I will never forget the first time I hit a homerun (one of very few). You used to tell me how similar I was to you because I couldn’t hit the baseball for shit and either could you (yet somehow you played baseball for the Yankee Farm team). But I remember hitting my first homerun and as that ball went soaring out of the park I looked right to you and the smile on your face said it all…You were so happy to see me succeed and I was so happy to have you part of my success. Now fifteen years later I realized how much I actually learned that day. I learned that success is nothing without people to share it with. I learned that everyone needs someone in their corner cheering them on and I learned that teamwork is essential is every aspect of life.
You taught me so much more than just baseball. You taught me how to be the type of man this world needed. A man who lived for others and who did so with a smile on his face. You taught me to always support those you love and to be the light in their darker days.
But honestly Papi, it wasn’t until you got sick that you and I really started to become close. I gravitated to you because your smile was contagious. I had no idea how a man like you who dealt with so much pain could be so happy. As I grew older, I saw your conditions worsen as our family heard countless doctors tell you that the odds were stacked against you but I just watched you continue to smile. There was no discouraging a man like you.
You taught me that facing adversity isn’t easy but finding a way to smile through it makes it that much more manageable. Your smile was so sincere that it lifted us all to a better place.
Now it’s my turn. Now I live in chronic pain every day but thanks to you I know exactly what to do. I wake up everyday with a smile on my face because you taught me how to face my obstacles head on. You never complained so neither will I. I will use my adversity to inspire others the same way you inspired me.
Just know that I love you more than words and I wouldn’t be the man I am without you.
I love you Papi,
P.S. I still call Nani everyday. She is doing well, I promise.