Growing up, Father’s Day was always a day to celebrate our hero of the family.
And in our family, that hero is my grandfather.
As I’ve gotten older, it has become more important to me to celebrate my grandpa on Father’s Day, and every day.
My parents divorced when I was young, just 3-years-0ld. My dad didn’t stay close. In fact, he moved away overseas. No matter when it happens, leaving a mom to be single with two children is always a scary situation. It leads to new uncertainties, and the need to learn to balance life and find a new support system.
Thankfully for all of us, when my dad stepped out, Grandpa stepped up.
My mother moved in to Grandpa’s house, with my sister and I in tow, and we settled into a new life. Grandpa opened his doors, greeting us with open arms. To a child, never having to leave her grandparents’ house was almost a dream come true. We imagined new toys, cookies every day and stories on Grandpa’s lap.
However, it wasn’t all cupcakes and late nights. Us moving in pushed this man take charge. He stepped back into a father role and continued to persist to provide us an even better life than our mother had when she was growing up. It was long nights at the office. It was taking business trips around the world to secure financial stability for not only his wife and his daughter, but for us, his grandchildren, too.
I am a firm believer that the way a father treats the mother of his child sets a precedent for how the child will treat others in the future. Fortunately, Grandpa become our role model.
Grandpa gave us love and taught us lessons.
My father was no longer an active part of our lives. Instead, Grandpa was the one who we all looked up to. He set the rules in our house. Through his example, we were taught how to lead. In his free time, he took us out to the movies, mini golfing, and even participated in non-fun things, like helping us with our homework. That was huge for him, considering English was his second language.
Often, a father is the one who lays the foundation for encouraging tenacity and grit to pursue our dreams. I thank my Grandpa for not falling short of that. As a child, I saw him working all the time until he was blessed enough to retire early. Since most girls are naturally daddy’s girls, my sister and I hated that he worked so much. As I got older I realized he actually enjoyed working and he was working to provide for us. And, as I learned his story, I began to realize how persistent he was.
My Grandpa’s story set the foundation for future generations.
See, Grandpa moved from Ecuador to NYC on his own in his early 20s to pursue a better life for his family. Not knowing any English, and still going through college, he got a job on the bottom floor of one of the largest companies in the world. He spent his mornings working and his evenings at night school. Eventually, he moved his wife and daughter to live in the U.S. with him.
What still blows me away is that he completed not only his bachelor’s degree, but his master’s degree as well — in his second language. All while simultaneously climbing up the corporate ladder. He started in the mail room…and retired as the vice president of his company.
To this day I believe his ambition set the foundation for how hard I work, and for being a goal setter and a big dreamer. I always strive to improve not only wherever I am employed at, but especially as I stepped into motherhood.
So Dear Grandpa, Thank You.
I’m so grateful that you stepped into a father role, no questions asked, for my sister and I; you shaped who we are today. It means the world to me that you continue to be an amazing role model for your great-grandchildren. That you continue to care for everyone around you and make an effort to be with us. You are the greatest father that we could ever ask for.
Happy Father’s Day, Grandpa.