Marcando el Día de los Padres

yvette, border world girl

 

yvette benavidesBy Yvette Benavides

Father’s Day is coming. It bears mentioning since statistics show that compared to our madrecitas, our daddies get short shrift when it comes to honoring their important role in the family.

Mother’s Day is celebrated throughout Europe on the first Sunday of May. In the United States it has been celebrated since the late 1800s. Throughout Latin America, mothers are celebrated on various days in May. In Mexico, of course, the day is dies de mayo. The world-wide celebrations of mothers occur in May which is a time specifically dedicated to the Virgin Mary. It’s also perhaps the most beautiful time of year particularly because of delicate, blooming flowers, another symbol connected to our mothers.

In contrast, there really isn’t a día de los padres, per se celebrated throughout the world. And even in the United States where we celebrate ground hogs, dads get their day only as a kind of afterthought — one month after we’ve honored our deserving moms. June is a month of irrepressible, oppressive heat and the blooms are desiccate, dusty memories. The first official father’s day didn’t even happen until 1966.

According to the website menstuff.org, statistics show that since that first Father’s Day, the celebrations for dads have been overshadowed by the ones for moms. Hallmark sees the sale of 150 million cards for moms and only 95 million for dads.

Mother’s day is celebrated like a kind of religious holiday. We call mom up or shower her with flowers and gifts.

And dad? 8 million dads get neckties on Father’s Day.

I wonder if our slighted fathers aren’t the result of a broken society. If a father doesn’t comport himself as such, why should he be honored? But then why should all dads llevarla?

What about the households where mom and dad both strive to make the house a home for the family?

Growing up in the ’60s and ’70s I was one of the lucky ones. My dad was very present. He was indefatigable when it came to fulfilling his responsibilities for his family. He set a rare example of a relentless work ethic.

Though he was a man who did not show emotion, it was easy to discern what roused his dry sense of humor. And we all knew he loved us.

More than anything else, my father had faith in his children. He offered us the tools needed to reach certain goals on our journey through life. The rest was up to us.

Even in his death, he managed to do this. As a family we witnessed his struggle with a long merciless illness and then a merciful death. I was 30 years old, and his was the first funeral I ever attended.

Today I feel that even all of that was a lesson from him to impart to me to be fuerte and to sobrevivir and continue on the journey to which he had so lovingly guided me.

On June 19th, I’ll remember my dad. How he never missed a day of work. How he prized education above all other things for his children. His silly chistes. How Cantinflas and “El Gorde y el Flaco” (Laurel and Hardy) made him laugh a carcajadas. How he loved my mother. How his last words to us all were that he loved us.

If my dad were here, I might treat him to lunch or give him a card or some small gift. Maybe. But I would thank him for always being a good father. I would definitely say the words to him if I could.

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And one more from Yvette

Here is an excerpt from an essay about her husband as a father to their daughter, Christianna.

My father, who passed away in 1996, was a man who liked what he liked. And my husband is the same way. But that’s where the similarities end.

My dad liked Antonio Bribiesca. David admires The Ramones. My father wore a tie to work everyday. David does not enjoy socks. My father got up before the sun, at the same time everyday. David does not wear a watch.

My father was a homebody, traveling only to his beloved beach in Port Aransas once a year, and rarely ever venturing any place else. David loves to travel, and if it weren’t for the tendencies I inherited from my father to stay close to home, he would have married me atop Machu Picchu.

Click this link to read the whole essay.

Yvette Benavides teaches English composition and literature at Our Lady of the Lake University in San Antonio, Texas. With her husband, she co-hosts “Texas Matters”on Texas Public Radio. You can read her blog at Borderworld Girl.

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By Contributor on June 16, 2011 · Posted in the habla habla

10 Comments | Post Comment

Helenation says:

Hi Yvette, what a beautiful and moving essay :) You made me remember that as we grew up on Mother’s day my Dad would say we also had to congratulate him and on Father’s day we had to congratulate our Mom “porque sin Padre no hay Madre y viceversa”. At the time I thought it was funny but it has stayed with me and every mother’s day I congratulate him and we laugh. In our family it was important to honor both as they shared in raising us.

Posted on June 16th, 2011

Carla says:

So beautifully put. It sounds like he gave you amazing gifts. And I can totally relate to the differences between your father and your husband. My husband and mi abuelo (who raised me) are both men with immense kindness in their hearts and that’s the end of similarities. Like you my abuelo never missed a day of work, rose before the sun (but he loved to travel). My husband shudders at the idea of rising early and prefers to stay close to home. Looking forward to reading more from you =)

Posted on June 16th, 2011

Yvette says:

Hi, Helenation,
Thanks for this comment and for sharing your sweet story about congratulating your father and mother. That he would make sure to include your mother in that expression of gratitude and that celebration says a lot about him. I hope you enjoy this special weekend coming up.

Posted on June 16th, 2011

Yvette says:

Hi, Carla, you know, the funny thing is that over the years my husband has become more and more like my father in his work ethic and self-discipline. That has been another interesting thing to observe. I’m grateful to you for reading my words and for sharing with me that you can relate. That means a lot to me.

Posted on June 16th, 2011

Bren says:

okay i had NO idea that Father’s Day wasn’t even initiated until the 60s. That’s quite sad. I mean really. Yes our MOTHER’S are the best and they set the standard and make the world go round; but without our father’s, we wouldn’t be here! And the whole necktie gift is so passe! We’ve lost all sense of originality! :) There’s so much we can get our papi’s!! :) Great read, Yvette. Looking forward to reading more !:)

Posted on June 16th, 2011

Sujeiry, 1st Lady of Love says:

This hit home for me. Honestly, like most people, I don’t place as much important on Father’s Day as I do Mother’s Day. Then again, my father hasn’t been a consistent presence in my life. Mami was mami y papi for a very long time. I imagine a lot of people feel the same.

Posted on June 16th, 2011

Yvette says:

Bren,
Oh, yes, I know what you mean. We don’t run out of metaphors for our mothers: they are the glue, the reason, the inspiration, the wind beneath our wings (to borrow a phrase made cliche by overuse, but still full of meaning). Your comment reminds me that it was always kind of difficult to shop for dad. My daughter made a card for her dad for this year’s Father’s Day, and then decided she wanted to buy one, too. I thought it was interesting that in a lot of ways, her gift will be words of gratitude–her own and then the card she bought that she thinks will make him laugh. She also wants to help me cook his favorite meal. Time together. That seems priceless, right? I really, really appreciate your comment. Thanks so much.

Posted on June 16th, 2011

Yvette says:

Sujeiry,
Thanks for writing this. I agree with you: I imagine a lot of people feel just this way about mothers who must be both mother and father. I know this was the experience of my own mother and my suegra–both of them, daughters of super strong women–single mothers who with very little means worked so hard and loved and cared so well and gave their children the world. I have a friend who has told me often that her single father has been both father and mother to her for her entire life.

We are blessed to have parental love and support and to carry those influences with us.

I really appreciate your comment, Sujeiry.

Posted on June 16th, 2011

Abuelita says:

Yes Ivette you still can thank your Father with your heart & your mind or say it like he is there next to you,se que te va a oir.
Muy lindo tu escrito.

Posted on June 18th, 2011

Yvette says:

I think you are so right, Abuelita. We thank our loved ones and honor their memories by working hard and by using their positive influences in our own lives. Thank you for your kind and beautiful words, Abuelita, and for reminding us so eloquently that our loved ones are always with us.

Posted on June 21st, 2011