This past October, I posted this photo to facebook with the description “My dad and I….reunited after 18 years.” Several people had asked about the story behind it all, and I always meant to share it, but I kept putting it off. There were some things I still needed to deal with, and I wanted to see where things went with my father and I. In the time between then and now, I’ve also noticed the change that Mateo has effected on me. Well, I am ready to share.
It is said that time heals all wounds, and I do believe that. I’ve never been shy in sharing that my dad and I barely had a relationship. He left my family when I was 7 years old, and he hung around in the periphery. As a child, I didn’t understand why he left, and I tried to have a relationship with him, but things never lasted. We tried several times, but the results were always the same. Eventually, I stopped trying. Oh, I made efforts, but they were half-hearted at best. I just didn’t think anything would come of it.
When dad filed for divorce from my mom, I urged her to sign them as quickly as possible. I wanted her to be free to move on, and in a way, I saw my opportunity as well. A decade had passed from the time he had left, so I told my mom that it was time. Dad remarried after that, and life went on.
We talked a few times on the phone, but they were very short calls. When I was at MIT, I did ask him to buy me a computer, and he did. To be honest, I was surprised, but thankful. When dad and my step-mom (Monica) had Roy, I was happy for them, but I stayed away. As the years passed, I was jealous of Roy, and the life dad was providing for him. I had those questions – “why him? why not me?” Later on, when they had Viviana, I realized I stopped asking those questions. I realized that I wanted to have that relationship again. Or at least try.
Along the way, I had forgiven my dad. I didn’t care about the past. Too many years had passed. Jesus helped me in dealing with the pain, the hurt, the muck.
Then God blessed Nicole and I with Mateo, and He taught me another lesson. I learned what it means to be a dad. I love Mateo dearly,and I have gone through a wide range of emotions. I have laughed, loved, and worried. We are blessed that I am able to stay home with Mateo, and it has been rewarding. I have played, read, fed, cleaned, soothed, consoled…you get the idea. Along the way, my desire to reach out and repair broken relationships got stronger. Especially the one with my dad. Ever since I met my little brother Roy in July 2011, I have had it in my head to try again. When Mateo was born, we sent my dad’s family an announcement. I heard from my older
sister and brothers that it made dad happy. He called me to offer congratulations, and I was happy. So, when we planned Mateo’s dedication, I sent dad an invitation. I didn’t expect him to attend, but we wanted him to know. When we had the RSVPs, my sister Linda and her family said they were coming down.
They arrived on Saturday, and we said our hellos. Nicole’s family was already here, so everyone caught up while passing Mateo around. Then my sister asked me to help her bring in her computer from the car, and I asked why my nephew David couldn’t do it. She said her reason (I don’t remember what it was, but I do remember rolling my eyes, so it must have been weak.) Not wanting to argue – or get beaten – I said sure. We walked out front, and Linda made the comment that she was going to buy the house next door to us, and without looking, I explained that it wasn’t for sale. The For Sale sign was for the next house. She then said, no, I’m buying that house and pointed to my left. By this point I was in the street, so I turned and saw my dad standing there.
My dad. Right there. Smiling.
Suddenly, the years melted away. I felt like a toddler running to his daddy. I don’t know how long we hugged, and I don’t care. I just know that my dad was there. I finally got to meet my stepmom, and my little sister. My two brothers were there, along with Chuy’s family. It was the first time in many, many years that we were all in one place. When we walked in the house, I couldn’t wait for Mateo to meet his abuelo. Although it was initially rocky (Mateo cried for a moment. We aren’t sure why), they quickly bonded.
That weekend was a great. We reconciled. We bonded. We started the rebuilding process.
In the time since then, my dad and I have talked on the phone several times. We’ve kept in touch. He always sends greetings and love to Mateo and Nicole. He sends greetings to my in-laws as well.
I’m happy with this. We’ve moved on with our relationship. And I look forward to seeing where it goes.
Has it been easy? No. But Jesus has been leading me the whole way. He is teaching me to be a better father. One of those lessons lies in being a better son. Forgiveness, reconciliation, love.
What else will I learn?
“And he will turn the hearts of fathers to their children and the hearts of children to their fathers” (Malachi 4:6a ESV)