Today is an important day for me.
It is Father’s Day in the United States. This year, for the first time, I am a father. Today my mom brought me a special gift. She waited to give it to me until I became a father. It was something that belonged to my dad. It was a decoration that read, “behind every good kid is a great dad.” Although I wasn’t always the best, my dad was incredible.
My dad did the right thing even when it was difficult to do so. He wanted to help school children in Peru by providing them buses. He didn’t have a lot of money at the time, so he took out an extra loan on his house to buy the used buses. He delivered them to Peru and he was supposed to get reimbursed for it. The school sent the money to Pancho, my dad’s Peruvian partner. Pancho refused to pay my dad back. The case went to Peru’s supreme court. Although my dad won, Pancho put all the money in his wife’s name to avoid having to pay my dad.
Despite all that, Pancho wanted his daughter, Emily, to have a better life. My dad agreed to bring Emily to the United States. Emily stayed with my family for several months. My dad felt it was the right thing to help Emily out despite her dad. That was really hard on my parents because they were very poor at the time. They didn’t have enough money to put food on the table for my brother and me. My dad took on three jobs to support all of us and to pay off the debts. It was really hard on him. In particular, one of his bosses would regularly yell at my dad when my dad would ask to get paid. The boss made it painfully difficult for anyone to get their paycheck.
His hard work and determination paid off. The banks saw that my dad was going to pay them back even when it was hard for him to do so. Thus, the banks supported my dad’s first apartment building project in Forest Lake. Although, it wasn’t an easy road, eventually the business started to grow.
Years later, my dad and I got to grow the business together. It was a lot of work. But it was fun doing it together. I remember one special day just a couple months before his stroke. We were dealing with some particularly stressful issues trying to get an apartment project approved. At around lunch he invited me to his favorite fast food restaurant, Dairy Queen. He knew life was short and wanted to cherish some moments with me. Internally, I felt like we had too much to do to take time out for lunch. But I remember thinking, no. Instead, I should enjoy this moment. It was one of the last quiet moments shared between me and my dad. And it is one that I will never forget.
My dad never got to meet my daughter. He desperately wanted to be a grandpa. Even though Claire will never meet my dad, Claire has a part of my dad inside her. My dad taught me to be curious and to try and figure out the world. Even though Claire is only 4 months old, I can see that same spark in her.
My dad’s life was cut short because of brain cancer. But his legacy lives on as long as we continue to live by the values he held so dear. I hope that I can live a life that truly honors my dad.