Everything Dad said I couldn’t do, I did. I was determined to prove him wrong, to be my own kid.
Athletics — “girls don’t do that,” said Dad. Other “no ways.” Boys. Bikes. Electronics. Pants. I did them anyway. All the things that “girls didn’t (or shouldn’t) do,” I would jubilantly embrace.
Pamela’s dad, Aquiles, as a young man
My family is Chilean; we came here when I was 3, fleeing Pinochet as political refugees. America didn’t soften Dad. He was — and is — the stereotypical Latino man (and dad). Overprotective. Authoritarian. Rigid. Sexist. And racist, too.
Dad was obsessed with sheltering his “little girl” from the ways of a land strange to him, but so comfortable, a perfect home to her. He was doing his best (I know now) but he was also driving me crazy.
(You can probably tell, I resented my father growing up. Today I am exactly what he was not — an artist, a progressive, an activist — he embodied everything I would come to abhor.)
My parents would later return to Chile (the States weren’t for them). My sister and I, as adults, stayed on. READ MORE
Mom died in 2011. Her loss devastated Dad and me. We discovered that we had a choice…
“Get busy living or get busy dying.”
Let me explain… Dad and Mom met in high school. Within a few days, they were inseparable. They were best friends first. That was a time when it was unusual for boys and girls to have that kind of relationship.
Dad, Mom, and Jason years ago.
Dad was a tough guy, a boxer. Mom was also an athlete, a track star. They did everything together. She helped him train. He ran with her in the mornings. They spoke late into the night on the phone. Within a year, they had fallen in love.
After high school, they were engaged. Married. I was born. Our family from that point on as close as a family could be. Jokes and teasing were the norm; so were morning and bedtime hugs. Mom and Dad — two crazy lovebirds, an inseparable team.
So when mom died suddenly in 2011 — a heart attack with no warning — I was devastated. But for Dad the pain was unbearable. He plunged into an abyss. He lived in void. Mom was his life. He was lost. READ MORE
My Dad wasn’t into comic books when I was young. But he knew my brother and I were crazy about them.
Jim’s dad, Joe Zubkavich
It felt like every waking moment was a cavalcade of reading, collecting and nonstop chatter about our favorite characters. He’d bring us along when he went downtown once or twice a month. My brother and I would immediately go to the comic book shop.
I don’t actually ever recall Dad going into the store with us. He’d run his errands and then wait for us outside. He didn’t “get” the comic book thing, didn’t have any interest, and I think staying away from the store kept us from asking him for extra money.
Dad never bought comics for my brother and me. We used the money we earned. And, Dad had zero knowledge of the ins and outs of four-color fandom beyond the occasional episode of Batman or the Incredible Hulk on TV. READ MORE
1971. I was a college grad with a dream. Clarence Darrow. Silver tongue. Courtroom master. So off to law school I went in Washington D.C. An attorney. That would be me.
First day. First class. The professor’s first words? “Look at the person to your left, and then to your right… one of you won’t make it past the first year.”
Bob and Greg then.
I looked to my right — there sat Bob looking at me. No doubt we were both thinking the same. At the end of semester, who would remain?
A liberal, bold, outspoken kid from New York. A far cry from conservative, Catholic, Republican me. I soon learned most of my classmates were from the east coast. To them, I was a bit strange. I felt the same about them.
The first week, a law student mixer was planned. Bob was there. So was I. Someone suggested forming two informal law student softball teams. A way to blow off steam when we weren’t studying to avoid flunking out. READ MORE
My sophomore year in high school. I forget what theater. I forget what movie. But I will never forget what Dad did that day.
Katie and her dad, showing off creations from the Indian Princesses summer camp they attended in Dallas
A group of people were standing in queue, waiting to buy tickets. I instinctively looked for the back of the line and proceeded that way. But Dad? He walked right around them!
I paused for a second, figuring he would see, come back, and join me in line. But Dad gave me a wave and marched on. I reluctantly followed. I could feel the scowls. The accusatory stares. Line standers glaring at us with condemning eyes as we passed. So embarrassing.READ MORE
Until I was 14 or so, my life at school was hell.
Every day, a new humiliation.
My name is Jason Dwurple — yep, you heard right. As if being the only Catholics in a small town wasn’t bad enough, I grew up with the strangest name on the planet (Dwurple became “Dorkel,” “Twirple” — you get the idea).
Jason and his father Bob on a hike in Northern California.
For these reasons and more, I was a natural target. I was bullied unmercifully day after day.
Today there is public awareness of how bad bullying can be. Not when I was young. It was largely ignored — “just part of growing up.”
I didn’t tell my parents — I was embarrassed. I didn’t want Mom to worry. And Dad — well, we were never that close.
I was sensitive, pensive and awkward, the polar opposite of Dad. In fact, I spent most of my childhood thinking I was a disappointment to him. Unlike me, my father was a tough guy, a character. People laughed at his jokes. They listened when he spoke. READ MORE