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El deber de un padre es de toda la vida/A father’s duty is for life

Posted By June 8, 2012 | 3:46 pm | Commentary
CNS COLUMNIST MOISES SANDOVAL

Columns-Buscando Vida/Seeking Life

El deber de un padre es de toda la vida/A father’s duty is for life
The following column appears first in Spanish, then in its English translation by the author.

By Moises Sandoval
Catholic News Service

Al pensar de la celebraciÛn del dÌa del padre, no puedo evitar pensar sobre las responsabilidades que jam·s terminan.

Poco antes de la ˙ltima Navidad, mi hijo Miguel, ya con 51 aÒos, llamÛ para preguntar si era posible vivir con nosotros por unos meses. Como Èl dijo, se le habÌan agotado las opciones. Su esposa lo habÌa dejado, habÌa sido desalojado de la habitaciÛn donde vivÌa, su auto se habÌa descompuesto y no se podÌa reparar, y no podÌa hacer el viaje de 75 millas para ir y volver de su empleo como cocinero. ìSi no me permiten vivir con ustedes, tendrÈ que vivir en la calleî, dijo.

Para mi esposa y para mi, ya en la sÈptima y octava dÈcadas de la vida, fue una decisiÛn difÌcil pero inevitable. ìVen,î le dijimos.

Tres meses despuÈs, Sara, la menor de nuestras nietas y la hija de Miguel, tambiÈn vino a vivir con nosotros. HabÌa sufrido violencia en el hogar donde vivÌa y decidiÛ que ya no querÌa vivir allÌ. TambiÈn querÌa conocer mejor a su padre, con quien habÌa tenido poco contacto porque vivÌa en otro estado muy lejos. Otra vez dijimos ìOK.î

Luego, recientemente un s·bado por la maÒana, la mayor de nuestras tres hijas llamÛ llorando. TenÌa que desocupar su departamento ese dÌa y, como trabajaba sÛlo a tiempo parcial, no tenÌa con que pagar la mudanza. Necesitaba $200 inmediatamente para no perder todas sus pertenencias. Le di el n˙mero de mi tarjeta de crÈdito.

Reflexionando sobre todo esto, pienso que tenemos que ser como nuestro Padre celestial, quien nunca pierde esperanza. Siempre est· listo para recibirnos en su casa, no importa cuanto hayamos fracasado o que desastres nos hayan aplastado.

Por supuesto, nunca sabemos si podemos cumplir con los desafÌos. Un hijo que se fue hace 20 aÒos y muy lejos, que nunca llamaba o visitaba, es diferente persona que la que conocÌamos. Una nieta de 19 aÒos y ya en la universidad no es como la niÒa a quien yo le enseÒe como pasearse en bicicleta y a quien yo llevaba a la biblioteca cada s·bado.

Inevitablemente, hay tensiones, y hay ocasiones cuando, en un momento privado, le digo a mi esposa: ìExtraÒo nuestra vida, cuando vivÌamos solos.î No obstante, estamos arregl·ndonos bastante bien.

Hay muchos beneficios. Miguel me llevo a muchas citas mÈdicas que tuve antes, durante y despuÈs de cirugÌa en los ojos. Nos ha enseÒado a cocinar mejor y a menudo nos delicia con comidas especiales. Un hombre de muchas habilidades, pintÛ nuestra casa e instalÛ nuevas luces donde se necesitaban. Recientemente, encontrÛ empleo en el restaurante de un club de golf.

Cuando Sara vino a vivir con nosotros, le pedÌ que me permitiera darle sugerencias sobre donde podrÌa conseguir empleo. SiguiÛ mi consejo y aplicÛ a una farmacia donde ahora trabaja tiempo completo, y est· ahorrando su dinero para volver a la universidad en el otoÒo.
En todo esto seguimos el modelo de nuestros padres y abuelos. El pap· de mi Mam· criÛ a dos nietos huÈrfanos y cuando ya era anciano y viudo, viviÛ en resto de su vida la casa de mis padres, una familia de 10 hijos. Mi otro abuelo adoptÛ a dos huÈrfanos a pesar de que tenÌa 14 hijos propios.

Como nuestra casa, nuestro corazÛn est· lleno. Nuestro hijo y nieta est·n avanzando y pronto estar·n listos para vivir independientemente. Dormimos contentos porque podemos hacer algo por ellos.


As I think about the upcoming celebration of Father’s Day, I can’t help but dwell on responsibilities that never end.
Shortly before last Christmas, my 51-year-old son Michael called to ask if he could come live with us for a few months. As he put it, he had run out of options. His wife had left him, he had been evicted from the place where he lived, his car had broken down and had to be junked and he could no longer make the 75-mile daily round trip to the place where he worked as a cook. He would either live with us or on the street, he said.
For my wife and me, already in our seventh and eighth decades of life, it was a hard but inevitable choice. We said “yes.”
Several months later, Sara, the younger of our granddaughters and Michael’s daughter, came to live with us, too. She had experienced violence in the household where she lived and decided she could not live there anymore. She also wanted to get to know her father, who had lived in another state far away. Again, we said, “OK.”
Then more recently on a Saturday morning, the oldest of our three daughters called in tears. She had to vacate her apartment that day and, having only part-time work, had no money to pay the movers. She had to come up with $200 immediately or lose all her possessions. I gave her my credit card number.
Reflecting on all of this, I think that we have to be like our heavenly Father, who never gives up on us and is always ready to welcome us home, no matter how often we have failed or what disasters have overcome us.
Of course, we never know whether we will be able to live up to the challenges. A son who left home 20 years ago and seldom called or came home is a different person than the one we knew. A 19-year-old granddaughter already in college is far different from the little girl whom I taught how to ride a bike and took to the library every Saturday.
Inevitably, there are tensions, and there are times when, in a private moment, I tell my wife: “I miss the old life when we lived alone.” But we are coping just fine.
Furthermore, there are many pluses. Michael drove me to the many medical appointments I had before, during and after surgery in both eyes. He has taught us how to cook better and often delights us with special meals. A man of many skills, he has also painted our house and installed new lighting where needed. Recently, he was able to get a job in the food service of a golf club.
When Sara came to live with us, I asked her if I could give her advice on where to find a job. She accepted my first suggestion and applied to a pharmacy where she now works full time, saving her money to return to college in the fall.
In doing what we do, we have to credit the culture of our fathers and grandfathers. My mother’s father raised two orphaned grandsons, and when he was old and widowed, he lived the rest of his life in our household, a family of 10 children. My other grandfather adopted two orphans, although he had 14 children of his own.
As our house is full, our hearts are full. Our son and granddaughter are moving forward and will soon be ready to be on their own. We sleep content that we can do something for them.