It’s that time of the year – Father’s Day. And while the world celebrates the special bond between fathers and their children, my heart becomes a whirlwind of emotions.
Eighteen years have passed since I lost my father, yet the void he left behind is as deep as ever. As I reflect on his absence, I can’t help but marvel at the impact he had on my life and the promises I made to him, which still resonate within me.
Daddy’s Little Girl:
“I remember vividly the promise I made to my father on his deathbed.”
Growing up, I was Daddy’s little girl. He was my hero, my protector, and my confidant. We shared countless memories, laughter, and even tears. My dad’s Cuban heritage infused our lives with vibrant energy and a unique perspective. He cherished our Cuban traditions, and he made it his mission to ensure that all three of his children had access to the best education possible. As he always warned us, “Education is the only thing that cannot be taken away.”
I remember vividly the promise I made to my father on his deathbed. His once sharp mind clouded by Alzheimer’s, I held his hand with a gentle grip that conveyed both love and urgency. I remember leaning over to whisper in his ear moments before he passed. In that poignant exchange, I became the torchbearer of his legacy for my own family. I knew then and there that it was my responsibility to teach my son our culture and our language.
Traits That Can’t Be Denied:
“From him, I learned the importance of hard work, perseverance, and unwavering dedication to loved ones.”
While the loss of my father was undeniably devastating, it also instilled in me a sense of tenacity and discipline. My dad’s journey to the United States as a Cuban refugee in his early thirties exemplified his unwavering determination. He arrived with nothing to his name but carried the weight of responsibility for his young family—a wife, a six-year-old son, and even a loyal dog.
Witnessing my father’s resilience shaped my character. He demonstrated that success is not measured solely by material possessions but by the strength of character and the love we share with those around us. Even though we were not financially well-off, we always had a bed to spare and a chair at our dining room table for many a wayward youth. From him, I learned the importance of hard work, perseverance, and unwavering dedication to loved ones.
The years following my father’s passing have been filled with both joy and challenges. In honoring his memory, I diligently worked to ensure that my son embraced his Cuban heritage. I immersed him in the richness of our culture, sharing stories of my father’s homeland, teaching him Spanish, and cooking traditional Cuban dishes together. And in the brief time it was legal to do so, I took my son to visit the Communist island nation. I wanted him to feel the same connection to his roots that my dad had instilled in me.
Father’s Day Reflections:
“Remember that their legacy lives on through you.”
So on this Father’s Day, I can’t help but reflect on the profound impact my father had on my life. His absence is deeply felt, especially during these poignant moments when the world celebrates fatherhood. Yet his memory and teachings continue to guide me, reminding me of the incredible love we shared and the promises I made to him.
To anyone who has lost a father or a loved one, I want you to know that the pain doesn’t fade completely. It lingers, etching its mark on your heart. But within that pain, there is strength and resilience. There is an opportunity to carry their spirit forward and honor their memory in meaningful ways.
This Father’s Day, I will embrace the memories of my dad, remembering the sound of his laughter, the warmth of his hugs, and the wisdom he imparted upon me. I will hold onto the promises I made and continue to nurture the bond between my son and his Cuban heritage.
To all the fathers out there, cherish every moment with your children. Teach them, guide them, and love them unconditionally. And to those who, like me, struggle with the absence of a father, take solace in the lasting impact they’ve had on your life. Remember that their legacy lives on through you.