I had a very intense July 4th Weekend. My daughter had her 2nd Birthday, which we had at our house. We did our best to accomodate about 10 toddlers and their parents as they came to share the event. My mother came from Florida to join us as well. We had a great time and it was great to see my family together and happy.
That same weekend my father passed. He had been bed ridden for some time from a series of strokes, Parkinsons, and Alzheimers, and recently was no longer able to take in food. The hospital transferred him to a hospice where they kept him comfortable. I got the 4 AM call on the 4th and then waited for details from one of my half sisters as to next steps.
I wasn’t very close to my dad. He was the personification of a rolling stone, and was afraid that responsibility would one day catch up with him. He was a satellite figure in my life who would show up from time to time (graduations, weddings, etc.) and who never did me any harm in the literal sense. He had correctly assessed that he was not the fathering type, and while that put extra burdens on my mother, I’ve grown up to accept that decision vs. the alternative.
His illness and death brought together his other children, my half-siblings, all of us adults and with families of our own. During his life we were all isolated from each other and depended on him to bring us together, a task he failed at miserably. We now know that it is up to us to maintain a close relationship with each other, and to bring our children and spouses to know each other and stitch together these separate pieces of cloth into a patchwork of a family that previously existed in DNA only.
The death of one’s father is always traumatic. In my particular case it was surreal, as I share his name and have the greatest physical resemblance of any of my siblings. I had to endure seeing that name on hospital beds and funeral signs and hear it over and over during the prayer ceremonies. I had to look at a face that was in essence an older version of mine lying in bed and then in a coffin, and remind myself that this was indeed a separate person. I’m sure this experience will have a lasting impact on me, but I feel that psychologically I am in a good place. For some time, I’ve known and been proud of the fact that while our names and features are similar, I am nothing like my father, and thankfully so.
Life is for the living. I cannot go back and change the past, but I can make sure I am the best father I can be, and I can build a solid relationship with these former strangers who are my siblings. I will do these things not necessarily to honor my father, but ultimately for myself, and for the next generation of “Guadalupes.” In this ever complicated world, they need guidance and positive influence in their lives so that they know that responsibility is not something to run from, but to take on with pride and purpose. I hope I can provide some of that guidance.
I am thankful for the life I have and for the people in it. I could not imagine myself without my wife, my daughter, my family, or my friends. They are what motivate me to keep going. What is life without a child’s smile, a loved one’s touch, or a friend’s voice? To me, life is one big series of events, shared with people you care about. I wouldn’t miss any of it for the world.
Miguel Guadalupe grew up in New York City and currently resides in New Jersey. He is an Account Executive at FirstRain, a search-based research company for investment Professionals, and has worked in financial services for over 10 years. A graduate of Wesleyan University, he currently volunteers for various alumni and community organizations, and is the proud father of a talkative and tenacious toddler.
Miguel Guadalupe is a Director at Gartner Inc, a technology research company. Miguel (he’s the one in the middle) grew up in New York City and currently resides in New Jersey. A graduate of Wesleyan University, he currently volunteers for various alumni and community organizations, and is the proud father of a two beautiful girls.