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A conversation with a friend of mine earlier tonight brought to memory my dad, Jesse Garcia, who died when I was 10 years old.  Cancer was the guilty party and this happened in the Summer of 1983, June 19th to be exact.  It’ll be 27 years this June since he left us, and sometimes it really does feel like only yesterday that I was hanging out with the best, toughest, smartest man in the world.

Of course, at age 10, every dad is the smartest, toughest, most powerful man around, but my dad truly was a great man.  I have nothing but good memories about him and every time I hang out with my 70 year old mother, I drill her with questions about him that give me just a little bit more insight on who my dad really was.  Even though I was 10 when he passed away, i was still too young to retain solid memories.  There is a lot that is somewhat vague, which makes those conversations with my mom so valuable.

Like tonight, I sat with my mom for a couple of hours and learned about the initial diagnosis of his cancer.  I learned about how much pain my father had to endure and how strong my mom had to be for him.  I learned a little about what he wished for all of his sons and daughters and I witnessed a love that my mom still has for my dad even after being gone all these years.

So yeah, I have no problem expressing the sadness I sometimes feel when I recall not growing up with a father.  I can remember certain instances in life where having my dad by my side would have been awesome.  I remember being nominated for something in high school, and while all of the other students had their mom and dad waiting in line with them to go out on the football field, i stood there with only my mom.  I envied the others who had their dad standing there with them and I remember looking at my mom, trying to hold back my slightly tear filled eyes from leaking, and saying “Man, it sure would have been nice to have dad standing here with us right now, right mom?”.

When I see a father and son out in public and it’s evident that they’re not close, I sometimes want to go over and slap both of them in the back of the neck and tell them to snap out of it.  When I see a dad hanging out with his son(s) and enjoying his time with them and vise versa, I sometimes want to go over and shake his hand while letting his kids know how lucky they are.

I understand that not every family situation is perfect and there are probably some very good reasons why some people don’t grow up being close to their mom and dads.  I also know that certain situations take place later in life that put a wedge between us and our parents.  But whatever the case may be, I would give anything to be the 37 year old man that I am right now and have my dad in my life.  I would cherish and value every day that I could have with him and not take any of my time with him for granted.  I would still want to learn from him and simply be content with having someone in my life that I could call “dad”.

So whatever your case may be, and wherever you are in your relationship with your “dad” or father, I encourage you to do something different today.  Make a shift.  Step out and do something for him that you haven’t done for him in a long time.  Be the kid that he remembers you as and hug the crap out of him the next time you see him.  Buy him something that speaks volumes to the man.  Encourage him today.  Love him today.  And if you have to, forgive him today if he needs to be forgiven.  You don’t have to wait until father’s day to honor him and let him know that you were thinking about him.  Everyday can be father’s day.  Everyday.

– Hector