Friday, June 15, 2012

Remembering Daddy on Father's Day

My father died May 12, 2009. I miss him every single day, so I thought I'd post this story I wrote about him in 1994. It may still belong to the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, but the words are mine, straight from my heart.

Living memories of a father's love

By Elizabeth Zavala
La Estrella/Star-Telegram
June 17, 1994

We're supposed to remember and revere our fathers on Father's Day.

What a strange concept. One day out of the year to honor someone who spent the majority of their years molding the children they helped create grow up to be adults.

Someone whose guidance, love, sharing thoughts and posing questions impacts the development of someone who would one day walk in their footsteps and carry on in their shadow as a decent human being and make some kind of contribution to the world in which they live.

Just one day for all of that responsibility?

With Father's Day approaching, I thought I would use this old blog of mine to remember my Daddy. I wrote this when I was editor of La Estrella, then the weekly bilingual section of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. This ran June 17, 1994.
I think about my father every day. But unfortunately, I don't see him every day.

Luis Paez Zavala is 74-years-old. He was married to my mother exactly 45 years and one week before she died four years ago.

He lives in San Antonio in the home where I grew up, on land given to he and my mother as a wedding present from my maternal grandparents.

Each time I go home, the memories of his gentle caring and love ring in my thoughts.

I remember the slam of the car door. The dog barks. I hear the footsteps up the driveway, up the stairs. The side door opens with a screech.

"¿De quien es la reina chula," [to whom does this little princess belong to, loosely translated] he would ask me.

"De Daddy,"  I would say.

For as long as I can remember, my father asked me that question everyday when he would come home from work.

And work he did. He supported my mother and four children. There wasn't anything we didn't have. He and my mother made us comfortable, kept us fed, clothed and always talked to us, encouraging us to share our thoughts.

Ever faithful, always there whenever I need him with a laugh and a smile, I can recall my father getting angry with me only twice in my life. Each time it happened, he remained calm, never striking me. In fact, neither parent ever spanked me, and that's not to say that I never deserved a good swat.

But just hearing the words "I'm disappointed" was as if he knocked me over, without even touching me.

It isn't that my dad taught me to think or what to say, but just being himself made an impression on me that showed me how I should be. His words, his actions, his faith, hope, honesty and love instilled in me the hope, with all of my heart, that I can live up to the expectations that I imposed on myself, but through his example.

Probably one of the best things my father taught me is how to express myself. He always said, and still says, to be honest, with myself and others. His words live inside of my head, and my heart.

Nowadays, Dad is pretty far away. Those footsteps on the driveway that I hear are my own, walking toward the mailbox, opening the door with a screech.

I'll open up a card, sent on my birthday or those other special occasions that my father never forgets. They'll be full of those words and phrases that he taught me to look for if I couldn't write them myself.

And there, written by his hand that is still big and strong, but gentle and full of his love and laughter reads, "De quien es la reina chula?"

"De Daddy," I still say, but quietly to myself.

Happy Father's Day, Daddy!

Friday, September 03, 2010


Remember her?
Believe it. That was five years ago.
The death, devastation and especially the images of it all remain some of the most unbelievable I had ever seen in newspapers, or online, which is likely why The Dallas Morning News won a Pulitzer Prize for their images.
I spent this week riveted to the TV between CNN and The Weather Channel, watching Hurricane Earl and Fiona, and Gaston (??) form in the Atlantic and head for the East Coast.
Watching, but not being part of the news process is difficult. It's like being all dressed up with no place to go.
That's OK. The search for a job continues, and I'll keep getting dressed up, regardless whether I have a place to go or not.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Entrepreneurial journali$m

It's expensive.
I bought a new printer today that scans, copies and faxes in full color because the straight-up fax machine was cheaper, but the ink cartridge is, by far, almost more than the fax machine once you buy three inkjets.
So, now, I have two printers, one that does all the above, and another one that scans, copies and prints photographs.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Didn't see it coming

"Mija, no llores enfrente de ellos."
That means, "My daughter, do not cry in front of them."
It was as if my mom came down from heaven and was standing over my shoulder when my former executive editor told me the news.
I have to remind myself of the last day I worked as a newspaper reporter, just so that I can gauge someday where I have been for when I arrive exactly where I want to be.
It wasn't expected, for sure, that I would be alerted that I was being laid off and my last day would be in a week.
In a way, that was really a godsend -- I was too busy writing stories to think anymore about whether or not my time was up.
I was a victim of the McClatchy policy -- last in, first out. My departure was their sixth layoff at the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. There were no rumors this time, and only 15 of us walked out the doors.
I am thankful that I was busy -- too busy to really wonder whether or not we would have cuts again, so I am glad that I was so engaged in my job, which I loved.
Just coming off a two-story Sunday package on domestic violence, I immediately started researching another story that I had hoped to write and get in the paper within two to three weeks. (A luxury these days to have that much time, but that's a different blog post). So when I was called in Thursday afternoon, Aug. 5, I was shocked.
So, there were no tears, really, just a lot of anger. Whether it was my mom, or my dad, that's good, because six weeks of severance won't pay for a pity party. There's bills and a mortgage to be paid.
The outpouring so far from friends and former colleagues has been really amazing, astonishing, every possible adjective out there to describe greatness, really.
The best thing that has happened to me so far is to find out that there are lots, I mean LOTS of journalism jobs out there.
That's the best news out of all of this, that there's still journalism jobs out there for those of us who just can't and choose not to walk away.
That gives me hope for the free world.

Friday, August 27, 2010

"Punch me in the face if you want, but I promise, things will work out."

Wise words from my pal, Monique Miller.
All this extra time between looking for jobs made me reflect and realize a few things.
The last day I was employed as a professional journalist, Aug. 13, 2010, came 25 years and one day after I walked across the stage at Texas Woman's University in Denton to receive my bachelor's degree.
How ironic was that?
Needless to say, the coincidence took my mind back to certain points throughout my career and life since 1985. I quickly thought about the words of advice I have heard from friends and colleagues since Aug. 13:
--"Your career does not define you."
--"This was not because of something you did."
--"It wasn't personal, but financial. A business decision."
--"Everything happens for a reason."
--"Punch me in the face if you want, but I promise, things will work out." (thanks, precious).
--"I'm here for you." (My God, I'm in awe of you all).
And all of you were right! Thank you for helping me keep my spirits up. You have no idea how much you have helped me.
In two weeks, I have found two contract/freelance opportunities that mean paychecks until November. Both in journalism.
My glass is, as always, half full.
To recap: Jobs applied for so far: Six. Three in print journalism; one in broadcast; two wire services.
So, happy Friday. I'm taking the rest of the day off to work on my tan.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

This just in...

Ah, pings and clicks, how I love thee.
"Ping" is the sound when the e-mail goes off on the iPhone, alerting new mail.
"Click" is the sound the screen button should make when one checks mail or applies online for jobs. Both have led to two job opportunities, today!
I will begin a fill-in editing job on The Dallas Morning News Metro Desk on Sept. 13, lasting at the very least four weeks, at the most maybe three months. So grateful.
Plus, friends at have hooked me up for some freelancing possibilities.
These are very nice detours on the journey to the next job.
Networking all these years is paying off with job tips and well wishes filled with love and care from friends.
So far, five jobs applied for in print, radio broadcast and wire services.
There's really a lot more out there in journalism than I thought.
Friday will be two weeks since the layoff; I remain optimistic, especially with at least three months of guaranteed work secured.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

iPhone woes and other stuff

If you have an iPhone 3G, think very carefully before you do, and make sure you have ALL DAY to do it.
I updated my little 8GB and it did take a little more than an hour -- it took five hours, in fact, tying up both iPhone and laptop, taking precious time in the job search.
My jury is still out on whether or not I'll like iPhone 4.0, but I will say that the e-mail application grouping multiple emails from people is kinda cool. Online reviews say they'll work great for a few days, then the iPhone will crash. Oh goodie. Can't wait for that, I guess AT&T will get their way when they force me to buy a new phone because the update won't take on mine.
DFW Metro runners, swimmers and cyclists?
Went to have dinner with the running team recently, and the girls I hung out with are now training for triathlons. The pressure was on. I don't have a road bike, plus I freak out in open water, so there's two reasons I can't start training for a tri. I'll stick to the pavement.