One of our summer baseball trips--Dad in his Yankee blue!
Last Tuesday night I went to sleep with a heavy heart. My dad was in the hospital and had just been put on a ventilator. By 4 a.m. while getting ready for my drive to Fort Worth, we got the call. I cried and cried, torn about what to do.
I knew my dad would’ve wanted me to carry on with the day’s plans: go to class and attend an important scheduled meeting at the Tarrant County Criminal District Attorney’s Office (DA), but I didn’t know how I’d hold it together. My mom convinced me to go. I don’t remember most of the drive to Fort Worth; my mind was elsewhere.
I remember at fourteen wanting to go to a school dance and asking dad first because I knew he’d convince my mom; he did. I remember that vast parking lot where, at sixteen, he showed me how to drive. I recall how patient he was with me driving that old Chevy truck and how, because of him, I’ve gone my whole life a safe and careful driver with not so much as a parking ticket to my name. I remember him running up and down the street along with the marching band —he was one of the dads that hauled the water jugs to make sure we all had enough to drink during those long, hot parades.
As a grown up, we often laughed about the side jobs he used to take—hauling brush and junk for other people. Even when he was working, he’d always stop in time to pick me up at the high school. That truck would come down the street, overflowing with limbs and trash, and pull up in front; I was mortified. I’d rip open the door, fly into the cab and scoot down on the floor board telling him to hurry up and go. Instead, he’d park and look to see who was chasing me—ready to take on anyone who wanted to hurt me. Me: “Uh, dad…nobody’s chasing me, I just don’t want to be seen in this junk truck!” He’d throw his head back laughing. Those were good times.
In the last several years we started a family tradition of going to see the Yankees play the Rangers every summer; he loved that. I would buy the tickets right around this time every year and tell dad so he’d be looking forward to it for months—we’d go to celebrate his birthday in May. Last summer was to be our last.
Dad was one of the only people that never questioned my decision to come to law school. He always told me how proud he was of me. At the funeral, many people knew about me because of him; he apparently talked about me a lot. I’m heartbroken that when I graduate in May, he will not be there. I picked up my graduation pictures the very day he passed away. I also went to the DA’s Office and nailed that interview. The following day I got an email that I’ve been accepted into the DA’s Criminal Prosecution Clinic next semester. There were only six spots available and on one of the saddest days of my life I still managed to make my dad proud.
This one’s for you, Dad. I love you. Jose E. Paez, May 4, 1936 – November 16, 2011.