It’s hard to believe my dad would have turned 90 today. He died at the age of 87 in 2011. Recently, while throwing out old stuff, I found a letter he wrote to me in Spanish when I was a student at UT-Austin.
Things you have to try to remember. Try to read the newspaper in Spanish so that you can practice writing in Spanish. Also, don’t forget to talk to Mrs. Ramos regarding your scholarship. Please tell her that you will tell everyone how much she has helped you, in other words, that you are very grateful and that you will not let her down. Another thing, I don’t want you to feel alone at college. You know that we are with you at every moment.
The letter made me laugh and cry. It was typical of my dad to always remind me to do things like change the oil in my car, write thank you notes and read some interesting or important article he’d seen. He loved reading the newspaper every day. That’s largely how he taught himself English, often asking me what a word meant or how to pronounce it.
Dad wanted me to master the English language and do well in school, especially since he had little formal education. But he also didn’t want me to forget my roots – my Mexican heritage – or how to speak Spanish. Today when I write stories about immigrants or children of immigrants, I often think of him and my family.