It has been 19 years since the day I met you, obviously you remember it much more than I do. It was the summer of 1999 as you and ama sat in the hospital room praying that I was born a happy and healthy baby (you guys didn't tell me that part, I assumed, but I assume I assumed correctly ← English is tricky). Men usually want their first child to be a boy and when it isn't, they throw fits or blame it on the women (the internet is a wild place, dad). But I remember when I asked you what you wanted and you just said a baby.
You know, dad, no one believes in fairytale love stories anymore. Everyone around me is slowly giving up on finding their soulmate but I simply can't give up on that because of you. Because no matter how far away you were for work, you would still call ama every night and tell her you love her and compliment her even if you couldn't see her. Then, when you would come home you would turn into a warm marshmallow for her. So I never gave up on that kind of love, I didn't care how long it took as long as I would make someone a warm marshmallow, I think I found him (it was worth the wait).
I also remember the phone calls to both of us every night. Every night after dinner and before bedtime I would hear the phone ring and ama call "Angelito" so I would hurry up, clean my plate, get into my PJ's and brush my teeth, meanwhile you talked to mom. Then I would run to yours and mom bedroom door, swing the door open and jump on the bed (Yes, I know, you know I needed a stool) and she would put you on a loudspeaker.
You would always start off by saying "Hola Bonita/Pollo" and then proceed to ask me about my day. Then you would ask me how my grades were looking (which is probably why I always wanted to have A's and B's, I couldn't disappoint you, especially with all you were doing for mom and me) and they were always great. Then you would smile (I could always tell over the phone) and tell us it was time to pray and go to sleep.
It was definitely a part of our everyday routine that I couldn't go to sleep without it (I know you knew because I could hear the machine sometimes and you would rush our calls to prayer and sleep, it's okay though, I always knew you were at work). Regardless, thank you for calling and making time for your family, we love you too.
Then there was your brothers and sisters. The people you sacrificed your life for. No matter how bad it got for you, if they were okay and happy, so were you. As an only child, I used to wonder if I would ever feel that way about anyone. Then I grew up and got closer to the kids they had (my cousins) and as I grew, so did the family. Now those dozens of cousins I have are like brothers and sisters to me and I don't have to wonder anymore because I would do the same thing you did in a heartbeat.
Then there were your parents (I wish I could have met them). I have heard a plethora of stories about them and in every single one, you smile. I know you miss them, they miss you too. But every time you speak of them out loud, you keep them alive through me. I promise to continue to tell stories of them to my cousins or anyone else willing to listen.
Thank you, Dad. You taught me that no matter how busy life gets, it is crucial to ALWAYS make time for family.