Sunday, June 20, 2010

Happy Father's Day

I realized the other day that I had written about my granddad but not about my father. What better day to share with you another amazing man in my life than today, father's day.

My Dad was born on October 14th, 1937 in Hermosillo, Sonora. His name was Francisco Alejandro Hernández Torres. He was the oldest of 4 siblings. I don't know much about his childhood or adolescence, other than the fact that his father left my grandma for another woman. My Dad never talked to me about his father, he never spoke to him again and I don't think he had contact with his half-siblings.

Daddy was a very intelligent man. He studied journalism, the way they studied journalism then, by doing it. He started covering the police report for a local newspaper. One of the things he remembered the most about that time is covering a plane crash in Hermosillo. It was a small plane, probably 6 people or so. He loved to eat grilled meat but he couldn't stand grilling it himself because the smell reminded him of the burning flesh of the people that died in the crash. He persevered in the newspaper step by step. He had a political-comic column for a long time. It was in that column that he created an urban legend for my hometown.

There was a ballroom in Hermosillo that burned down for whatever reason. My Dad wrote in his column that people had seen the Devil at that place and it was he who burned it. Apparently a young maiden was at a dance without permission from her mom so, she met this very handsome guy and was dancing with him until she notice a strange smell. She then looked at his feet and saw that he had a chicken foot and a sheep foot. She started yelling, the guy took his clothes off and everyone saw that he was the Devil, who told the girl that he was there to take her and proceeded to burn the place and take the girl.
The structure of the burned building is still there and the legend keeps passing from mouth-to-mouth. I learned about it a lot before I knew it was my Dad who had started it as a joke.

Dad met my mom when she was working as a teller in a bank, she was only 14 years old. He met the family on my mom's quinceañera (15th birthday party) and since then he had permission from my grandpa to court her. They got married in 1964, my mom was 19, he was 27. My oldest brother, Hector David, was born the next year, followed by Mario Alejandro, Sergio Luis, Obdulia Edith, Gabriel Eduardo and after 5.5 years of the birth of Gabriel, me; Diana Raquel. All the names of my siblings were chosen by my Dad and all of them (except for my sister) were the names of friends of my Dad. For the longest time I thought I had been a mistake, because of the big gap between my brother and me. However, I learned from my mom that I was mistaken. My Dad would have been happy if they had had only girls. So, after having 3 boys, then 1 girl, then another boy, he wanted to keep trying for another girl and there I was.
My Dad filled my mom's room at the hospital with flowers and stuffed animals. He serenated her with mariachis the night I was born and published a note in the newspaper to thank the doctors and nurses that tended to her and me. He also got presents for all the other babies born that night (I was the only girl born that night, by the way :-P). Without a wisp of shame I can tell you that I was Daddy's pride and joy. I was also very spoiled, I knew even at a young age that I could get whatever I wanted if I asked Dad for it. He used to read to me and bought me a big collection of kids' books. He was so proud when I started reading before I was 5 years old. He thought me how to play cards and domino around that age. He loved board games but would never let us gamble (my grandma had a gambling problem and he hated it). Whenever I won in cards, domino or monopoly he would tell me: you have won a box of Carlos V chocolates...empty! (while softly poking my nose with his finger). He loved that I liked to watch TV in English, he learned the language by himself, reading books.

Dad, as any good journalist, loved to take pictures and would not go anywhere without his cammera. Except for that time when he took my brothers fishing and they saw UFOs at the beach, jajajaa. I have tons of pictures of me as a baby and a little girl, taken by my Dad. Unfortunately, not many of those are with him. By the time I was born, Dad was the vice-director of a state-wide newspaper and was nationally known. He had been politically persecuted for not shutting his mouth when censorship was bad in Mexico. He interviewed the Apollo 11 astronauts and was the 1st one to ask if they were going to study the effects of 0 gravity in the body, while in space. His note was published in the New York Times (I need to go to New York to find that note).

Dad loved hunting, snorkeling and fishing. He loved the beach and he had a funny encounter with a shark once. You know those cartoons when a guy is swimming, he sees a shark and swims to shore so fast that he's still kicking while he is already on the sand? That's exactly how I remember my Dad that day, ajajajaja. Dad would wake up and out of the blue yell: Yuya (my mom), pack the kids' things, we are going to the beach! He also did that when he wanted to come to Tucson, he wouldn't tell her ahead of time. We never came with them to the US though, they, ahem, escaped from us by coming here now and then. He also loved beer and cigarettes. I have a couple of scars on my left hand that are cigarette burns. Both of them I got them because I loved to jump on the bed on top of my Dad while he was smoking in bed, not having time to react when I jumped on top of him, he burned me. I can tell you that my Dad's addiction to nicotine rendered his 6 children with an absolute hate for cigarettes.

My sister was already a teenager when I was a little girl and she had started dating. My Dad would send me to the living room to tell the boy that is was time to leave. I didn't get to hear this from my Dad but he told it to my sister; baby, you have to kiss a lot of toads to find your prince. I didn't get to learn how to drink or drive from Dad. He passed away when I was 7 years old. However, since then, all my academic achievements I have obtained them with the thought that they would made my Dad proud. I know that he would be ecstatic if he knew me now. Cum laude Bachelor's, a Master's degree, on my way to PhD, completely fluent in English, living in the US (he wouldn't be happy about this though). Maybe I would be very different if he had lived, I'm sure I would be a spoiled brat :-P. I don't know, I want to think that I would be the same and that he would love me exactly like this.

Happy Father's Day Daddy! It's about time you send me that prince because I do keep kissing toads, you know!

5 comments:

  1. Diana-only seven when he died and yet you have such vivid memories. Your Dad must've been such a dynamic person, so full of life and love. I'm sure he'd be equally proud of his daughter's character as her academic achievements.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Great tribute to your Father. I am certain he is very proud of you!

    ReplyDelete
  3. What a lovely tribute to your dad this is. I lost my dad in 2002 and we were very close. yes, I too was a favorite but I was anything but spoiled. The folks I come from don't believe in indulging children. They believe in "toughening them up". However, my dad and I still had many happy time together and I can hear and feel the love you have for your dad between the lines above.

    TiTi

    P.S. This stupid comment system expects me to type "timethief" into the box in order to post a comment. I deleted that blog years ago. I have a blog at http://onecoolsitebloggingtips.com on my own domain but there's no option for me to use that allows me to post username and URL.

    ReplyDelete
  4. What a wonderful post again Diana!! He sounds like a interesting man, full of life and energy! Oooh let us know if you go to NY to find that note! That sounds soo cool! I do hope your Dad send your Prince soon ^_^!

    *big hugs*

    Ps.: My Tata is doing fine at the moment. I'm glad, because it was quite stressing for me. I'm staying postive!

    ReplyDelete
  5. Marty.- I do have very fond memories of him, even when I met him for a short time, he was a great man.

    Theresa.- That's what I like to think too ;-)

    TT.- Sorry about the comment system, thank you for visiting me and yes, I do love my Dad very much.

    TJ.- I'm glad to hear your Granddad is better ;-). The New York trip is a goal, maybe when I graduate and I will definitely share if I find that note.

    ReplyDelete