In late April of 1981, just outside the brightly-lit delivery room of the Clinica de Merida, you met your son, Carlos. Because he cried during the post-natal tests, his face had turned bright red and little gasps punctuated his breathing. From my prone position on the gurney wheeling along behind him, I looked to you for reassurance. You nodded your head up and down. I could see the wonder in your eyes and hear the joy in your sigh. I could feel gratitude spilling out of you, filling the air around us. We had overwhelming reasons to be grateful. Eleven months and two weeks prior to this moment, you’d held a different little boy and we thought we were starting our family. But our first son did not live beyond his third day.
To feel such love for the baby you had in your arms, mixed with the anguish of losing his older brother is still my ultimate teetering-on-the-brink moment – and you felt the same – I could see that. But the strength you summoned from deep inside yourself brought me back from the edge. You kissed me and you promised me you would be the best dad you could possibly be. I believed you and my faith turned out to be well-placed.
Three years and nine months later, in early January of 1985, Maggie joined our family. You had no sisters and I could see your look of uncertainty. How should you act with this little girl? All sorts of expressions and grimaces crossed over your face, and then your mouth settled into the widest smile I’d ever seen you make.
For all these years, you have loved your son and daughter unconditionally. When they were newborns, you got up in the night as soon as they cried. You changed their diapers, and brought them to me to nurse. You played down on the floor with them. You read to them. You provided every opportunity you could, and you taught them about your country. You also insisted they learn about mine. More than me, you made English our home-language and thanks to your efforts, Carlos and Maggie have two native languages. Striving for excellence was not merely an option for our children,
Of course there were times when our son and daughter rejected your opinions and advice. This is a normal part of growing up and becoming independent.
But you have always done what you believed was necessary in order to keep them safe. You tried hard to help them understand why you insisted they conform to certain norms. They have learned a great deal from you. They have received true love. They’ve had a stellar example to follow. And we have learned from them, felt loved by them, and we find ourselves following their example more and more. The way of things is unfolding as it should.
When Carlos and Maggie were little guys, I would often ask them – Didn’t I find the very best dad in the whole wide world for you? They’d jump up and down to show their agreement.
Now they don’t do that, They grow quiet and I see their acknowledgement. They have come to see that you don’t need to agree with your dad all the time, to know for sure that he is the BEST DAD IN THE WORLD.