Since this post was originally published, I have gotten a lot of comments. I know that as a writer, I am expected to have a perfect writing style. Obviously, this is not perfectly written. It is a literal translation of the original eulogy which was written in Spanish. I decided to translate it literally ... though now, I'm not sure why....
I woke up thinking about my Dad this morning ... not that that's anything new. I have been waking up thinking about him every single day for the last 2,103 days. My Dad is my hero. In my eyes, he was Superman. I thought he just had to be! To me, he looked just like that guy on TV (George Reeves ... I grew up in the early 60's, and Superman, the black & white 50's era television series was running in re-runs). Because of this, I got into a fight in elementary school defending my truth.
It was probably my 7th or 8th birthday that was coming up and my parents were throwing me a birthday party. My Dad said I could invite anyone I wanted. I was elated. A few days later, at school, during our lunch period, I was telling a bunch of kids that my Dad, who was Superman, was throwing me a birthday party and that I could invite whomever I wanted. I added that he would be there as Superman. One girl said: "How can your father be Superman? Superman is white and your father is Puerto Rican."
I flew into a rage ... never mind that she made all kinds of sense! I was scared, but I rammed into her and we fell into a heap all arms and legs. No one cheered me on. No one but Dominick D. We are still friends today. Happy father's day Dominick!!
Today I want to honor "Superman"; my Dad, by sharing with you, the eulogy I wrote for him on September 18, 2005.
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September 18, 2005
Santa Isabel, PR
Pedro Juan **. He was a companion, husband, father, grandfather, great-granfather, brother, uncle, cousin, godfather, son and friend; born May * *, in Coamo, Puerto Rico. Son of Rosario * and Juan *. He was a good brother to Cornelio, Felipe, Claudina, Concepcion, Marcos, Baudilia and Jose Luis...better known as Guiso; as well as his adopted siblings Rolyn and Carmin. Husband and companion of Maria Mercedes for 58 years, raising four children: Raymond, myself, Papo and Cuca. Grandfather of Taina, Mimari, Peter and Ross; Rafael, Angel and Carmen. Great-grandfather of Dayne - the apple of his eye.
At the age of 24, he left PR to make a life for himself in NY, following his great love, making her his wife; his life companion. Learning English on his own and during more than 20 years, taking on menial jobs he never forgot his family in PR. Always remembering that maybe they were in need and always helping them the best he could even though he had his own ongoing struggle to raise his family.
If anyone in his family had a dream to live a better life in NY, my father, without reservation and without question opened his home giving more than 20 members of his family the opportunity to realize their dream and he was very happy when that dream was realized for that person.
My father loved it whenever someone in the family came to visit. But despite his struggles, he always maintained his faith in God, not only for himself but for those around him as well.
In 1979, he himself realized his dream to become the Sargent of Security for Rockefeller University in NY, retiring after 24 additional years of hard work. That was his dream job.
Pedro Juan * * was a man who lived for his family -- his wife and children. Any pain felt by us, you could count on him to give you sage advice and the strength to confront and resolve whatever it was that troubled you.
When he retired in 1993, he returned to PR and built his house exactly as he dreamed. He was so happy. He was happy because now he had the opportunity to be with his "other me" every day, all day and he dedicated himself to adjusting to his new life. Telling jokes, being mischievous, eating and giving orders. But all of that was done with love, a laugh and sometimes a toothless smile.
When my mother fell ill, that man almost died. Putting his faith before everything else, he would go to the hospital daily to take care of, comfort and show love to his companion-wife believing in God that she would rise from her sick bed. And so it was. Mami did rise and recuperated so that she could struggle with him.
My father suffered a stroke on June 22, 2005. My brother, Raymond, arrived there that same day. Supporting our mother, dealing with our father. While hospitalized, no one expected that he would return home. But he did.
My father died Thursday, September 15, 2005 at his dream house, with his wife at his side. But not before his last mischievous act ... he played with the water my mother lovingly offered him.
When his first granddaughter, Taina was born in 1980, that man was in the clouds. He didn't know what to do with himself. And when Tania was 27 days old, with his wife at his side, he took custody of his granddaughter, to begin anew in raising a family as if they were young again.
After Taina, my adored daughter, Mimari came. Mimari was the one that took him back to his childhood. Almost til the day he died, they spent time talking -- he counseling her and her telling him jokes. They got along like hand and glove. They would pull each other's leg, winding each other up.
Then came the boys ... Peter and Ross. His relationship with Peter was one of few words. Peter didn't speak Spanish well, but they learned to communicate with one another, primarily through their hearts. My father's only wish when it came to Peter was that even with all his travails, he finish High School. He knew that it would be hard for Peter, but he also knew that if Peter could achieve this, he would be "a man". Imagine his pride when the grandson he least expected, the one that everyone thought would be a failure graduated from high school. My father cried giving thanks to God. Peter wants everyone to know that his grandfather and grandmother, Mercedes could now be proud of him. Because they, my father and my mother supported him and gave him the strength and above all the love he needed to achieve this.
That was my Daddy.
When he did not expect any more grandchildren, Ross was born, Cuca's son. My father nicknamed him "Macho Man". The day that Ross was born, was the same day that our aunt, Saturna was to be buried. Ross is the grandchild of the future of this family.
That boy knows computers better than anyone I know. In the shadow of the pain of the death of our Aunt Saturna, the sun of the future of this family was born. Ross. My father recognized that in his grandson. He always spoke about him with love.
That was my father.
Pedro Juan * *
And you still ask yourselves why I called him Superman?
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I now have a grandson who still remembers his great-grandfather and will once in a while mention that he is now in Heaven. He remembers laying on his chest listening to his heartbeat the way I did as a child.
I hope Dayne will grow up to be like his great-grandfather: A loving, good hearted man who did not shy away from showing his love to others.
Happy Fathers Day to all fathers, biological or not. And to all the single mothers playing both roles.