Tag Archives: Fathers and daughters

Sunday Morning … Remembering Your Pops…

20 Jun

Most of the time he would not take the day off. My dad used to work seven days a week for months on end. Then years later he realized that was bad for his health.

Workaholic. Part of the working-class mentality is having that drive, that work ethic to do the hard labor, to show up and take pride in what you do, and provide for your family.

But every once in a while he’d take a vacation though. Day trip, road trip here and there. Take a plane to Guate to visit his mom. He’d call her all the time but didn’t make a regular yearly trip to see her until I was in college. After years and years of hard work he learned that taking a day off was good for his mental well-being.

Monday’s and holidays. Those were his days off, the days he’d sleep in, maybe go to the driving range and hit a few. Go to the movies with my cousin, call to hang out with me, visit my uncle at the cemetery. Eat fried fish at the Marisco place down the street, the one that unfortunately is no longer there. I think the owner sold it a few years back and now it’s just something called a bistro, and the last time I heard of one of those was when Jack Tripper opened up one of his own after working at Angelino’s.

He’d still work on Sunday’s though, even if it was Father’s Day. So if I wasn’t working, I’d make the drive just to hang for a bit at the shop. Told him I’d buy him a cup of coffee. Talk about life. He’d laugh at the thought of his daughter talking about life over a cup of coffee, seeing how I did t drink coffee. But I’d do it anyway.

I’d tell him I’d see him later for dinner, which usually involved a steak, sometimes Italian food, but most of the time steak followed by Lakers game, Dodgers game or HBO.

Today’s the day to think of that. To think about the conversations I had but can’t quite remember, but knew I had them. Time to remember his smile and the feeling of hanging out, to remember his laughter, the smell of his musk aftershave, white collared shirts, and butcher’s coat. Time to remember the times he didn’t wear white, like when we used to go to plays and talk during the intermission, to remember the hard times and the good times, because there were both. Time to remember that 11 years ago, Father’s Day was the last time I had a conversation with my friend in a hospital room, that last time he’d talk back. I remember leaving the television on and telling the nurses not to change the channel because the World Cup was on and he loved watching it. He might not have been able to see it, but maybe he’d be able to hear the famous GOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOL! GOOOOOOOOOL QUE GOLAZO!

Most definitely.

It’s the day to celebrate and remember your dads. The ones that you were born with, the ones that saw you in diapers, and the ones who acted like your dad, encouraged you and supported you even if you weren’t related, they were still family. To brothers and uncles that had your back, to teachers and coaches that helped you when you needed it.

It’s tough being a good dad. Pressures weigh heavily on the shoulders of a family man, and not everyone is strong enough to fill that role. Not everyone can handle that. Now with raising my own family, I realize that. So it’s important to highlight the ones that do. To the ones that pay the bills and show up to soccer practice, and basketball games before beer with the guys, to the ones that are there for Saturday morning cartoons, even if they’re just sleeping next to you on the couch, to the ones who read The Very Hungry Caterpillar and other bedtime stories, to the ones who teach you how to drive and change a flat tire, to the MacGyver’s and the remote control masters who cross wires and eventually fix the DVD-VCR-Cable connection, to the ones that high-five you when you succeed or pat you on the back when you don’t, to the ones who snore so loud they can inhale the wallpaper if you had any, to the ones that tell you to chase your dreams, to the ones who have a cup of coffee with their daughter and talk about life … today’s your day.

Happy Father’s Day

Buen Camino …

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Feel Sort of Good Friday … 5

29 Jan

Even though I’m baking a cake tomorrow I’m still heading to the pie place.

It’s got one of those rectangle signs that spins, looks like a vintage diner now, but would be rocking it during the bell-bottom era. A coffee place where Flo probably worked the counter.

I made a promise … but never got a chance to keep it. We’ll have a piece of pie, coffee and pie, and talk about life.

I found out they got 24 kinds of pies.

I’ll have some trouble choosing just one. I’m sure I’ll know it when I see it.

We were supposed to try some, but he never made it out of the hospital. So even though I’ll be making a special birthday cake, I’ll start with a slice of pie to celebrate what would have been his 73rd birthday, because I made a promise. And that’s the kind of stuff you remember, the little things that don’t seem so little now.

73.

That’s a pretty hefty number. The kind that comes with wisdom and life. I imagine the Big 7-0 comes with that too. You get to a point where you don’t care and you live your life with the lessons that got you there. Plus coffee. I imagine he’d be retired, or work less by now. He’d probably have more baseball caps.

73.

I get stuck between being sad and celebrating his life. I imagine it hits a lot of people like that, you miss your friend, but you’re glad he’s not in pain because of a stupid random disease. Celebrating life … I remember his aftershave, still have his last bottle. It’s small, made of glass, with white letters spread across the front. It’s got only about a quarter left. The orange liquid swirls as I pick it up and hold it to the light. The musky smell reminds me of his morning shaves with his blue Gillette razors. Don’t remember him cutting himself shaving, but I imagine he did. All guys do, at least once. But I never saw him with toilet paper on his face, trying to stop the bleeding. Come out fresh. Style his hair with mousse and a black comb, the kind you’d get a barber shop.

He’d walk down the stairs and struggle to put his shoes on, to which I’d say, c’mon ol’ man, to which now I completely understand considering my back injuries and how really difficult putting shoes on is when your body doesn’t fully cooperate. White collared shirt. White pants. Black shoes. Baseball cap. Samsonite briefcase. And two Parker Pens in his front shirt pocket. I need to get me some Parker Pens.

Breakfast?

Sometimes.

Running late. Sometimes not enough time for eggs, scrambled or sunny side up. Not enough time for black beans. For bagels and cream cheese. For oatmeal with raisins. For coffee. But never cereal.

He’d say bye and drive off in his truck. For a long time it was a gray Nissan pickup … stick-shift. Not many people know how to drive one of those now, I’m glad to say I learned, I messed up his clutch a couple of times, but eventually I got the hang of it and shifting between first and second got easier. He’d listen to jazz on the way to work and never honk his horn at the jerk that cut him off. He’d just shrug his shoulders and keep going.

Even after he left the house, the smell of his after shave filled up the space.

Daily routines of the working class man. Morning routines.

I see them at night when I’m sleeping and in the morning when I’m putting on my own shoes.

I try to fill my kids with stories about Papa and little details, like baseball hats and musk aftershave, like trouble putting on shoes because of his back, his laughter after one of my bad jokes because I didn’t want to get out of bed. These morning routine details stand out most. The details matter more, when you’re trying to remember someone. They help fill the picture with the missing pieces. So I paint the landscape of my dad’s life, with attention to the detail so they can really see him up close. They help me remember too. Celebrating his life, his moments. Got to hold on, to even the simplest of things … like a promise for pie.

So birthday cake and pie.

Buen Camino my friends …

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Miles Davis — Freddie Freeloader

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Happy Birthday Donald Duck

Juan Gabriel — Buenos Dias Senor Sol

Mavis Staples — The Weight

Vince Guaraldi Trio — Linus and Lucy

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Feel Good 5 Friday … 10-12 pounders and No Turkey Trots

27 Nov

I’ve mentioned this before.

Turkey trots.

Haven’t participated in one and usually take to the road on my own designing my own race and hearing my footsteps as they rock they track. Only in adulthood years have I found Zen moments involving Saucony running shoes. I hated running when I was younger. Couldn’t stand it. But after college and kids, I realized that swimming, running, and obstacle racing bring out the better parts of me when I can’t make it to the beach.

The freeing sense of getting away, of moving forward, of making that giant push at the end is extremely satisfying. In truth, I don’t always wake up excited feeling like running is the greatest, but I do feel better every time after I’ve finished. Don’t regret it.

But Turkey Trots … I’m not big on them. I’ve done plenty of other races, just not that one. Maybe it’s more of a group event, you do with a whole lot of your people, wearing turkey costumes.

I’m not big on those, but I don’t think anybody was this year. However I still went on my run. 3.5 miles and that little extra was just in case I had to reach deep to tap the reserve. Thanksgiving provides for loads of material for any artist, but this year the dysfunction was at a minimum in part because we’re in the middle of a pandemic. Silver lining.

But even with the run, with the breathing and the sweat trickling down, with feeling tired, that good kind of tired, with being in that zone, the one that feels like a reward, I felt something missing. There was no where to go this week. Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday were busy with grocery shopping, kids school, my side project, and pandemic life. But I was not in a giant walk-in fridge-freezer taking inventory of turkeys as I had done for so many years in a row growing up. There were no index cards with orders for 12-14 free range turkeys. No moving or inventorying hundreds of boxes. No customers. No parking validations. No coffee breaks with my dad.

He’s been gone 10 years, but Thanksgiving is still the week and day that I remember him the most. Owning a poultry shop for years, you get to know what weeks are complete chaos and when the countdown needed to begin. And that was it for us. Thanksgiving. Late nights recording new orders with pops at the dinner table, while he drank his coffee.

Boxes. They weren’t my favorite. At the time I dreaded it. So much work. So many 14-16 pound birds. And now I remember it all the time. I can see his distinctive block printing, he only used Parker pens. His white butcher’s coat and collared shirt. His blue Diestel Farms cap and black Samsonite briefcase. His tired eyes but will to keep going because it needed to be done.

I thought about that all week long, 16-18 turkeys, and more so when I was eating the turkey and mashed potatoes on Thursday. The laziness of the day use to always hit us, more him than me. No waking up at 4 a.m. to drive to the shop and get ready for the rush. He’d sleep in on Thanksgiving. He always slept in on Thanksgiving and I thought about him as I rose to run.

Thought about all those details and it pained me to remember that it had been 10 years. But I kept walking with that hurt in my chest knowing it was there because he was loved and missed. Still. And grateful that I could remember the details and picture the moments in my mind. I’m lucky that way I guess. I tell the stories to the kids. They found the endless boxes of turkeys in the walk-in fridge and me freezing hilarious.

Ten years later, no more index cards, 18-20 pounders haunting me, or white butcher coats. Just green bean casserole, mac-and-cheese, fresh rolls, and pumpkin pie … and of course our own 10-12 pounder.

Buen Camino my friends …

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I’ll Be Your Man — Zac Brown Band

Something Just Like This — The Chainsmokers & Coldplay

Let My Love Open The Door — Peter Townshend

Vivo La Vida — Olga Tanon

Last Dollar — Tim McGraw

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Words on Wednesday …

28 Oct

Been waiting since 1988 when the RTD costs $1 and half of the school decided to leave after homeroom and make their way downtown to see Fernando Valenzuela, feel the mania in person, and catch a glimpse of “El Toro,” on a parade float.

It was amazing to see someone who resembled friends, neighbors, family lead the home team to an amazing victory. My dad got a new hat that year, don’t know where that one would be, as it’s not in my stash, but since he was busy working and didn’t have the luxury of leaving, parades were not in his future. So the hat helped celebrate the spirit of the neighborhood, and city.

I remember our neighbors being huge fans and celebrating the victory for days. Budweiser was the king of beers at the time and there was plenty of toasting going on.  There was an extra spring in everyone’s step.

And now I’ve got my bounce back.

Finally.

After so much heartbreak of coming up short, then getting robbed one year, and failing to reach the bar the next, it felt like the stumbling would continue.  But then it finally happened and I was able to watch and celebrate this rollercoaster ride with the kids. Making our own scrapbook  of memories. 

But to be honest, watching as a kid was a lot less stressful than watching it now.  My intensity levels keep strengthening and the faith of childhood  dreams with big comebacks don’t always show up nowadays … But I was hopeful and believed in Blue for decades because as you get older the stronger your allegiance to your team. 

I feel the stress and anxiety of these games a bit more as an adult, when you realize that second, third, or even fifth chances don’t come often.  You realize how deep it runs, the love of the game. The intensity of my fan being  puts me a little over the edge … especially when questionable pitching decisions snowballed into a disaster of an avalanche and I was left in my Costanza-Burgundy moments.

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I was more passionate about the game, and all the emotions that came with that comeback. I was grateful for the win last night. So grateful this happened to be a moment for the Jar of Awesome, sharing it with the kids … that created a memory all on it’s own. I’m hoping they’ll look back on it, just as I did. Hanging with my pops, baseball cap, and jumping up and down and screaming yesssssssssssssssssssssssss as they rushed the field.

And so I celebrate with my kids, along with the rest of the city, and enjoy the feel-good vibes that come with finally winning a World Series, of tipping my hat to players who’ve been on the roster for a long time and happy they’ve finally earned the ring they so deserve.

1988 was a long time ago.

And I was getting tired of waiting.

Hopeful … and with fingers crossed. It happened.

Picture by Wally Skalij

Buen Camino

I Got Words on Wednesday

24 Jun

You got faded Polaroids of bellbottoms tucked away in albums, collared shirts still hanging in the closet, and his favorite Robert DeNiro DVD’s on your bookshelf. But there’s still a hole and something is still missing.

That never goes away. The “missing them” part. It doesn’t. Sometimes it grips you so strong you want to hug the picture but worry you’ll crumple it. Sometimes you can’t breathe when you cry and other times you crack up in the middle of the day at a memory that tears make their way to the corners of your eye.

Father’s Day.

Got a roller coaster of ups and downs this weekend but I managed through with stories from my childhood and his. This time I found myself at the empty driving range. Something I haven’t done in years, something we enjoyed doing together. Gold balls never making it passed the 200-yard mark but I didn’t care, was just hanging out and swinging away. Sometimes we didn’t have to talk. We were in the friend zone. Smiling in silence, or laughing at the ridiculousness of the shot shanking to the left. We didn’t even like watching golf on TV or cared who won The Masters. It was us. Hanging out.

Then driving home in silver Tacoma, listening to jazz and retelling stories. Sometimes there’d be a stop at 31 Flavors, just because. There were no Ben & Jerry’s. So rocky road was my jam. But he was more of a Haagen Dazs guy. Still he got ice cream. Sometimes he’d pick strawberry. Sometimes chocolate. He’d try something different. He’d say there are 31 but none of them tasted like Haagen Dazs.

And so this month, for my friend, and in his honor, I did the race. Normally I’d be scaling one of the tallest buildings downtown. 63 stories. 1,393 steps. Do it every year for him, raise money for the American Lung Association to help people with lung disease. But with Covid-19, it was postponed, then postponed again, then onto a virtual platform.

So without my racing bib, crowds of fellow climbers, and the claustrophobic staircases I made my way to The Great Outdoors, with an epic playlist and purpose. The gasping for air. The heart pounding. And the legs involuntarily shaking when I got to the tippy top and end of my climb. All of it was still there and so was my reason.

1,831 steps.

1,831 reasons why my dad was worth the effort.

Hope your Father’s Day was blessed with kids, BBQ, and Hallmark cards of dad on couches.

Buen Camino my friends.

He’s My Driving Force, Even When I Run Out of Gas

17 Apr

Every year I feel like I can’t do it, but then I remember my purpose, and it gives me strength to keep going. I find that as I get older, purpose becomes the driving force that sustains me through challenges. The stronger the purpose pulls at my heart the greater the force that drives me.

Success, wins, or goals feel empty if the purpose lacks substance.

I find that obstacle races and running breathe fresh air into my life and help return me back to center. Peace is my driving force, but this one race, every year, this one is for something bigger than myself.

The 63 stories, 1,393 steps I climbed at the American Lung Association’s Fight for Air Climb was for my Dad, for what he represents to me, to my life, and to my kids. He was my purpose.

The thoughts of him holding my hand and walking with me out in the patio in our bell-bottoms when I was little, gave me strength to keep taking those steps. The thought of him giving me rides to school at 7 a.m. after he had finished his night shift, kept me going. The thought of seeing him clap for me as the basketball swooshed through the net at one of my games pushed me further. The thought of him being there for me even though he had his own dreams, and troubles, gave me strength to move forward when my body felt like breaking down. The thought of us being friends when I was older helped me reach the top when all my muscles just wanted me to stop. The thought of holding his hand in the hospital room and being the last one to talk to him, to see him alive, that made me teary-eyed as I caught my breath, kissed my fingertips and pointed to the sky. He was there when I reached the finish line.

He’s my driving force, even when I run out of gas.

It was tough this year. I say that a lot, but my aching knees definitely think that this year, the seventh year, was testing the limits. I mean before I even start, I always imagine the previous year and how difficult it was for me to reach the top, and I think it can’t be more difficult than that, but then I start the race and it is … it is more difficult, because I feeeeeeeeeeeeeeeel every single year of my life in those bones and muscles of mine when I climb. It hit me when I saw the 20th floor sign, and I tried my best not to look at the signs as I ran up the claustrophobic stairwells, but sometimes there was no where else to look, but up.

My calves were burning, my legs felt weak and my chest heavy as I tried to breathe.

And then I grew even more exhausted because it was only 20. I had 43 more floors to go. And so I went, passing people sitting on steps, clinging onto the walls, and holding onto to handrails just trying to regulate their breath, trying just to make it. Getting to the halfway mark made me feel better I thought I was almost there, but my legs disagreed with me in the most volatile voice.

But I dug deep because it was for the one man that’d seen all my flaws and shine and loved me through it all the best way he could. I dug deep because so many friends, old and new, read his story and donated to the cause to help someone else’s Dad, someone else’s mom, brother, sister, son, or daughter. They made a difference in the lives of someone searching for a cure, someone trying to raise awareness, someone trying to breathe a better breath.

I made it to the stop and took a moment to hold onto that feeling, a moment to remember my purpose as I looked out at the city.

He was worth it. Every step. Every ice pack. Every rock of lavender Epsom salt that my muscles needed. Every bit of that Ben-Gay. It was Gatorade-Worthy.

Buen Camino my friends!

 

Celebrating With Napoleon-Dynamite-Soul-Train-Solid-Gold Dances on Cloudy Days

15 Jul

So I stood there with my chocolate cupcake and chocolate frosting stopping time. Thinking about a day filed with tropical fish, jelly fish, penguins and sharks thinking about the seven years this amazing person has been in my life, mixed in with the eight-year anniversary of an awesome person leaving.

My daughter’s 7th birthday and my Dad’s passing.

It’s not a fun thing to feel a twinge of sadness on a day marked for happiness. It helped to remember that he liked to celebrate life on birthdays. My Dad enjoyed the sweetness of chocolate cake and frosting. He battled depression, but enjoyed laughing and feeling good. He didn’t like sadness and wanted to feel good, so he did what he could to make that happen. And that hard. He had his ups and downs, but he tried and succeeded on most days. Any chance at smiling he took it.

And so … on my daughter’s 7th birthday I did just that.

Any chance for smile and I took it.

Turning seven … that was something to smile about. The adventures of this little Ninja Warrior take me beyond smiles and go deep into laughter. She’s been the Rainbow Brite of my life during cloudy days.

On the last day of being six she mastered the blue and green water slides at the pool and cannon-balled her way to the 4 1/2 feet section of the pool.

“You don’t need to catch me,” she says.

On the last day of being six I didn’t catch her. But on the first day of being seven, I gave her the squishiest hug and the funkiest dance as we listened to the Beatles sing Today is Your Birthday.

I celebrated her contagious laughter and her impromptu Napoleon-Dynamite-Soul-Train-Solid-Gold Dancer caliber happy dances after something good happens to her. I celebrated the awesome softball player she grew into. I celebrated the love she has for art, painting, drawing, coloring, and anything in the Bob Ross world. I celebrated her love for Multi-Grain Cheerios as her favorite breakfast meal, Mortadella and Salami sandwiches as her favorite snack, and black beans any time of day. I celebrate her enjoyment of baking cakes, cookies, and cupcakes, and laugh when she doesn’t want to eat them and just taste the frosting. I celebrated her adventurous spirit and willingness to give any kind of rollercoaster a try, as long as she meets the height requirement. I celebrated her love for hugs, that part I think was passed down to her from my Dad. I celebrated her love for the If You Give A Mouse a Cookie series of books and TV show. I celebrated her for being a caring sister who loves her brother so much that sometimes she bursts his personal space bubble. I celebrate her for being smart, strong, and sensitive at the same time. I celebrated her love for penguins at the aquarium and her first time touching baby sharks.

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We celebrated turning seven with a Napoleon-Dynamite-Soul-Train-Solid-Gold Dancer caliber happy dance and that made any twinge of sadness disappear. I laughed and felt joy and I knew if my Dad was watching that day he would be cracking up too and feeling joy. His spirit still lives in me and in his granddaughter.

 

Buen Camino my friends!

 

 

 

 

Alternate Universes with The Wire on Father’s Day

17 Jun

I haven’t been able to perfect the superpower of fending off jackasses with magic bracelets or a golden lasso. I’m not on the Wonder Woman level yet.

But I get plenty of practice without asking.

I knew Father’s Day was going to be hard, but it was a rough one today. On all levels from the early morning, until the moment I started typing this post. It’s been a day I wish would end. And the sad thing is I actually practiced some positive thinking and positive vibes this morning, but the universe sent me different energy.

Apparently I needed to brush up on those superhero skills. But instead all I felt was anger, frustration, and emotional exhaustion.

Random strangers being complete jackasses at the cemetery, the cemetery of all places! I thought at the very least since we’re all grieving people would respect the sanctity of the cemetery. But instead it ended up in a cage match battle of words with a no-holds-barred level of intensity and aggression. Then on top of that, people close to you just say the ugliest things that bring you down, knowing full well that this is a tough day.  I mean it’s no wonder we’re distant, friendship suffering and all. The toxic level is so high that I just can’t go through that again and I’m on the verge of just giving up on them.

All this negative energy and nastiness leaves me feeling teary-eyed about all the ugliness I went through today. I mean, I’m too old for this crap.

And of course, the worst part … it’s Father’s Day and I know that my day would have been completely different if my pops were here. I know it. I’m stuck in an alternate universe and have to keep figuring out how this ride is gonna end up without him here. I guess it’s the unfinished life and all the missed opportunities that really bother me. That feeling always increases on holidays like this.

In an effort to keep him around this week, I had a Season I and Season II binge-watching session of The Wire just to remember  what it was like hanging out with him, his commentary on Omar, McNulty, and Lester. I still think about him often, but days like this, my thoughts are extra heavy. You see about eight years ago on Father’s Day was the last time we spoke. I mean I talked to him every day in the hospital when I was on night shift, but Father’s Day was the last time we had a conversation.

It wasn’t a life talk, or lessons he had yet to teach me, or anything like that. It was about how he was feeling. And about The World Cup, that’s something that really had him excited. His prediction and his favorite teams. He had me record some games, so he could catch up when he got out. It was a to-be-continued conversation, really. Not a good-bye, more like a see you later. You see I didn’t think he was gonna die, I just didn’t. Not my Dad. But he did. So I was left with about a month-long of one-sided late-night conversations. Him listening to me, but not being able to respond. Those were the heartfelt life talks, for sure. So much was said, and I was glad I said it. And the thing is, I never wondered whether or not he heard me, I knew he heard me as I held his hand night after night.

And so I find it so difficult to get passed these days without him by side. I have no regrets because I told him everything I needed to, but I definitely wish he was still here. I wouldn’t need superhero power training and all, to fend off bad guys at the cemetery if he were around.

But he’s not.

So I keep things that he enjoyed close by and I hear his voice when I can … and so now I’m off to dreamland to dream a dream I hope he is in. Maybe we’re having a cup of coffee and talking about life, me drinking tea of course, him with his coffee, black two sugars. Or maybe we’re just watching the The Wire. I’ll let you know how it pans out.

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Happy Father’s Day everyone.

Buen Camino …

 

 

 

How The Story Ended

18 Apr

It ended the way it was supposed to.

You see, when I got there, I took a moment. During the morning rush, chaos of leaving my kids, driving through traffic, and feeling overwhelmed and nervous with emotions, I stopped and took a moment. During the whole process of rising to the top, I took a moment when I saw the poster and I had it.

I had the something-bigger-than-myself emotion running through me. I had the gratitude and humility of the amazing kindness shown to me by my supporters who contributed to my cause. They helped me raise over $1000 for the American Lung Association in honor of my father, and they helped impact someone else’s life.

I had my dad’s spirit watching over me, knowing I haven’t forgotten him, knowing that he’s part of the reason I am who I am.

As the race began, I had the why in my heart and it helped my get through the how.

You see, there’s something that’s always certain about this race. It’s NOT easy. It never is, no matter how hard I train. It tests every muscle in my legs. It doesn’t make it easier to know what’s coming. I was still anxious and nervous. But I looked up to the sky and knew the reason why. So, I turned on the music, heard Los Polifaceticos bust out Camaron Pelao and took the first step. But never fear La Chona was track #3 and Footloose was on the horizon.

Then, right there on the eighth floor was a randomly placed poster of my father, there he was smiling, sitting next to me and my sister, with the title Why We Climb. There were posters of a lot of loved ones on the way to the top, and it tugged at my heart. The Rocky Balboa spirit surged.

 

As I climbed, my breathing slowed down and my legs felt heavy, my body became acutely aware of the claustrophobic dynamics and inner architectural workings of staircases. Once again, they appeared to lack the free-flowing breeze of the outdoors, which apparently is extremely necessary to oxygenate my muscles. My Randy Macho Man Savage strength was severely tested by the time I hit the 14th floor and I knew … I knewwwwwwwwwwwwww I’d be using that CVS three-dollar coupon for a tube of BenGay and that ice packs would be my knees’ best friends. No amount of pre-or-post stretching would have helped. By the time I reached the 31st floor my calves were not happy. They were intensely screaming profanity at me … in Spanish. There were a lot of people feeling that wrath as I passed some of them on the stairs resting, sitting, hunched over, drinking water, or in need of an oxygen mask.

But I never stopped.

I kept my Dad on my mind, and in my heart, and when I saw floor 61, I sprinted up the stairs like Usain Bolt until I saw the sunlight and reached the roof.

I made it to the top … 15 minutes, 28 seconds.

15 minutes and 28 seconds of intensity, of hard work, of sweat, of emotion, of heart, and of will. 15 minutes and 28 seconds of honoring a man that sacrificed so much for me.

Buen Camino my friends!

 

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!!