When I was ten years old, a simple stop of the car changed my whole perspective on who my dad is. I remember sitting in the backseat of my mom’s teal suburban filled with excitement because today was Sunday, and Sundays meant ice cream at Baskin-Robbins. We were on our way when my dad did something I will never forget. A homeless man was selling wilted roses on the side of the road, holding up a sign that read “Hungry, Please Help.” I scowled as my dad pulled to the side of the road, got out, and gave this homeless man twenty dollars. Turning to my mom, I rolled my eyes, “Doesn’t Dad know that he is probably going to go buy booze or cigarettes? Dad is so stupid!” My mom’s head immediately snapped around, “Did you know that man used to be your dad?” Looking back now, I realize this is when I adopted the belief that our background and circumstances influence who we are, but we are responsible for who we become.
Born in the heart of Chicago, my dad’s birth was a bittersweet welcome, considering that his father died in a car crash the same day. With a single mother who turned to alcohol for comfort, my dad had to learn to become independent at a very young age. With an severely depressed mother who spent more time drunk than sober, my dad had to work for the rent money while trying to attend school at the same time. In the meantime, he had to keep a close watch on his mom who often found refuge in the local bars and had to be picked up by my dad. These experiences taught my father about the importance of family and hard work. He wanted to make life better for himself and his mother and was determined to succeed in life. He knew he wanted more from life.
Conversely, I was born to a life of privilege. My father’s success has enabled him to make a comfortable life for his family. My childhood, while completely different from his, has forced me, ironically enough, to overcome my own circumstances of privilege! In my situation, I have had to work hard to be taken seriously and prove that I am more than meets the eye. I may be a blonde cheerleader from Coto de Caza, but my Dad has taught me that you cannot sit back and have a free ride. Independence and hard work are necessary for personal success and pride. While living a great life in a wealthy area is nice, helping those less privileged is something that defines me. By creating the service club, Helping Voiceless Children, I have been able to help children who face the same type of situation my Dad did. I feel great pride in that. And my dad will and forever remain, my inspiration. Happy Father’s Day Dad!