While growing up I learned to fore warn people who were to meet my father for the first time. “My Dad is a really nice guy, but…he can be a bit straightforward, please don’t be offended by anything he says.”
In turn, I would tell my Dad, “Please don’t be rude.”
You see Grandpa was known for saying things like, “You’re queer,”
“You’re getting fat, are you stressed?”
“What’s wrong with your face?”
The comment I will never forget was the day I graduated from college. My Dad asked me what I got my degree in, and I told him a BA in Elementary Education with a minor in History and Bilingual Ed. His famous response was, “Mija, if you like to work with kids, why didn’t you study to become a pediatrician?”
“Teachers don’t make any money.”
That was his way of saying congratulations. So I just smiled and jokingly said,
“You could have told me that 7 years ago.”
I learned early on to never let Grandpa also known as, Jose, Rudy, Joe, and Rolando get to me. I knew to check him, laugh or walk away. Now that I am older I realize his valiant character he has displayed throughout my life far out-weigh his ability to find just the right words.
You see, on the day we arrived home from the hospital, Grandpa had gone to Meijer’s to buy a crib, car seat, baby clothes, bottles, formula, and Dreft. Grandpa was 50 when you were born, and had long enough to know my life altering situation was a blessing-a miracle of life. When he found out Grandma had decided adoption was the best solution for a girl of my age he said, “Si lloraron cuando dimos el perro, como crean que van ha poder regalar un bebe.”
Later, I found out he had gone to see a lawyer to see if he could be the one to adopt you. During those early years Grandpa served as my father, role model and teacher. He would wake up in the middle of the night to change your diaper or give you a bottle. You were the boy he never had, and he was your Papa.