My Dad, My Inspiration

Vero y su papa

My Dad, My Inspiration

Contributed by
Veronica Vasquez

If you ask me, who I admire the most in this world I’d tell you over and over again, Israel Vasquez. No, he is not a celebrity; his neighbors barely know his name. He is not a professional, he cleans the floors of a company. He is not a scholar, he stopped showing up to school by the second grade because his father thought education wasn’t necessary for success. Who is this man you may ask? This man is my father.

At his 62 years of age he’s still up and running around like if he were a teenager. He really doesn’t have a stop button, especially on the weekends. I look at him and only wish I could have that same energy he does. Not only is he full of energy but you should see this man’s faith and how much God has blessed him. He has been an inspiration not only to me but to others who get to know him and let me tell you why.

My father was born and raised in Cuetzala, Guerrero, Mexico. He is the fifth child out of 11. His family was kicked out of town because people believed his father was part of the mafia and he was “dangerous” to the people. My grandpa and his family left town and moved to a mountain where there was no electricity. My father became the man of the house at the age of eight, when his father was murdered. He had no choice but to work in the fields from sunrise to sunset to give his siblings the education they deserved.

My father was so illiterate that he was clueless when his birthday was or how old he was. It wasn’t until he was 16 that he asked his mother if he could fatten the sow for his birthday. My grandmother said to him “for what? Your birthday was three months ago, there is no point”. My father saw the need to better himself but lacked the money to do so. He attempted to cross the border not once, but twice in 1977. So yes, you are correct if you’re thinking he’s an immigrant.

His destination was Chicago and by the second day of his arrival and without him knowing the language, a simple word like “excuse me” got him a job. He was a dishwasher of a restaurant located in the city with a view of what used to be the John Hancock tower. Over the next 10 years, he had met my mother, had two children (my siblings) and had just bought his first house in Wheeling, IL.

Two years later in 1990, his biggest headache arrived; me, his youngest daughter Veronica. As a child, I remember my mother telling me she was going to get married to my dad. I used to hang from the kitchen’s doorknob and cry hysterically because I didn’t want her to marry the little short man who I called dad. Up to this day, he teases me about what I said but honestly, I’m glad my mother did not take up on my advice and married him.

It was not until my adolescent years that I finally understood why my father did not know how to read and write well. I understood his past and began to see the great effort he had been putting in throughout these years only to give us the best.

The little reading and writing that he knew was because he had picked up a book, The Bible. He’d write Bible verses over and over again, only to tell me that by the start of my school year all my notebooks had disappeared because he had used them up. I felt the obligation not only as his daughter but as someone who got inspired by his story to keep helping him grow, and so we read the bible together as a family. Our favorite verse is Deuteronomy 6:

Love the Lord Your God. These are the commands, decrees and laws the Lord your God directed me to teach you to observe in the land that you are crossing the Jordan to possess, so that you, your children and their children after them may fear the Lord your God as long as you live by keeping all his decrees and commands that I give you, and so that you may enjoy long life. 

To this day, his writing is not perfect, but he has improved. His reading is slow, but he loves to read and he is not ashamed of it and neither am I. Nine years ago, in 2009, he passed the U.S Citizen test. Not only did he accomplish that but he passed the test in the English version. And just four years ago, his first house became officially his.

 The past few years he’s been battling Pulmonary Fibrosis which has no cure. He was recently diagnosed with a rare skin disease and squamous skin cancer on his right ear. But despite all of that, his faith and trust in the Lord continues to grow and that is what has gotten him this far. There is not a day this man doesn’t get down on his knees and gives thanks to the Lord for his family. Now that, to me, is worth more than him having a Masters degree or a PhD title. Our relationship is not the best, I run after him, watching his every move, as if he were my child, but I wouldn’t trade that for anything.

Thank you, dad, for all that you do for your children, your wife, and now your granddaughter.We love you. Happy Father’s Day!

What impact has your father had in your life? Share your thoughts in the comments area below.

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