This is my Big Papi
My mom always teased that I was the best birthday present my dad ever got, arriving two weeks early and born exactly a week after his day. I adored him and thought he hung the moon for most of my early childhood. He was a big cuddly bear who brought me a new coloring book when I was sick and my mom flowers every Friday night. He loved bringing my brother and I treats like when he snuck out to the local bakery early Sunday morning practically buying out the place. He traveled to Asia for months at a time for work and I remember the excitement when he would call and tell us amazing stories of all the exotic places he had been to during that week. There was a joke within the family that Pop actually worked for the CIA rather than helping to manufacture the very famous Members Only jackets we wore in the 80s. He nurtured my love for sports and music, told me I was smart AND beautiful, reminded me to hang at the medical school library to find dates, and taught me how to tell engaging and funny stories.
As I got older managing my relationship with my dad became more and more difficult and I questioned the amount of time he was away from our family, why he seemed to put others before us and missed important events and days. A few months before my college graduation my brother and I learned our parents were divorcing and in that process also uncovered that my dad had been unfaithful and had an affair for the better part of my parents' marriage. I desperately wanted my father to fit an image I needed him to be and struggled for years with anger and disappointment.
It took years and I'm not ashamed to say, many hours of therapy for me to work through these feelings but now on the other end, I am at peace with my father and understand him in a way I never thought I would Beyond that I am eternally grateful that he showed such patience and love through a time I know hurt him deeply. This alone shows me how much he loved me and it's hard to think that this isn't unconditional love at its purest. At his funeral two friends each reminded me that it was time to forgive myself as much as I had forgiven him.
He was a remarkable grandfather to my niece and it hurts to know that my child won't have that. Even so, my Papi was so excited when I shared first my decision to undergo fertility treatments and then move forward with adoption. I could see the glimmer in his eyes thinking about another baby to bounce on his knee even during our last visit when the toxins in his body made him weak. I miss him and think about him every day. I can't bring him back but can make sure his memory and love lives on.