I never thought that what my father went through would be a lesson for his children, but yet it was. My father, at the age of 32, became wheelchair bound because of a tumor he had on his back. He had lost his job, he had no savings, and a family to take care of. At the time, I was 8 years old and my brother 4 years of age.
Fast forward and now I am in my thirties and I can only imagine all the worries my dad had back then as to how he was going to make it and be the male figure he was raised to be (male figure as in being the provider).
My dad didn’t have a choice but to move on because it was either he dwells in the frustration of what had happened to him or he finds the courage within him to keep on moving, not just for himself, but for his family as well. And that takes me to the lessons he taught me on how to face adversity:
Lesson #1: When the going get’s tough, you get tougher. It’s easy to remain dwelling in the anger and frustration when things don’t go the way you want them to go but, what good does that do? Although my dad was very angry for what happened to him, and boy did I see him angry, he knew he couldn’t remain there for too long. So, he decided to get tougher despite the situation was very tough on him. He became tougher than the tough situation he was in by deciding to see himself as being bigger than his circumstances.
Lesson #2: When there isn’t a way, you make a way. We hardly had any money and the money that my dad was receiving just wasn’t enough to make ends meet. So, my parents got creative and they started selling food to those they knew. My mom would bake cakes and make the food and my dad would let the people he knew know that they were selling food. What he taught me was to be resourceful in times of difficulty and when there isn’t a way, you make a way. Moments where it seems like there is no way for us require us to be creative in order to make a way.
Lesson #3: You gotta roll with the punches of life. My dad was hit with one thing in life after another- being wheelchair bound at such a young age, leukemia, diabetes, he had several ulcers (one which actually led to his downfall of his passing), etc.- and yet, he just kept going. He would change stance in life according to what came his way. It was seeing him go through so much that gives me the strength to know that no matter what life throws my way, I can realign myself so that I can protect myself from the punches of life. Same thing applies to you too. This realignment starts in our mind.
Lesson #4 : If you can see, if you can hear, if you can walk, if you have your family, if you have health….. you have everything. Seeing all he went through made me realize that it’s the big things that we need to pay attention, the very things that we tend to take for granted. And even if one of these things may be missing, there is still so much goodness to look forward to. Many times, when things don’t go our way, we just focus on what we lost rather than focus on what we still have and my dad’s experience made me want to focus more on all that I still have.
All these lessons that I just shared are lessons that apply to all of us no matter what circumstances we face because we need to be tougher than our circumstances, we need to be creative in times like the one that we are currently living. We need to be able to roll with the punches of life if we are to thrive and we need to remember that with the basics, we literally have everything in which we can build upon and create the life we want.
And for all that my dad has taught me, I will forever love him. Happy Father’s Day Papi.