Growing up I heard stories on how my dad reacted when I was born. I found it hilarious that even though he was told I was going to be a girl that he still had some hope that a boy would be born. So he bought boy clothes, airplanes and cars, so I was told, eagerly waiting for my arrival. Never did he imagine that he would walk into the hospital and greet a little girl. My grandfather says that he remembers my dad getting home from the hospital and being upset because he had a daughter, and my grandfather mentioned that when he saw him he told him, “De esa niña tendras mucho”, “you will have a lot from that girl.” So my grandpa says but my dad always says it is not true, who knows.
Growing up, I would hear stories from my dad of when he was a little boy and how much he struggled to get by. Life made my father grow up faster than other boys and at 18, he married my mother, becoming a father not too long after. I remember him being a kid with me at times and fooling around, but once I got older, he got more into speeches. He would enforce the importance of going to school, of enjoying life and of living all of our dreams and not getting into such a huge responsibility, like getting married or having a kid, at such a young age. My father always made us understand that he did not regret getting married to my mom, but he regretted getting married at such a young age and missing on so much. My mom always mentions how my dad was a great helper when we were all little. She says that regardless of what was happening, he was always responsible with his family and took care of us despite his young age.
As I got older, there were a lot of differences that I noticed between my dad and I and it was a bit hard to understand his point of views at times. But as the years went by, my mom would say that we were so much alike, it was like Tony was born again, but in a girl. It was not until a few years ago that I realized how many similarities my dad and I actually had. My father is the most cheerful, uplifting, charismatic, energetic, hard headed, positive, hard working, smart, loving and amazing man I know. His family is everything to him. My dad was raised with his grandparents and never truly knew what it was like to be in a family system. My dad always lets my siblings, mom and I know that we are everything to him…we are his life and that he loves us so much because he knows his family is his and no one else’s. He loves dancing, enjoys watching movies and listening to music. He adores his hometown Oaxaca, Mexico and would die if he did not go for the Dia de Los Muertos celebration. He loves helping his family and enjoys being in their company. He has taught my siblings and I that family is sacred and without each other, we would be empty.
My dad is the true definition of the American Dream. I admire his strength and courage of always pushing through to give his best. My dad is admirable, despite all of the struggles, he beat the statistic and made it through. There were many people that possibly did not believe in him but his love for his family made him push further and today, he is one of the youngest souls that I know. I love being around him, whether it’s doing yard work, listening to music, watching a movie or having a political discussion that we may or may not agree on. Pa, you have taught me so much and I love you more than words can explain. I am thankful for you today and always because thanks to you, I have become the strong woman that I am today. Without your powerful words and education, I would not have made it through. Thank you for being around and always taking care of your family. Happy Father’s day….today and every day! Te amo pa!
Esmeralda Mendez is Mexican-American. She is the proud daughter of immigrant parents and has Latinx roots. Esmeralda is a dancer, poet, and passionate young woman who will be graduating with her Masters in Social Work in May 2020.