When my dad Oscar was less than 4-years-old, his father suddenly and tragically passed away at the age of 41. The 6th out of 8 children, my dad grew up not knowing his dad or having a strong father figure in his life. With the family’s main breadwinner gone, his mother did her best to raise all 8 kids by herself.
As my dad grew up, he had a very different life’s goal than most other boys. He didn’t want to be an athlete (a bum leg made sure of that), a firefighter, or movie star. He grew up wanting to be a great dad. And that’s just what he did.
When he moved his family to Los Angeles, my dad didn’t have any friends. So he redoubled his efforts, committing all of his free time to his 4 boys (my 3 older brothers and me).
Here’s what he says in his own words:
Early on, I felt I needed to be a hands-on father. Growing up I felt the loneliness without my father to guide me or be there for anything. I wanted to be sure I was always around for my kids. I tried as much as possible to attend basketball games, track and field meets, parent-teacher meetings etc. I felt proud to be seen with my children, and I am sure your brothers were proud of me too. Steve, you probably noticed I do not have friends I socialize with. It was my choice to spend all my free time with the family.
My dads’ tragedy, losing his dad, led to my great fortune, having an awesome dad who was present and engaged. As a kid, I remember him taking me on the train to San Diego to go to SeaWorld and when I was older to Comic-Con. He took me to watch movies like He-Man, Spaceballs, and Naked Gun. He came to my basketball games, even when I sat on the bench most of the time. He did this all while taking me to school and practices, helping out with laundry, doing the dishes, and more.
Dad, thanks for always being there for me. You’ve been a great role model who inspires me to be a great dad to my kids. And because of what you did for me, I want to take your example and push it even further, helping other dads be their best selves for their kids.