14 January 2012

Felíz Cumpleaños, Dad!

My dearest father, from whom I have been given the heart that beats its music for you,

I was out having my morning coffee/smoke and was thinking about you this morning, and I realized with some regret that I have not used what some people call my gift of writing to compose words for you that are so important and long past due in needing to be said.

In the past, I have used my writing ability to vent, air frustrations, blast, surprise, hurt, and wound people, including you. But for all of my life and all of the little cards and things I've made for father's days or birthdays, I realized I have never tried to compose something that would be of value to me in passing on to you.

Now that I have grown older and I can no longer see the value of using my ability to air gripes, as well as cringing fiercely at my past for having done so, I'd rather tell you what you mean to me, what your presence in my life has done for me, how your passion and culture and influence on me has built my very identity, and how very much I appreciate it. It is the very essence of me--you.

No doubt you have wondered, in the days thus far in your own life, how someone you took in your arms and raised as your only daughter could surprise you in such monumental ways. Both in negative ways and positive ways. I feel like I have been responsible for a great deal more of the negative than the positive, but this time and for future times, I hope this to be a positive thing, because I am tired of being negative. As to the ways that have been negative, all I can say for myself is that I feel much sorrow over being a dumbass.

Fortunately for me, you were right about the stages I would come to in my life: the teens being that awkward and angsty life stage where there is a general contempt for all things ungratifying; the twenties being when you start to realize your parents aren't completely unreasonable but your are still fighting all of your ideals; and now in my newbie 30s being a shift in the tide of change where I can already sense that what I learned in my 20s, I can either throw away or apply it to my life.

I have been looking forward to my 30s and 40s because I heard that's where a person really, truly lives what they've learned. And for me, ever since Kyle was sick, when I was in my twenties, I felt like I had lived twice but suffered the frustration of not being taken seriously and being disrespected no matter what I did or how hard I tried to carry myself with grace and dignity.

But you have always treated me with respect and dignity. And you have taught me things I will never forget and which I pass onto my children. Even though I am unworthy of such love, it is because of your love that I am able to understand just a sliver of the kind of love God must have for each one of us. I am able to love my children in the same way. You have taught me how deeply children are to be loved because it emminated from you and underlined everything; so now it is the foundation that underlines my girls' lives.

I know that the boys have taken more opportunities than I have to tell you I love you and solidify the bond between each of you, and I know we have taken moments to do the same, but I don't think that, for the entirety of my adult life, I have taken the time to tell you just like this, in this way, in these words, in MY way what you are to me and what you mean to me.

You are my father, my reason for being alive. Without you, I would not be here. Without your presence in my life, I would not be who I am. I would not be made up of every good thing you have taught me and that I have learned.

It's true that any prick can have a baby, but it takes a real man to be a daddy. You are that daddy. So many people I know whose fathers were absent in their lives. They have to struggle with love, acceptance, even relationship compatibility. They have to struggle with self identity, self worth. If I ever struggled with those things, it was because of decisions I made or from living so damned far away, which created its own insecure monster at the time; not because of you. People with more family around have been more insecure than me because I realized being a Cazares means being a survivor. I was always able to draw strength from my deepest laid roots and remember that as crappy as it was to not have family around, I was able to quit feeling sorry for myself, lift my chin from the mess, and see that you were always there.

I also know that, maybe, as you read this, things I have said in the past will come back to contradict themselves and that, as recently as last year, have slapped you with my words and been wrong. There have been so many times I have wanted to say I'm sorry for, but the times when I have disrespected you are what bring me the most shame. There are specific moments in my life and in yours that I've wanted to speak for. For having been a brat, a red-headed step-child-like temperament, an insecure waffle trying to cover up my insecurities. For blaming my insecurities on you. For forgetting where I came from. For not talking to you more often over the years. For allowing myself to be influenced by everyone and everything all the time when that is NOT what you taught me to do.

I am a survivor.

Because of you.

You are a pillar of strength and resolve; it has taught me how to be strong and have resolve.

When I think of you, I am a stronger person. I forget my weaknesses and insecurities and remember where I came from.

When I think of you, I remember where I came from.

Our family and our blood line has been blessed with these strengths and I cannot forget them; but for you and me, on the eve of the anniversary of the day you were born, I celebrate another survivor being born and recall with profound richness all that you have taught me to be.

I will never forget this.

You are my role model, my hero, my teacher, and the very reason for my existence. You wisdom, your knowledge, your humility is awe-inspiring and I am humbled and excited that I am the one who gets to call you "Dad." I miss you. I wish we were closer. I think we have a reservoir of love between us that remains not fully tapped because of the distance, but I have confidence that it will not dry up. I love, you, Daddy, and I wish you a very happy birthday.

All my love,
Amy Maria

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