When I was about ten, give or take a few years, I watched my Dad get arrested. He wasn’t wearing any shoes.
It was Easter Sunday morning. He was freshly showered, his thick black hair combed, his cologne barely masking the booze that came out of his pores from the night before. He was likely hungover but cheery. Maybe he knew my mom was mad at him for coming home drunk again and was over compensating with niceties. We were living at my Grandma’s house – my mom’s mom—and getting ready for a day of Easter egg hunts and a family bar b q.
My mom and dad started arguing. “Please don’t make him mad, mom,” I begged in my mind, but the argument escalated nevertheless, as it always did. My parents’ face-offs were rarely physical but the shouting and crying were enough to make my siblings and I steer clear. This particular time my Grandmother intervened; hysterical, Gramma called my aunt, who was a dispatcher at the Sunnyside Police Department.
My Dad had gone to jail before and many times after but this time stands out vividly as it was the first and only time I watched as my dad was arrested, handcuffed and put in the back of the patrol car. He still wasn’t wearing any shoes.
My Dad’s demons with drug abuse and alcoholism cost him his family and ultimately his life. He died when he was 56 years old of a heart attack and likely from a lifetime of living hard. It had been about ten years since I’d seen him when he passed and I found out about his death when my aunt posted it on Facebook.
When I was little, I loved him so much no matter what. I looked like him; I had the same extroverted personality as him; I was a ‘Guerrero,” just like him. He was smart, charismatic, handsome, the life of the party. I was his “Shorty,” a nickname he called me well into adulthood and even when our relationship was strained. I was a proud daddy’s girl. He promised big things and I believed him every time. And every time, he let me down. Every. Single. Time.
By the time I was a teenager, I loathed him, begged my mom to leave him. I wanted nothing to do with him and couldn’t fathom the need for a dad in my life in the first place. He was a disappointment, an embarrassment, and I had no use for him…or so I thought.
Time and forgiveness has given me new prospective on my Dad. What I now believe to be true is that I needed him for a far greater purpose than I could have ever imagined. What I now believe is that his tumultuous life was divinely intended for my benefit all along. His pain, his demons, and his choices would be the reason I would work so hard to get out, learn to expect and accept nothing less than, and rise above the heartbreak and struggle to live a different life than his and to love differently than he ever could have. For that, I am grateful to him.