4: I Knew

4: I Knew

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Thanks Dad

I Knew

The most important things are the hardest to say,
because words diminish them.

~Stephen King

A couple of years ago on a warm summer day, my family gathered at my parents’ home to celebrate my oldest brother’s birthday. This was sort of a regular occurrence for our family, since there were five siblings and fifteen grandchildren, all of whom, at some time in their lives, had celebrated a special occasion there. Close friends of the family, including a priest known as Father Mike, were also present.

As my wife, kids and I walked up the driveway, we noticed a few adults sitting under the carport, a few adults standing by the barbecue pit, and most of the children running loose in the backyard. As my children ran quickly past me to be with their cousins, my wife and I began our rounds of greetings with everyone.

I walked up to my father, who was sitting next to Father Mike. His eyes were red and watery from standing over the barbecue pit preparing my brother’s birthday meal. We made eye contact, and my father greeted me with the universal acknowledgement that all male Hispanics give one another — a quick nod of the head in an upward motion, basically translating into “what’s going on” or “how’s it going.” I responded with the same head nod, and the gesture completed our greeting. Father Mike, obviously bothered by this, said to my father, “That’s no way to say hello to your son. Stand up and give your son a hug so he knows how much you love him.” Without hesitation, I spoke to Father Mike. “He doesn’t have to. I already know.” My father looked at the priest with the biggest grin and gave a small chuckle.

I am the youngest of three sons and my older brothers often comment on how easy I had it growing up. They were the guinea pigs for my father’s disciplining techniques. By the time it was my turn, my father had mastered the art of disciplining with a single stare — a stare that could stop me in my tracks and make me adjust my attitude.

That, of course, is not the only thing my father is about. He is a good man, with integrity and a strong work ethic. Throughout my childhood, and even into my adult years, my father’s actions demonstrated his love for me. For that reason, telling Father Mike “I knew” was something that I said with conviction.

I knew my father loved me when, as a young boy, he took the time to show me how to tie a fishing hook on my fishing line. I knew he loved me when, even when he didn’t want to, we came home early from our fishing trip because I was tired. I knew he loved me when he came home from work with a pack of basketball trading cards for my collection. He would watch me open the packages with excitement, then ask me if I got anything “good.” I knew he loved me when he took me to school on rainy days, never once complaining about being late for work. I knew he loved me when, during my high school basketball days, he yelled, “Use the backboard!” every chance he got. I knew he loved me when, during one of those basketball games, I fell to the floor with a twisted ankle and he ran from the bleachers to be at my side. I knew he loved me when he told me stories of how he grew up, and how I should do my best in school so I wouldn’t have to work so hard. I knew he loved me because, during my high school graduation, as soon as my named was called, he yelled, “Alright Adrian!” in front of hundreds of people.

I knew he loved me when he showed me how to change the brakes on my car for the first time. He said to me, “I’m only going to show you once, so you can learn.” Once was all it took. I knew he loved me when, right before I got married, he pulled me aside and told me, “You know you’re going to work for the rest of your life. Always take care of your family first.” I knew he loved me when he came as fast as he could any time I needed help within my own home. I knew he loved me when, on my birthday, he and my mother called me first thing in the morning and sang to me. I knew he loved me because he was always present when my children were born.

I am a blessed man to have a father like mine. There are others in this world who will never know these kinds of experiences. They will never know a man as good as my father, a man willing to give of himself, without complaint, and never expect anything in return. He is a good father, a good husband, but most of all, a good man. He has taught me to value what I have, to be good to people, to work hard, to love my wife and to be strong in whatever I do. Thank you, Dad, for being there for me. I am forever in your debt. I wish I knew how to repay you for all the things you have done for me. If you ever wonder whether or not I know how much you love me, don’t worry . . . I know.

~Adrian R. Soriano

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