Tag Archives: father’s day

Roberto Duran, Tuesday Night Fights, and Late Night Cup of Coffees on Father’s Day

18 Jun

It’s the day you think about the cool Thrifty’s ice cream cone he bought you on a hot day.  It’s the day you focus on the traffic-congested-day trips to Sea World or Raging Waters he used to take you to during the summer. It’s the day you think about him driving after a long day of work to try catch one of your basketball games. It’s the day you flip through the 1970s photo albums to try and remember the posed Kodak moments that sit behind that clear plastic covers.

As an adult it’s the day you try to hold onto good childhood (and adulthood) memories without crying, but smiling and laughing instead, because they happened and you can remember them.

 

 

 

 

Father’s Day celebrates all the dads and the adventures they led you through to make you the person you are today. It celebrates the stubbornness and adventurous spirit of the dude that sat behind those tired eyes at the end of the day and listened to my stories while stirring his cup of coffee.

 

image

 

I tried to recreate a Father’s Day Weekend he might enjoy by heading to the mecca of golf shops and looking around at things he might want to buy but knowing full well he would probably just use them like twice a year, yet still be very satisfied with his purchase. Went to Fry’s Electronics store and stared at the big screen TVs and other gadgets for a while just thinking of what he’d say.

On Father’s Day Eve I watched a couple of boxing movies he had yet to see, but I guarantee he would have enjoyed them just because they had to do with boxing and the underdog. He liked Robert DeNiro almost as much as I did, so I imagine he would have given Hands of Stone two thumbs up. I imagine in part because it was a true story, and in part because he probably saw one of Duran’s fights on television. He would have told me about the first Sugar Ray Leonard fight, and what an amazing blow by blow battle it was. He liked Sugar Ray, but I think he would have rooted for Duran because of his upbringing and rise from nothing into something. He probably would have told me about the rematch as well, and had something to say about that Don King. He would have talked about it being on the news and how people heard Duran say “No Mas,” but wondering whether Duran really said it. We would have had an all-out-father-daughter discussion over some ice cream on that one.

I imagine him liking Hands of Stone for the same reason he would have really liked The Fighter. He enjoyed true stories about the human condition, the come-back kids worth rooting for.

With boxing it wasn’t so much the punching, although you couldn’t miss the combinations in each round, but it was the stories behind each boxer he enjoyed, it was the story of the fight. He was a fan of the sport, watching HBO cards whenever the big dudes took the ring. But what he really enjoyed watching were the weekly matches on USA Network’s Tuesday Night Fights.

I remember, every Tuesday night, coffee cup in hand and pillows fluffed up in the right position on the floor, because for some reason he enjoyed propping up all the pillows against the bottom of the couch and lying on the floor facing the television. He didn’t enjoy the sideways angle in which the couches were situated. So he made his own comfy space, a make-shift Lazy-Boy, although with all the excitement of the fight he’d put the coffee cup down and stand up in the middle of each round, bobbing and weaving with the boxers. And then smiling and saying … Phewwww!  That was a good round ….

So I tried to recapture some of that for myself yesterday. I tried to catch some of my Dad.

Celebrating someone who has passed on is tough, they’re physically gone and you don’t hear their laughter anymore, but you hold onto to their stories the best you can and focus on the good things they left you with, like their heart,  spirit, Tuesday Night boxing stories, and late-night-cup-of-coffee memories.

Happy Father’s Day …

 

1A

 

 

 

 

Introducing Me To Clint Eastwood

18 Jun

On quiet nights like this I miss seeing his briefcase by the door, his white butcher coat and shirt laying on the armrest, and the smell of the coffeemaker percolating the night’s brew. Night time coffee and HBO on a Saturday night. That was him.

Tonight it’s quiet, no briefcase, no white coat, no baseball caps, no coffee percolating and no HBO talk. Just me and some laundry.

I passed by the CVS the other day and saw all the Star Wars Father’s Day cards, I saw the funny ones with pets, the ones with fishing poles, golf clubs, and cartoons. I still read them, but it hurt. It hurts to buy cards he’s not going to read or keep in his briefcase. It hurts missing out on conversations about life and Father’s Day dinners.

dad over me fathers day

At times like this when breathing becomes hard because you miss someone so much, I find comfort in storytelling. Story remembering, really. I try to write as much as I can now so that my kids will be able to see how I saw my father and how I felt. So that my kids will know their grandfather had a good heart, that he had problems too, but that he tried. He tried and he kept his heart in tact during the process.

He suffered the loss of his Dad too, just when he was 10, and his life couldn’t have been easy, but he tried his best. He battled depression during my youth and adulthood, and often felt like giving up, but he still tried.

Adventures. Staycations. HBO marathons. Superbowl games. Boxing matches. Supermarket trips. Baskin-Robbins outings. Movie discussions. Costco adventures. Theater excursions. Joke telling stories. And talks. Lots of talks.

Sometimes the missing out is the worst part … my kids missing out on him, missing out on creating their own adventures with grandpa. So I’m hoping the storytelling will create a good picture. I’m hoping they’ll get to know him through my stories and through their grandpa’s adventurous and humorous spirit that lives inside of them.

He liked Westerns. He liked Clint Eastwood. So I found it interesting that Clint would be on TV the night before Father’s Day.

I found it comforting to know that I was watching one of his favorites, while folding laundry in the night time quiet. I figured he might be having a cup of coffee. Black. Two sugars. And remembering stories about me, remembering my dreams, remembering my laugh, remembering all the Father’s Day cards in his Samsonite briefcase, remembering how he introduced me to Clint Eastwood.

Clint Eastwood … he turned out to be all right.

Happy Father’s Day …

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.

.

:)

🙂

.

.

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.

 

:)

🙂

 

 

Thanks HBO For a Refresher on My Eastwood Education

17 Jun

It’s been almost three years since my dad passed away and Father’s Day is still a tough one for me. I usually get through it by watching stuff like Frequency, Juno, October Sky, Little Miss Sunshine, or if I’m feeling emotional My Life with Michael Keaton. But this Father’s Day I hung out with Clint Eastwood, which seemed pretty appropriate seeing how my dad was a huge fan.

HBO made this encounter possible.

I used to be high-rolling it and got HBO regularly, but seeing how I’m a starving writer, I had to cut down with expenses and just get the bare essentials. But this weekend FREE came back into my life and it was pretty sweet. I like free. Me and free get along pretty well when there’s no strings attached. We got the free HBO trial this weekend. It must have been a sign. My dad was working his magic behind the scenes.

So I didn’t argue, I got some Ghirardelli and parked myself on the couch and watched Trouble With The Curve. Now I had to wait until 11 p.m. to watch it, you know, during the real quiet of the night so that I would not get disturbed with questions about food, diapers, parking spots or toys. I wanted to be present — in the moment –hanging out with my dad, in a way.  And that usually can’t happen when crazy is happening here. So I waited and it was worth it. I like baseball and I like Eastwood.

 

 

All I could think of was what my dad would say during the movie. He was big on color commentating during a film, play-by-play and replays too. I imagine I’d get frustrated with all the questions and pauses but it was our routine. I enjoyed Eastwood’s funny one-liners in his gritty voice. I’d bust out a loud HA-HA crack me up laugh. And my dad would shake his head at my exaggerations and smile. Then he’d probably have a cup of coffee, while I drank some tea.

In truth I wasn’t always a Clint Eastwood fan, wasn’t too thrilled with his whole macho man western type of movie. But my for some reason my dad was like any father, he wanted to share his wisdom with me. My dad began his quest to educate me on Eastwood in 1992. He formally introduced me to Eastwood with Unforgiven. He’d have to bribe me with popcorn, gummy bears, sour patch candy, or chocolate to check out these films. I’d reluctantly go see the movie, but enjoyed the treats.

It wasn’t until my college years that I fully appreciated the Eastwood education and all the times I’d just hang out with my dad in front of the VCR, you know when people had VCRs and memberships to Blockbuster.

So I found it appropriate that I’d see one of his films Sunday and do my best to remember him and our conversations. Thanks HBO for my Eastwood Education Refresher Course.

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

Remembering My Dad: Chito 7 Pantalones and His Samsonite Briefcase

16 Jun

The best thing I ever wrote was about my Dad …

Many people called him Don Julio … or Juuuu-lio. They saw him as a nice, hard-working man who wore white pants, a white collared shirt, a long white butcher’s coat, a baseball cap, and a smile. They saw him as a man who cut chicken for over 25 years and carried a black Samsonite briefcase with what he said held his most important papers.

But for me … it was different.

He was more than just that good guy, with a briefcase and a smile, who was nice to old ladies that complained about their chicken. To me he was my Dad, and he loved to laugh and joke around. He was my friend whose life was cut short because of this terrible lung disease, which cause was unknown. At 62 years young, he lived an unfinished life. The grandpa years had just begun and he still wasn’t done being my Dad.

My Dad ...

My Dad …

To me … my Dad was … Chito … Chito 7 Pantalones. No one in my family ever asked me why I had started calling my dad that. They would just roll their eyes thinking … look at this chick. His name is Dad, not Chito. But when my abuela, Dona Julia, told me the story as to how he got the nickname, I believe it captured his essence. And when he was sad, or wasn’t feeling well, I wanted to remind him of who he was …

The story dates back to when my Dad was a little boy in Guatemala. He loved playing soccer and hanging out with his friends. But most of his buddies didn’t have a lot of money and couldn’t afford soccer shorts or pants. They just had their school clothes.

My Dad had extras, but his mom was pretty strict about letting others borrow his clothes. So in an effort to be a good friend and a good sportsman, my Dad would run back to his house and put on seven pairs of shorts and a pair of pants on top of that in order to camouflage the evidence. Then he would sneak past his mom — Mission Impossible style — and sprint back to the soccer field. He would take off all seven pairs of shorts and pants, then lend them out to his friends.

Chito ...

Chito …

They would play soccer until the sun went down, and I imagine he would score goals, laugh, and stretch his arms out like an airplane. Zig-zagging on the field and high-fiving his friends. This story often reminds me of his kindness and willingness to do whatever he could to help his friends. He had a big heart. Big. This was my dad … This was Chito.

He laughed at my jokes and thought I was funny. He played soccer with my son, and baseball with my nephew. He watched my sister and I play sports in high school, and supported our dreams when we went to college. He would often call us for no particular reason at all. Just calling to say hello, even though we had seen him earlier that day, he would call just to say hi. He welcomed multiple family members from Guatemala to live with us for many years until they were ready to live on their own.

Throughout my childhood, he sacrificed things that were important to him so that we could have a good life. Most people didn’t know him the way I did, and for those people who just saw him as the guy with a white shirt and white pants missed out on knowing a great man.

He enjoyed watching The Sopranos, The Wire, The Shield, and 24 with me, in addition to watching novelas with my mom. He liked Charles Bronson, Al Pacino, Jack Nicholson, and Robert DeNiro movies. He constantly loved to debate with my cousin, El Huero, about the significance of a particular scene or line in the movie. They would argue for about thirty minutes saying: How much? How much you wanna bet? How much? Then they would rewind the movie only to reveal that they were both wrong. And we would all laugh.

My Dad with his grandson ...

My Dad with his grandson …

He taught us that hard work and perseverance in life paid off. He was a big believer in dreams and made sure that we followed ours, no matter how crazy they might have seemed to others. He had great spirit in everything he did, especially when playing with his grandsons.

He enjoyed Haggen Daaz Milk Chocolate Almond Bars in the summer and diving into my uncle’s pool, even though he couldn’t swim very well. He would spring off the diving board, no floaties.

“Life’s an adventure, sometimes you just gotta jump in.”

He was stubborn and passionate about his point of views, no matter how big or small the issue. He always believed in the goodness of other people. He was a good man who taught me a lot about being  a compassionate human being.

And this Samsonite briefcase, in which he carried his most important papers, was found in his office after he passed away. And when he carried it, we would always tell him to be careful.

“Don’t have too much money in there, Dad.”

“Watch where you’re going, it’s dangerous.”

“Be careful at night.”

“Awww. Don’t worry,” was his reply. “I’ll be O.K.”

Hanging out with Dad

Hanging out with Dad

And it wasn’t until we were planning the funeral when we discovered that those important papers were not stocks, bonds, titles, or deeds. What he carried in that Samsonite briefcase was 35 years worth of Father’s Day cards signed in crayons, fingerpaints, pencils, markers, and pens. This was my Dad; he carried a briefcase of his daughters’ love at all times.

I miss him very much.

 

You Can’t Win It, If You’re Not In It

27 Mar

It’s a small, square, orange piece of paper. But it can change your life. Six numbers that’s all it takes. Possible? Yes. There are people out there that have done it. Bastards. Probable … not so much.

The state lottery was up to 363 million dollars.

Did I buy I ticket?

Yeah.

Do I want to win?

Stupid question.

Will I?

Probably not.

The tickets

But having that small slip of orange paper, made me think of my dad. He wasn’t a compulsive gambler or big purchaser of Lotto, but whenever it was up there he would buy a couple of tickets.

I remember telling him I needed one of his business cards for something and he told me to get it from his wallet — some leather thing he had since 1987 that was holding on to dear life by a thin brown thread.  No matter how many wallets I bought him, they remained in their boxes and my dad held on to his aging money carrier.

As I looked through the wallet, I found a couple of pictures of my sister: One from her junior prom as the reigning queen; One from homecoming as the reigning queen; A glamour shot with a big, red, fluffy, feathery scarf deal and soft lighting happening. She’s in her late thirties and my dad still carried all these old school photos of her.

Me?

One picture. Varsity basketball.

Grandkids? A couple of each kid, smiling that cheesy smile that preschoolers know how to master.

“Hey, what’s up with just one photo of me? What am I chopped liver?”

He’d smile. “I just need one, you never change. This is you always. Plus I have you here in person. Your sister … she’s far away. She’s on the other side of the country. The only reason why she didn’t move any further was because there were no more states … just water.”

I’d explain to him that her job transferred her and she needed to go. But you know dads … him and his “hey, hey, hey … regardless. She could’ve got another job.”

As I continued flipping through his wallet and looking at all the business cards I found a couple of lottery tickets and for some reason that made me sad. I always thought I’d be some big time writer so my dad wouldn’t have to buy lottery tickets.

My dream was to repeat the Citi Credit Card commercial with the father and his son going to the land of their ancestors. Have you seen it?

Yeah I wanted to repeat that version with my dad when he turned sixty, but it never happened. Instead I found state lottery tickets in his sad wallet. Made me feel pretty crappy.

He asked why I looked weird.

I explained to him that I wanted to take him to Spain with my big time writer best-seller book advances or my hit TV drama royalties when he turned sixty. Instead I just bought him a steak dinner and baked him a cake.

“That cake was good,” he said.

I’d shake my head.

“Don’t worry you can still take me to Spain when I turn 65 we’ll eat some paella and tortilla espanola, visit Estremadura … you got five more years, get on it. Dream big, take me on a plane. And don’t worry, if I win the Lotto you can still take me to Spain, we’ll just use that money.”

“I guess I better buy a ticket too. Increase our chances. Can’t win it, if you’re not in it.”

He’d smile and shake his head.

I never got that chance to be the Guat version of the Citi Credit Card commercial. It’s almost going to be two years since he passed. He was 62. I had three years left.

So when ever I see those old, orange lottery tickets folded up in my wallet, I think of my dad, my writer’s dream, and Spain.

Aisle 19, The Long-Lost Cookies, and My Dad

17 Mar

I never thought I’d get emotional in aisle 19. I’m not the type of chick that turns on the waterworks quite easily, but there I was … in the cookie aisle, having a moment.

It wasn’t because I’m an emotional eater or I was having Oreo withdrawals from Weight-Watchers-point calculations. No … I happen to come across something that sparked a childhood memory with my Dad. It happens from time to time, in random places, but I usually keep it together.

I hadn’t seen these in over twenty-five years, and I’m sure they were in aisle 19 all along, but I seldom run my cart down that aisle. And when I saw them, I remembered … I remembered … and all I could think about was my Dad and how much I missed him.

As I’ve mentioned before, we grew up in a tough inner-city neighborhood, but that didn’t necessarily mean we didn’t have a slice of something special. Every so often my Dad would drive out about thirty minutes on the freeway to take us to a place called Carnation.

We’d all pile in the brown supreme station wagon and venture off to this restaurant that specialized in making its own ice cream.  Oh. For the love of banana splits made with rocky road and marshmallow topping.

I couldn’t wait to finish my meal, because I knew dessert would be coming shortly. We would all get whatever we wanted, no limits. My sister usually got two scoops of chocolate chip, my mother strawberry, our cousins mint chip … me … I’d go for the banana split … and I’d never have to share. Usually we’d go to other restaurants or 31 Flavors and I’d always have to share my two scoop sundae with someone. But at Carnation … my dad made it a point to splurge. No sharing required, but if you wanted to … you could.

The only thing I absolutely did not share were these cookies that were neatly surrounding my awesome banana split. I’d get six … two for each scoop.

Light, crispy, and sweet. Awesome.

Just as I finished the last one, I’d always want more. But it never happened. Six and that was it. The waitresses weren’t much for extras, so I’d always come home longing for more.

Until one day …

After we had piled back into the station wagon, my Dad remembered that he had left his wallet in the booth. He left all of us there in the parking lot, with our seat belts on, the radio blaring something from the Spanish station KLOVE, and the windows rolled down because the air-conditioner was on the fritz. We were in the shade so it wasn’t too bad.

It took him a while to return. But when he did he smiled and we rushed back home. As we were trekking up the stairs to our apartment building my Dad told me he had forgotten something in the car. It was for my sister and I. He said it was in the front seat.

He tossed me the keys and I went to go get it. As I opened the car door, I saw a brown paper bag in the driver’s seat. I opened it up … it was a box of the sugar wafer creme-filled cookies. A box!

I turned to look at the stairs, my Dad stood there smiling.

He passed away about a year and a half ago and I miss him every day.

So when I saw the cookies on aisle 19 I just had to buy them. I fixed myself up a nice banana split with six cookies, the only thing missing was my dad, his cup of coffee, and our conversation.