Today marks the 6 year anniversary of my daddy passing away. He was 68 years young. Last year was the first year that I didn’t wake up sobbing. This is the first year that I’m waking up celebrating. It’s not that I’m praising the day I lost my biggest hero, not at all. This will forever go down in history as one of the most painful days of my life. What I am celebrating is the fact that I still have the opportunity to honor his memory by leaving an imprint on humanity like he did.

Pedro Antonio Torres, Sr. never made a name for himself on a grand scale, but his funeral was filled to the brim and overflowing with people who came to pay respects to the man that had touched their lives. He was a voice to those who couldn’t speak up for themselves in the community. With the little he had, he made sure to always be a giver to those less fortunate. He was passionate about his family – the consummate Patriarch and father to the fatherless. My dad spoke loudly and boldly, yet he was quietly observant and full of wisdom.

He loved to laugh. He had the corniest sense of humor ever, but it broke boundaries between people and always lightened the mood. My dad loved his music – salsa and merengue. He loved to dance, and even had his little signature moves. He loved his country of Puerto Rico, although he wouldn’t go back but for a few times. He raised us with his culture; the food, the mannerisms, the sayings, the respect.

He had a strong work ethic and at no time let us forget that he left Puerto Rico in his teens for a better life; and worked day and night to send for his parents and 12 siblings. He was a singer – the most beautiful natural talent I’ve ever heard. He didn’t need a microphone, the sound resonated from deep within his spirit. He was even the lead singer in a band for many years and almost got signed to a record label, but his father forbid it. He continued to sing for years thereafter but did not receive that opportunity again. He became a factory foreman until physical disabilities caused him to have to stop working. He never really found full satisfaction after that, as he drew his identity from his work and ability to provide.

My dad was passionate. So very passionate. He didn’t have a lukewarm bone in his body. He either disliked something with every fiber of his being, or loved it with all his heart. He was opinionated and would let you know what he thought no matter who you were. He was never intimidated by anyone. He was going to protect those he loved at all costs. My dad was not going to stand on the sidelines of our lives; he was deeply involved in everything we did and always made us know that he cared. There was nothing he enjoyed more than spending time with his family.

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My daddy and big brother singing at my wedding.

In Loving Memory of Pedro Antonio Torres, Sr. Slideshow

So what I get to do now is carry on his legacy. I get to express the myriad of gifts in me – so many directly from him – and share of myself the way he did. I get to pass down his stories to my children, raising them with the same respect and honor that he raised me. I get to tell them they are leaders, not followers, that they have to think of the consequences of their actions before they make decisions, that their choice of friends will tell the most about who they are. I get to honor my big brother (pictured above) whose birthday happens to be today. I get to honor my dad by honoring God.

If you’ve lost someone in your life who meant as much to you as my daddy meant to me, there is no better way to continue living this precious life than to go after everything in your heart. Go after your dreams, go after your vision, express every last bit of the uniqueness that you are. Don’t waste one more day being mediocre or average. Do the things they wanted to do but never got a chance to (if it’s also in your heart to do them), go places they would’ve loved to see, experience life on a whole other level.  If you do that, nothing is lost. It’s multiplied.

I love you, daddy. I hope I’m making you proud. Thank you for everything you poured into me, and I promise it will not end with me. Your life continues for generations to come <3

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