Happy Birthday, Papi!

In honor of my dad's birthday this week, I am reposting a tribute I wrote to him last year. Feliz cumpleanos, Papi! Te queremos mucho!


When I was a kid, all my friends were terrified of my father. With his serious countenance, gruff voice, and thick Brazilian accent,  he inspired fear in the hearts of all the neighborhood children. Kids would ring my doorbell and ask if my father was inside. When I said yes, they would pause for a minute, then say "Let's go play in my house."

I could never understand what they were so afraid of. Sure, my father's accent means he's almost always unintelligible to those who are not around him on an everyday basis (and even we sometimes have no idea what he's saying), and he can be a little rough around the edges, but he is also one of the most doting, kindest, generous people you will ever meet.

If you look up the definition of "self-made man," my father's picture should appear right next to it. Growing up on the small Brazilian town of Manaus, by the Amazon river, he had a fairly rough childhood. Despite his family's trials, he managed to put himself through medical school, working  jobs such as driving a taxi, working as a clerk at the local parish, and being a schoolteacher to support himself and his family.

At the age of twenty-two, shortly before his graduation from medical school, he traveled to Puerto Rico to meet his pen pal of six years. He married her two years later and returned with his new wife to Brazil so he could finish his residency.  They moved back to Puerto Rico when my mother was nine months pregnant. Two weeks after they arrived, my brother was born. I made my appearance four and a half years later.

Papi worked incredibly hard to provide for his family. Throughout most of my childhood, he worked two jobs. First, he would work a regular nine-to-five day at an eye center, then come home, nap, spend a bit of time with us, and head out to do the midnight shift in the emergency room. It is a testament to what am amazing father he was that, despite the exhaustion he must have felt, he always found time to play with my brother and myself. Not only that, but I cannot recall one single important moment of my childhood where my dad wasn't present. Somehow, when it counted most, he was always there. I don't know how he did it, but I will always be thankful that he did.

I have mentioned before in this blog how my mother and I are complete opposites. Well, that is because I have my father's personality. Like him, I am quiet and reserved. Like him, I have a small circle of friends and most always prefer staying home than going to a party. Like him, I love history, movies and curling up with a good book. We are both fiercely loyal to our families and will do anything to take care of them. We have our differences, of course, but we have always found a way to respect and accept each other's positions, and he always supports me in whatever path I choose to take.  

One of the biggest difference of opinions I ever had with Papi was the way I chose to create my family. As a doctor, my father is a firm believer in medicine and is of the opinion that I should have pursued (and still should consider) further fertility treatments before deciding to adopt. From the moment Papi saw Dylan on Skype while we were still in Kazakhstan, however, he went GAGA for his grandson. I think I even saw him wipe a tear from his eye that day! It was the same when I sent him Liam's hospital pictures. He absolutely adores Dylan and Liam and I love watching them together. Dylan loves spending time with his Abuelito, and is constantly telling me he wants to go back to Puerto Rico to Abuelito and Abuelita's house. I hope Dylan and Liam get to see a lot of my father throughout their childhood, because he is truly an amazing role model and a man to admire.

Happy Birthday, Papi! Te queremos mucho!



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  • Ay Khadine, I was one of those friends - Before I got to know him well!! I absolutely loved this entry, as usual, te la comiste. Un abrazo!

  • In reply to Nina Goyco:

    LOL Nina, I know you were! But now you know he's harmless, and that's all that matters. Glad you liked the entry, and hope Enrico had a nice Father's Day!

  • Khadine, tus Papas parecian un duo super cool de los setenta. Que guapos! Me encanto este post. Nos sacamos la loto con estos padres. Y felicidades a Bill.

  • In reply to Ana Belaval:

    Ana, no sabes cuanto les va a encantar tu comentario a mis papas! Ellos siempre estan "stylin'" Espero que Steve tambien haya pasado un muy buen dia de los padres!

  • Great entry & pictures, Khadine! Feel like I know more about your dad....all makes sense....we've really enjoyed getting to know him & spending time with him over the years...a very special man! Happy Father's Day, Valmir! (& Bill!) Much love, K,M, J.C., & J.P.

  • In reply to kathikubal:

    Glad you liked it, Kathi! Happy Father's Day to Mike as well!

  • In reply to kathikubal:

    What a beautiful entry. And what a striking family! :) You look quite a bit like your mom, or at least I see that. :) Wonderful story. Since your Papi is Brazilian, do you also speak Portuguese? How cool! Just a lovely entry. And so nice to see the happy faces of your dad, Dylan and your mom. Just great!

  • In reply to anitarudite:

    Thanks, Anita, glad you liked it! A lot of people do tell me I look like my mom, then again others tell me I look like my dad, lol! I do speak Portuguese, but I'm not completely fluent. As always, thanks for commenting!

  • Mi emocionó lo que escribiste. Yo tambié doy gracias a Dios por la familia que tengo (tu, Jadit y tu madre). Dios te bendiga.

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