3:00 in the morning, a father of four wonderful children wakes up and begins his day. Five minutes on the dot, you begin to hear the sounds of a coffee machine that has been used too many times go off in the kitchen, with the smell of strong coffee following not too far behind. Then comes the steady squeaking of a rocking chair that has been in the family for over 20 years. Ten minutes later, the water from a hot shower gently hits the walls next to my room followed by a very determined brushing of the teeth. These are the sounds of my father as he gets ready for a job he has been doing for the past 40 years of his life. He rises before the sun, before most of the city really, to push bags and luggage into the underbelly of an airplane. Recently, a set of new sounds have been added to his routine: grunts of pain and age have begun to replace the soft rumblings of the TV and the coffee machine. My father is a hard working man, one of the hardest working men I’ve ever known. He is a good man, a good father, and his good nature has rubbed off on all his children.
The funniest thing about my father is that my siblings and I really don’t know much about his past. We would get tidbits when we go to Hawaii to visit family or when he regales us with an anecdote with a lesson behind it, but we really do not know know much. I know that he was raised by a single mother when his father died when he was young. I know that he used to be a forklift driver when he was my age, blowing his hard earned cash on alcohol like what I do now. I also recently learned that he was a bell hop for a few years too before working for a major airline company. However, knowing his past is not that important to me. What is important is that his past has shaped him into the person he is today. I remember when I really started going out and partying in college, my father sat me down and told me that if I was too drunk to drive to just call him and he would pick me up with no questions asked.
For all my life, my father has been supporting our family of six with such humility and determination. There was always food on the table, presents under the Christmas tree, and a vacation to lands never before seen after a hard year of elementary and middle school. Even after having surgery on his stomach due to appendicitis and his shoulder injured, he continues to wake up at 3:00 in the morning to take care of us. On some days he would work from 3:00 am until 9 pm and do it all over again the next day. How does he do it? The answer is simple – it’s for us, his family, his wife and sons and daugther. I only hope to be half the man he is when I reach his age.
One of the things that I have fortunately picked up from my father is his electric charisma. He can make friends with anyone by the simple act of him just being him. I’ve seen it happen before my own eyes, for example we were stuck in an airport in Hong Kong overnight. We had to sleep on their “neo-modern” airport chairs and hopefully get some shut eye. My father saw how uncomfortable we were and he left, with determination on his face, on a quest. The next thing I knew, he was laughing along with a Filipino he met who worked in the airport over night who brought us pillows, blankets, and cots for us. I’m pretty sure we still have those blankets we used from Hong Kong in our house. Now I carry his same charisma around, charming every single person I meet with my devilish smile and rogue-like looks.
My father and mother will be celebrating their marriage of 30 years in a few months. Yes they had their fights but through it all they still love each other. My dad works everyday for us. He works 12 hour shifts and still manages to have enough energy to check on my older sister, to lecture me in starting my 401k, to make sure both of my younger brothers are focused on their studies. I do not have many heroes in my life but my father, Reynaldo Leonardo, is a superhero to all of us because everyday at 3:00 in the morning he wakes up and begins his day. Not for fame nor for glory but for his amazing wife and his amazing four children. Love you, Dad.