When I was a kid I used to pray the same thing every night. “God, please let my father live as long as I live. I don’t want to live in a world without him.” For a little background a context, my dad was 55-years old when I was born, so I grew up having an “older” dad. Kids would ask me if he was my grandfather, to which I would angrily reply, “No, he’s my dad!”
The worry I had about losing my dad as a kid, or even a teenager was a bit unwarranted. My dad was extremely healthy. He would take me to the park every day, and play catch with me, or throw batting practice. I also didn’t realize at the time that 55, 60, 65, even 70 isn’t that old, but still, a lot of my friends had younger dads, so a little prayer to God for longevity for my father was okay.
My dad passed away on February 1st of this year at 91. He had been suffering from Alzheimer’s for over 12-years. (Side note: Alzheimer’s Disease sucks. For those that have experienced it with a loved one, you understand me. For those that haven’t experienced it, I hope you never have to.) I’m 36 going on 37 now. He lived way past my childhood, way past my teenage years, and into my adulthood. He was able to attend my wedding, and see the house my wife and I bought, although I’m not too sure how much of both events he grasped because of the disease. I had my dad for a good while. Not everyone is that lucky.
I told my wife about my childhood prayer, and she asked me if I still felt that way, now that he’s gone. Of course, I don’t. Although I’m hurt, and I miss him like crazy, I no longer have to see my dad suffer from Alzheimer’s. Also, I have a loving wife, and in July I will become a dad myself, so I definitely want to remain on earth a lot longer. I needed my dad as a kid, as a teenager, and the fear I had of losing him because he was older led to me asking God for his grace every night. God did answer my prayer.
I’ll be 37 when my son comes into this world on, or around July 21st. Even though I won’t be what’s considered an older dad, I wonder if my son Anderson will have a similar prayer. I loved my dad more than anyone will ever know. He was my father, my teacher, my mentor, my hero. I looked up to him. I love Dean Martin because of him, I love the Yankees because of him, I love boxing because of him, and I’d like to think I’m a pretty decent guy because of him.
I wonder what my son will think of me. Will he like what I like? Will I influence his decisions, inspire him to do big things in life, and become an amazing human being? Will he pray at night that his old man lives forever, or at least for a really, long time? Will he love me the way I loved my dad?
The only way I can guarantee he does is if I’m close to being as good a father as my dad was. He was such an amazing man. I will teach Anderson to read the way my dad taught me. I will show him where all the countries are on a map the way my dad showed me. I will sit down with him and listen to music, watch movies, watch sports. I will take him to the park, even if I’m tired from a long day at work. I will sacrifice to make sure he has a great upbringing.
When I pray to God now, I ask him to please give me the strength, and the guidance to be a great father. I think I had an extraordinary example of a great father, and I thank God for choosing him to be my dad.
All in all, I want to be just like Dad.
- By Armando Alvarez