Celebrating My Dad with Gratitude

Uncategorized Dec 01, 2023

Almost a year has passed since my father went into the hospital for Covid. Without going into too many details, he suffered an accident in the hospital and passed away two months later. We had a celebration of life for him in the spring, and I thought I would share my speech here, so that you can know and celebrate him along with me. 


All of my life I have seen my dad through a daughter’s lens. 

He took his role as a father seriously and filled it perfectly. 

Like the time he drove me and my boys to Mexico to reunite with my husband Octavio. We packed up my little two door Nissan, carved out little spaces for the boys to sit amongst the boxes of household items, and hit the road to drive from Santa Clara, California, to Nogales, Mexico. We drove for two days, and then met with Octavio just after crossing the border into Mexico. My dad was a great road trip buddy. I felt safe with him, even as we searched in the border town for the least sketchy hotel, where we finally settled in for the night. We enjoyed a delicious breakfast of chilaquiles the next morning and then said goodbye as he got on the next bus back to California. He did that all without batting an eye. He did that for me, and my family, because that is just who he was.

I knew nothing different than a father who provided for his family, volunteered at school functions, coached soccer teams, helped with homework, listened to funny music (our name for classical music), drove us all around town (and all around the country), set boundaries for us, and even when we pushed those boundaries as hard as we could, he held firm, because he cared and would do anything to protect us. I may not have liked it then, but I understand now.

He always had the answers. Even if nobody knows, dad knows. 

We’re talking pre Google here, so it was very handy to have a father who just always knew. 

How he knew - that obscure thing, or fact, or subject matter, was a mystery to me, but having an all knowing father was pretty amazing. 

You could call him up for anything - a recipe or question about a cooking technique, a computer problem, to do my taxes, a question about travel, or current events, or historical events…you name it. Dad knows!

I would often say, “How in the world do you know that?” And he would get that smirk - you know the one, the smirk that told you that he was absolutely tickled with himself. He might even start bouncing up to his tiptoes and swinging his arms back and forth. 

All of this seen through my daughter’s lens is one thing. 

But the past few months - being with him in the hospital and seeing the love, and support, and hearing the stories from all of you, I started to see him as a man. 

A Renaissance Man, his boss and close friend said.

A man of substance, said his doctor. 

People said that he was such a good, and kind man. 

People who may have at first been intimidated, soon learned that he was curious about them, and eager to share stories and find a way to connect. 

As a daughter, I took his depth and layers for granted. 

I worried about how his prickliness would affect him out in the world - I mean if you were standing in his way when it was time for him to get something out of the oven - you’d better watch out. 

But you all showed me that you saw him - the real him. 

You saw a kind and loving man. 

You saw a man who loved the finer things in life:  food, art, culture, music.

You saw a man who, at 76 years old, still had a lot to contribute, so you allowed him to do just that. 

I stand here before you filled with gratitude:

Gratitude that my dad was seen and heard and appreciated. 

Gratitude that I had him in my life for fifty years. 

Gratitude that he met my mother and decided that he wanted five kids - and followed through! 

Gratitude for the legacy and loving family that he leaves behind.

Gratitude that he was in such a positive place when he passed - he loved his job, his community, and the impact he was able to make. He was proud.

Gratitude for the pieces of me that remind me of him - my wanderlust spirit, my creativity, and even my stubbornness.

Gratitude for the way he loved and accepted my husband and the way they shared their love of strange foods. Oftentimes if we were coming over for dinner he would have a specially prepared treat for just the two of them. He would greet us at the door and excitedly pull Octavio into the kitchen to reveal a pan of seared chicken hearts. Or a plate of muscles. And of course they would round it out with a shot of nice mezcal. 

Gratitude for having him as a father and grandfather to my kids.

Gratitude for each and every one of you, for the love and support you have shown our family, both in life and in death.

Thank you, for being here to celebrate his life with us, and for giving me a new appreciation for the brilliant man I was lucky to call Dad. 

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