[row][span size=’3′][slab_h5][slabtext]”A father is a man who expects his son[/slabtext][slabtext] to be as good a man as he meant to be.” [/slabtext][slabtext]– Frank A. Clark[/slabtext][/slab_h5][/span][span size=’5′] The earliest memory I have of my dad is one where he is arriving to my grandparents’ home and I back all the way up to the end of a long hall then run full speed at him and jump into his arms. This was part of the daily ritual until I was a teenager and got too big to throw myself at him without hurting him. However, this ritual did not take place every day. It only happened when I was back in our ancestral hometown for the summer vacation and for the holidays. The rest of the time, I lived with my mother and went to school. Still, the memories of dad are good.[/span][/row]
Like with my mother, my relationship with my dad was not what I consider a normal one. Other than the fact that I only saw him on school breaks (and those rare occasions when he showed up during the school year), there was also the feeling I got a lot of the time that I was in the way somehow. See, dad liked to go out with friends, and taking care of me fell to the responsibility of my grandparents when I was visiting him. It’s not like I needed a lot of oversight, really. I rarely got myself into trouble. But I don’t remember a time when he genuinely worried about where I’d get my next meal, or if my clothes would be clean. The grandparents would take care of that.
Mom and dad met when they were teens, and they had me in an era and a society where it was assumed that they were to be happy together only because of me, not because of any kind of compatibility. So they did’t stay together, and they did the best to make sure that I had all I needed. Mom did her best to ensure that I had a good education. Dad worked hard day in and day out to make sure I had all that I needed in a financial sense. Mom would teach me about education and life in the city. Dad would teach me how to fix things and life in a small town. They both contributed a lot to who I am.
The rest of the memories I have of dad are all about fun. We’ve been to the mountains, to the river. We’ve had adventures to a desolate part of New Mexico. And we both drove together from Texas to Pennsylvania when I graduated from college and got a job in a rural PA hospital. That adventure was the best. We headed into the unknown, without a place to arrive to in PA, and running short on cash. But we made it. I made it. And I’m here today.
Would my life have been different if he and mom had worked things out and stayed together? Sure, it would have been different, but I don’t know if it would have been better. Part of me thinks that it would, but another part thinks that it would have been worse. Who knows? Either way, it all worked out, and I owe a debt of gratitude to my dad.
See where the cup is from?
René F. Najera, DrPH
I'm a Doctor of Public Health, having studied at the Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health.
All opinions are my own and in no way represent anyone else or any of the organizations for which I work.
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