My dad | Gilbert Family Photographer

Friday, September 6, 2013

Yes, yes...I did have a session with just my dad and his horse.  But really to celebrate what a hard worker he is.
I'm going to do my best at not rambling, but...that's not always a realistic goal for me.  
In short, my dad is definitely the hardest working and most driven man I have ever know.  However, growing up with him wasn't always the easiest.  My dad was a Marine Corps sargeant that fought in  Vietnam. For obvious reasons,  having a Marine for a father isn't easy at all. One small example  is instead of spending our Saturday mornings watching cartoons and chowing down on sugar cereal...we were often woken up to Revily, then up to eat Cheerios and our Saturday mornings were doing chores.  Now, he didn't always do the white glove test before we could play but we definitely had to have the house clean from top to bottom.  And to this day, I thank him for my over the top clean house expectations...and cringe in thinking that's the reason for my Type A and obsessive ways. {written with total sarcasm}

When thinking back to who my dad is, I think about his entire life.  His life wasn't easy and extremely hard at a time when society wasn't accepting of Mexicans.

My dad grew up in the towns of  Florence and Coolidge.  He was raised by his grandparents that only spoke spanish.  Which means, he didn't speak any english...not one word.   There was no tolerance for children that didn't speak english back then and he remembers being slapped with a ruler when he would try to speak in class and told he couldn't speak until he could talk in english.  When he went home to his grandmother, he told her he had to learn english, and she agreed.  But, the only problem was that his grandparents didn't know how to speak english and it was up to him to learn.  It was first grade when he began to learn and speak english in class.
What pains him now is knowing that all four of his children do not know how to speak spanish.  A few of us can understand it really good from growing up with our grandma, but sound like complete idiots when we try to talk.  What makes that painful for my dad is knowing the reason he never spoke it to us is because of his childhood as a mexican-american and didn't want his own children to go through the same hardships.  Had he known that one day it would be an asset to speak spanish...he would've taught us but not something he imagined to be possible.

My father has worked daily and hard since he was 8 years old.  His first jobs ranged from shining shoes to picking cotton and potatoes in the fields that surrounded the towns.  In doing the math, that means he's been working for over 65 years.  That is an insane amount of time.

After graduating from high school, he worked as a butcher but knew he wanted a college education.  At 21, my dad enlisted into the Marine Corps and went to fight in Vietnam.  Without going into details about the countless memories he's shared with us about his time in the Marines, each day was simply life changing.

After the Vietnam, dad returned to go to college and received his bachelors and masters degrees as a result of his hard work to improve his life.  

He finally retired two years ago. Which, is a day we never thought would actually happen.  We always laughed and said the day our dad would retire was the day he'd have to call Dial A Ride to get to work.  We just never thought the day would come.  But it did.

Growing up, I always laughed in saying that my dad was all about a mexican movement. Growing up he always told us that as mexican-americans it was our job to prove that we deserved to be here and nothing will be handed to us. That's not really funny, but funny because there was no excuse that one of his children was not going to learn a trade or get an education.  He never pressed us to go to college, just that we had to learn a skill. Which wasn't easy since all four of us had to pay for our own education.  

Less than a year after I graduated from high school, I had dropped out my second semester of college and determined to marry my high school boyfriend and live a happily ever after life.  AND...yep, that never worked out thankfully.   

But, after asking me about my college grades during dinner, I broke the news to my parents that I dropped out.  AND....that's when his fists went up and slammed down on the table.  With him telling me that that wasn't acceptable. I returned to college the next semester and received my bachelor's and master's degrees

As a mexican-american that worked for his own success, he wanted all of us to have an education.  I guess I joked about that then because I couldn't grasp the struggles he had growing up in that era when his challenges came because of his race and everything he had was because he worked hard his entire life.  

He protected us from racism and always taught us to treat every person with the respect they deserve and not because of their race.  For a year, we lived in Herford, Texas and that was a very short time there.  The racism was intense.  He remembers his cousin telling him that it was a bad choice to raise his family there when they went to a restaurant and there were still segregated bathrooms.  Needless to say, racism played the big role in us leaving Texas.

And here is years later, finally enjoying a life when the only jobs he has to do are the ones that involve his horses and keeping up his home.  And for that, I am completely proud of him.  I can't think of a harder working man that constantly faced struggles and never gave up in giving himself a better life.

 At home, my dad spends the majority of his time working in his garage and side yard.  I took a few pictures of the details that are just a smidge of my dad's favorite place to be.
 Yes, that is a BudLight box that he's using as a box to store his stuff.
 There are tiny details in every crack...what you can't see is that tied to the strings that come on the bales of hay are scissors. They are in the most random place but I guess that's how he'll always know where they're at.
The random hen that is always sitting in her nest that she made in the vines above his shed.  And, it's not even his chicken but the neighbors that happen to make a home there and leaving my parents an egg every day.

That's my hard working dad in a nutshell!  I'm incredibly proud of him and these are the big reasons why.


Nancy Proffitt said...

What an amazing dad you have!!!! I LOVE the story and the pictures. You are blessed to have each other.

Kari Garcia said...

What a beautifully written memoir of your dad, and of course the pictures are beautiful as always. So special! Thanks for sharing!

Anonymous said...

I LOVE your dad and all that he stands for. He is adorable and you captured him perfectly in your pictures! Your sentiments are beautiful, truthful and ever so touching. After reading them your dad's heart will be bursting with joy!


Anonymous said...

Beautifully told♥