Today I thought of you, of course because my car needed repair and this is the first time in my life that I have ever had to worry about it or take care of it on my own. That was always your job, I didn’t think twice about it. You were always there to take care of me, to take care of my car when it needed any sort of repair large or small. I never had to worry about it.

In the last year of your life, you pulled away, you distanced yourself from all of us and I couldn’t understand why. Then one day, it dawned on me, you were teaching us how to take care of ourselves because you were not going to be there anymore to take care of us. You were “kicking us out of the nest” so that we could grow. Growth is hard, I wish it didn’t have to be so painful or cost so much.

I was reminded of this challenge today when my friend said that maybe my flat tire was your way of saying hello and I said, “Yes, and his reminder to me that I need to learn how to care for myself.” Then I started to cry a little because I miss you and I wish I didn’t have to take care of things like this without your love, support, and help.

I tried to sit down and write about you before but it was too soon, I hadn’t had the time that I needed to process your death. I am still processing it in many ways. While looking through photos of you leading up to your funeral, I was struck by one thing in particular – a photo of you with me as an infant and a photo of you with Madi when she was an infant – you have literally been there for me my entire life. You were always there when I needed you and now you’re gone …

Since you’ve left, I have come to realize in a deeper way how valuable family really is. You loved your family, you took care of all of us in more ways than we could ever count. In talking to my brothers and sisters, we all have stories of the ways that you helped us out financially. You helped each of us start out in life in one way or another. Your love and generosity can still be seen in our family, it is your legacy that continues to live through us. We sometimes joke that we should just have a “family bank” the way money revolves between all of us whenever someone has a need. It also extends out beyond our family circle, we all love to care for other people, its what you did and it continues to be what we do. I guess you could say it’s a Perez thing.

Thank you Papa, for always being there, for leaving me with such a wonderful legacy of love, generosity and family. You always pushed me to finish school and now that is a goal that I am close to attaining. Your loss will be felt greatly when I graduate, because I know that you would have been so proud. I think of you often, especially when I drive down old back roads we drove down together or pass by a junkyard full of parts that you loved to tinker with.  I still get sad when I think of how Madi will miss out on knowing you and when I hold her close, I like to think I am passing on the love you gave me, to her.

May we both make you proud and I hope that if you can, you’re looking down on us and making sure that we are ok. Kinda like you did today when you sent me your little message, one I really needed to hear today, “Take care of yourself Leah.”

I love you Papa, you were the best man I’ve ever known.




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