On May 17th in 1944, a multitude of historical events occurred including:
- Allied air raid on Surabaja, Java
– Chinese/US Armed Forces take Myitkyina Airport, Burma
– General Eisenhower sets D-Day for June 5th
– Operation Straightline: Allies land in Neth, New-Guinea
- Fernando Rodriguez was born (– that’s my dad!)
It’s kind of funny to me that the events that happened on the day of my father’s birth are referred to as “historical” – bygone, old, ancient. Although the number 70 sounds old, my father – Fernand0 – is anything but. If you met him, you would agree. Aside from the gray hairs his stress-inducing children (that would be me…) caused over the years and his large old-school metal framed glasses, he doesn’t look like he’s aged since some time in the late 1980’s. Okay, maybe mid-90’s. The sun and elements may have worn his skin down a bit, his Parkinson’s may have his hands subtly shaking at all hours of the day, his eyes may look tired, but those are just minor physical things. His spirit, his heart, his mind – they’re all still incredibly young, strong, bold, and full of life. He’s going to easily live to be over 110. I just know it.
And now, a letter to my dad.
I’m going to do my best to translate the warm emotions and feelings I have into words that will truly communicate how much I love and appreciate you. If there’s something I’ve struggled with my whole life, it has been the ability to communicate how I feel – especially to people who matter. But I want you to know, I want everyone to know how profoundly proud I am to say that I’m Daddy’s girl.
Thank you, Daddy, for showing me how to love deeply. Your love for us isn’t always expressed in words, but it doesn’t need to be. It emanates from your very being and cloaks us so intensely that we feel it, your grandchildren feel it, and outsiders can see it.
Love is the way you patiently feed Eliora, spoonful after spoonful, while telling her sweet things encouraging her to eat. Love is the way you patiently sit with her, helping her scoot around in circles, not only keeping her safe but making her feel safe. You never see obstacles, road blocks, or giant brick walls when it comes to medical equipment she needs. Instead you say “no problem, I can make that”.
Love is the way you call me everyday just to say hi, to check on the kids, to tell me a story. I’m horrible about calling and returning phone calls, and while you may lovingly call me out on that (rightfully so), you never hold it against me. You just keep calling me and let me know you’re always thinking about us.
Love is the way you make lunch for BJ every single day so that he eats something at work. Love is the way you see a need of ours and you meet it, even if you can’t afford it. You do it anyway.
Love is the way you wash Asher’s hair so gently and carefully so that he doesn’t cry or get overwhelmed. A task that is impossible for most everyone except you. Love is the way you follow him around, giving him everything he needs, making sure he lacks nothing.
Thank you, Daddy, for teaching us about excellent work ethic while simultaneously teaching us about sacrifice. I’ll admit there are times I felt sad that my dad worked day and night, but my heart is full because I see, know, and understand everything you did for our family, all the sacrifices you and Mom made to make sure we ate, were clothed, had shelter, and that our needs were met.
I cannot imagine the struggles you faced as a man with many skills yet hindered by a language barrier. I cannot imagine the guilt you may have felt as you missed activities and interaction with your children. I can’t imagine the financial burdens, the constant stress, the hardships. But know that it was all worth it. Everything you did, all the sacrifices you made, all the hard physical labor you put in over many, many years was all worth it. I have such a strong admiration and appreciation for you, for your motivation and drive, for your dedication and determination. I wouldn’t change my upbringing for anything. It was perfect and I had, still have the best dad.
Thank you, Daddy, for your funny sayings, your life lessons, your purposeful stories and cautionary tales. My favorite one will always be about procrastination – if you have to eat one orange every day and you continue putting it off saying “I’ll just eat an extra orange tomorrow”, you’ll one day be faced with 30 oranges and you just can’t eat that many. I may have shortened it a bit, but it’s one I have saved up to use with my children when they are older.
Thank you, Daddy, for always believing in me, challenging me, and supporting me in everything I do. You always ask about my business, my hobbies, the things that fire me up. You foster my creativity by talking to me about ideas, about possible business ventures, about your own hobbies and crafts. You make me feel like I’m capable of doing anything and I know that you’ll always be there for me.
You never fail to make me feel special, even when I’m falling apart and feel like the world doesn’t hear me or see me. Thank you.
You have so many gifts and talents. You can find a solution to absolutely anything. If I come to you with a problem, you find a solution and make it seem so clear and simple that I wonder how I didn’t think of that in the first place.
You can make anything out of anything. You see potential in every day items, you see what something can become, you don’t view things as trash but as a tool or supply for something great. Your imagination and creativity is absolutely amazing with skills to match.
You are passionate and full of heart. I can see it in the way you interact with others, in the work you do at any job you’ve held, in the way you cook your one-of-a-kind meals, the way you craft and build the items you make for Eliora. When you do something, you give it your everything.
You never hold grudges, you forgive and forget easily, you give second and third chances. This is one of my favorite things about you. You open your heart even after it’s been hurt, you don’t remind us of the hurtful things we’ve done, you just move on and look to the future.
I am so blessed to have you as my father and so thankful that my children have you as a grandfather. We love you dearly and wish you the best 70th birthday.