s your guy, right?”

And you know what I said? Do you know what I said? Instead of saying thank you, instead of smiling and giving him a hug and appreciating the effort you know what my ding-ding knucklehead brain said?

“Oh, Dad … this is not Enrique Iglesias.”

“It’s not?”

And as soon as I said it, I wanted to kick my own ass.

I visualized my dad at the Tower Records browsing through the Latin Heart Throb music section, probably being the only white-haired bald dude in his late fifties hanging out in that aisle. I pictured him confused and trying to decide which CD out of all of them was not on my shelf. All the hunks look the same.

I pictured him standing in line behind a couple of kids, who were probably looking at him strangely as he proudly held onto that Ricky Martin CD. I pictured the clerk giving my dad the one-eyebrow raise as he happily paid for my present. I pictured my dad patting himself on the back on a job well done.

These images flashed before my eyes.

“No dad it’s not. It’s Ricky Martin and it’s an awesome CD. Thanks dad! Thanks.”

I gave him a hug.

The CD still sits in my collection.  


Thinking of My No.1 Fan on Father’s Day

16 Jun




Me and pop stylin' in the 70s

Me and pop stylin’ in the 70s … even back then he always had my back.


Happy Father’s Day