When a man lives
With strength and spirit
When he keeps his eye
On what matters most
And gives his best to each day…
Everything is possible for him.
The world needs more men
Good Folks, it is the Friday before Father’s Day 2015.
I received a card recently with these very words. Father’s Day is around the corner. Some will open this email on Friday or someday afterwards. I invite you to go into your memories of the first encounter with your father, or for some, a male role figure. In my family, my father was a prominent figure in our lives. His name was Ricardo Hernandez Alegria, Sr. and he was a formidable presence.
I would address my dad as “Old Man.” I started this in the 10th grade when I enrolled in the Naval Junior Reserve Officer Training Corp (NJROTC). There was a Commander Whilden and Master Chief White who were in charge of our program. I so enjoyed my time in ROTC. I learned about the Navy, its history and many battles during WWII, and saw countless films. I learned about ranks (E1, E2, etc.) and the comparable ranks to other branches of the military. In the Navy, a Captain of the ship is addressed as “Old Man.” It is not a sign of disrespect, but on the contrary. The Captain is in charge.
Dad was in charge of the fish market, all business dealings that affected the family and just about everything. In January 1978, my father took ill with the Guillain-Barre´ Syndrome that paralyzed him for more than a month. He could not return to work or the fish market for about one year. My father, at the age of 55, had to re-learn all of life’s abilities. He persevered, and returned to a world that he loved.
My father was a stubborn man at times; yet he taught me the value of a dollar. He was a “slave drive driver”; yet he taught me how to work. My father was orphaned at an early age, yet family was important to him…for he provided everything we needed…and he and momma worked hard to offer us six children an education. He received his PhD from the “University of Hard Knocks,” for he only got as far as the third grade in his formal education. I could write more, but for a later time.
Dad will have been gone for 21 years in September. I thank God for my father. Perfect, far from it. Forgiven, yes. A child of God, yes. Forgotten, never. He was dearly loved and respected by family and friends, and served the church that offered him Christ…which he received into his heart.
Love you, “Old Man,”
Honor your father and your mother, so that your days may be long in the land that the LORD your God is giving you. Exodus 20:12 (NRSV)