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!