How many of these sunrises did Dad see working 3rd shift?
"10-21-15" That’s the date that will be marked in my mind for quite some time. It’s the day the doctor told my dad he had 90 days left to live. How do you handle such a milestone? How would any of us handle that? What would you want to do, who would you want to see?
When I asked my dad how he wanted to handle it: fight or stand down (hospice) he replied- "I’m Ok, It’s Ok Louie-I'm tired". He was tired. It has been a long hard battle. One that he had fought for three years and he was tired.
I have a ton of respect for a man that outside of being my dad, worked 40 years in what many might consider horrible conditions. He did so not solely for himself, but for his family. He did it so his 2 sons and 2 daughters might have a life better than he had. More opportunities, more choices than he had growing up. You see my dad had the equivalent of a grade school education so that left him some options, but he wanted more for his kids.
What many might call duty- I call selfless dedication – I call it Love. A love that meant we never ‘wanted’. We always got what we needed: A roof over our heads, clothes, food and an education. What else could someone want? We also received one of his most prized possessions- his values. The values of a man who wasn’t afraid to work, saw pride in a hard day’s work- believed in god; (his faith was strong to his last day)- believed in family (as the bedrock that kept all together) and he had a resolve combined with patience that I wish I could emulate a mere fraction of.
I learned a lot from my dad. My most cherished teaches are him teaching me the ability to try and fail. Dad taught me about failing alright, and in doing so he taught me that it is OK to risk, try and fail- because in doing so you learn to win and succeed.
Second on that list is that it is family first, then friends then everything else. It’s a value base that in his words – "if you made it so in your mind"- you would never be steered wrong.
“Family first”: that statement brings me comfort during these trying times as I struggle to clarify why dad choose 5 days before Christmas to leave us. I’ve often felt sorry for people as I learn of their loved ones dying around the holidays- what a difficult experience it must be- I thought. It truly is! For this we seek comfort among each other- probably like dad wanted it to be. He always enjoyed getting together as a family- at his house or my house or that of my brother and sister.
His last ‘family activity’ was Saturday night watching my 2 daughters help my mom and wife to put up my parents Christmas tree in their living room. I find comfort that he was at ease despite his physical challenges; see his family together (in part) but together.
Dad was a man of few words- His actions spoke louder than his words, so I’d like to think by that the fact that he left us on that day he knew we would be celebrating a new birth in a matter of days and we would come together for the real meaning of Christmas. We would come together as a family, so we would have each other to comfort and we would not be alone. For dad, that was the real meaning of Christmas- his parting gift and reminder of the meaning for the season.
His gift was that we would always remember and be present to what this season was about. Family is the real reason.
Thank you Dad for the great gift. It’s the best Christmas gift ever. While you may have left us, we have each other and your presence will forever be around us as long as we are together.
Thank you to everyone for your many thoughts, hugs and your mere presence. Thank you to the many that have accompanying us in these trying days and those that have sent their wishes, thoughts and prayers. Our family is very thankful for your presence.
~Lou Sandoval is a business owner with over 17 years Fortune 100 experience. In 2002, he left a successful career to pursue his dream of business ownership. Lou believes in giving back to his community and has also been involved in the Boy Scouts of America and serves on a few non-profit and professional boards. Opinions expressed here are solely personal and not a representation of any of the organizations with which he may be affiliated.