When we were kids, our dad said to us often in one form or another to always stay in touch. He said that no matter where our journeys took us, we should pick up the phone to check on each other. We should let each other know we are there for them. We should be sure we each know that we will love and support the other. His views in this regard were no accident.
Dad was the middle of three boys and while no sibling relationship is free of conflict, I think he really got this gift and made sure he handed it down to us. The greatest gift there is. It cannot be bought or artificially created.
Decades later, over a thousand miles from the house we fought it, played Nerf football in, wrestled in and damaged in ways only three large boys can, the gift continues. It is no accident that we all live basically walking distance from each other and until dad passed, he was within that grid. When you think about it, for over thirty years, that has been the case more or less.
We are truly privileged to have that gift. I know many siblings who don’t speak to their brother or sister. I know those who have no relationships with one parent or both. People live difficult lives and I don’t judge any path; I am just happy that ours has been one of love and support. It is a privilege not all enjoy.
A story I have never related to either of you(believe it or not) is about one of the first speaking presentations I gave. I thought I had bombed. I saw glassy eyes and drool. I returned home, depressed and wondered if public speaking was for me. I could not connect. I told the story about that gift, no one seemed to care.
I opened my twitter. There was a tweet to me from a young girl. It read:
“You don’t know me, but my dad was at your talk today. We are having dinner together for the first time in a year. Thank you”
A person had accepted the gift that I try to pass on with every talk.
Of course, it has gone well beyond that. I would be dead if you both had not come into my house that summer day in July 2005. I had a weapon on my nightstand. The drugs were everywhere. I felt like I was doing everyone a favor by ending my life. I was an embarrassment. I would erase the blotch on the Cuban name. I would end my pain. That gift again. You wouldn’t let that happen. I am here. I am loved.
I remember telling dad for the first time about my struggle after I looked into the abyss again Easter weekend 2007. His response was that I should move in with him and he would help me get through it. The love. The gift.
I watch how you treat your children and I have no doubt you are living the words of our father. Living the love and the gift.
Thank you both for that love and support without which, I would not be able to pass on what our dad gave us. I would not be able to do a little bit in part of the world to change the world with acts of kindness, also known as Tikkun Olam.
I love you both with all my heart. I know dad’s words are always alive in us. His bill to us was in part to pay that gift forward, It has been paid and will continue to be.