With Father’s Day around the corner, I am compelled to reflect on long ago memories of four important dads in my life.
My mom’s hometown is Marfa,Texas, a small community not too far from Big Bend National Park in the southwestern part of the state. Most every Christmas growing up, my parents would pack the car with suitcases, gifts and goodies and head west for about sixteen hours to stay with my grandparents.
The drive seemed to always have its share of difficulties. I mean, there was the perfect storm of four restless, irritable, hungry kids in the back seat constantly whining, “I’m hungry!” or “I’ve got to go to the bathroom!” as the car chugged through the most desolate parts of Texas.
Finally, tired and weary, we would pull up to the old metal fence that surrounded Casa Zubiate, and through the gate with open arms would be mi familia, including my uncles Joel and Richard and my grandpa Sixto. I was immediately revived by their affection, and always looked forward to the hunting and hiking adventures they had in store for me, my siblings, and my cousins.
But much more than that, I was always eager to gather around Grandma Cruzita’s dining table and talk with them. No matter how young or old I was, they never made me feel unaccepted; everyone was invited to share food and conversation at the “Big Table”.
It was on these adventures and at this table with these four dads that I learned many lessons:
Coffee is good for the soul, especially when loaded with sugar and milk.
Laughter is a beautiful melody.
Climb a mountain in a circular path instead of straight up to conserve energy and to better enjoy the surroundings.
It’s okay to have differing opinions about things.
A proper target shooting range must include an empty can of Coors and a .22 rifle.
Taking care of multiple kids (sometimes as many as twelve) is a breeze with an ample supply of Hershey’s Chocolate and 7-UP!
Big egos are icky.
It’s okay to be real and to make mistakes.
A good story is priceless.
Devotion to God and family is imperative.
And finally, you’re never too young, or too old, to help Grandma with the dishes!
My grandpa passed away more than twenty years ago, but I am lucky to say the three remaining dads are still alive and kicking. I talk to my dad quite often, and have been fortunate enough to see my uncles through the years. When I am with them, I sometimes close my eyes, just to hear their voices. I swear it’s like salve to my soul.
It’s been an honor to have such great dads influence my life.
Happy Father’s Day