I'm one of the lucky ones. I have very loving and devoted parents, the best any child (actually, the best any four children) could ever have. And we couldn't love them more. When it comes to wisdom, affection and plain old silly-fun, my Daddy takes the prize. As I reflect on all that Papi has imparted on my life (and I have a list of over 50 items!), here are some of the best and sweetest things I've learned from my Dad.
Build healthy relationships: Papi has always been about relating, communicating, interacting, looking at you straight in the eye, giving you a strong handshake and making you feel like you are the most important person in the world.
- Make sure you let your Papi know that, no matter what, you love and appreciate him . With his children: As a Dad, that meant that his kids were to listen to his advice (especially when they had misbehaved) whether they felt ready for it or not. Sometimes we wished he'd given us una buena nalgada (a good slap on the butt) than take the long way to the supermarket and back just so we could listen to his "how to behave" lecture. But do you know why we listened? Because before the lecture happened, we had a relationship: there was laughing, singing, hugs and breakfast every morning. Because we had no doubt he loved us.
- With his wife: Papi loved Mami and we knew it. He kissed and hugged my Mom, would twirl her around the room in a quick dance step, and make her laugh with his constant teasing and joking. Don't get me wrong: those two knew how to argue like cats and dogs, but in the end there has always been this unshakeable love that has kept them together for 50 years.
- With others: My Dad understands the value of living by some Golden Rules: "Do unto others as you wish others do unto you" and "Always come with an attitude to serve."
Enjoy the great sounds of life: I have come to appreciate sounds like my Dad does, whether it be a book or news article read aloud, bolero music being played off a vinyl record, the crack of a bat hitting a baseball, a baby's happy laughter or the cries of surprise after seeing someone you haven't seen in a while.
Keep safe at all times: One of Dad's biggest values is to foresee danger and avoid accidents-and he made sure this was his job as we grew up. Some of his favorite sayings (and best advice) included "always watch out for the people around you", "drive only at the speed you can control" and "make sure you constantly look through every mirror in the car while driving."
Take good care of your appearance: As he became a teenager, Dad grew into a handsome young man, and he quickly found out that the value of keeping a clean appearance would stay with him beyond youth and good looks. He was the one who taught me how to iron a pair of pants, button up a shirt before hanging it, buff shoes, and keep clean fingernails and soft hands.
And like Papi used to say, una buena comunicación resulta en una buena relación.
Have your own anecdotes from your Dad? Share them with us!