Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Losing Grandpa

Two weeks ago, my father-in-law passed away unexpectedly from heart failure. My wife is terribly saddened by the loss of her dad, who was only 52 years old. I am certainly sad in my own right, as I will miss my father-in-law. But much of my sadness stems from how his passing will affect other people, especially my wife and our son.

My father-in-law, who went by Meco (his real name was Arquímedes), was a very loving and fun-loving man. My wife, Claudia, has been telling me how his childhood was not all that great because his parents were not very affectionate people – they did not show their children much love. So, my father-in-law decided that when he had children, he was going to be different than his own parents. He was going to make sure his kids knew every day how much he loved them.

He made good on that promise - he used to call my wife nearly every day just to see how she was doing, and he would always ask about everyone else – me, our son, my parents, even my dog. My wife has told me several times since his passing how much she misses his hugs and kisses and him simply saying, “I love you” to her.

Meco was also the kind of guy who never said “no” to anyone who needed help. In fact, his immediate family would often get frustrated that he spent so much of his time, energy, and even money lending a helping hand (or two, or three!) to friends and extended family in need.

It was easy to predict that a man with so much zest for life and love of family would also be a very proud grandfather. He would often joke with my wife when she was only in her early 20’s that she was “getting old” and needed to give him grandkids soon. To say the least, he was elated when our son, Vinny, was born last January. Other than my wife and me, he was the first family member to hold our son. The pictures we have of him on that day are priceless; he was on cloud 9.

In fact, only 4 days before he went into the hospital (6 days before he died), Meco took Vinny on a long walk – just him and his grandson. One of my wife’s cousins saw him across the street from his house, walking Vinny in his stroller. He asked him, “What are you doing by yourself out here with Vinny?” Meco replied, “I just wanted to spend some time with him.”

This is what causes me the most sadness when I think about Meco’s passing – that my son will not get to know his mommy’s daddy. It breaks my heart to think of all of the wonderful times that they won’t get to spend together. I know they would have had so much fun (and made a lot of trouble!).

But my wife and I will do everything we can to make sure Vinny knows what kind of guy his abuelo (Spanish for grandfather) was. That he was a man who truly loved his family and lived his life for them.

And I will be proud to tell my son one day that one of the last things your abuelo did while he was still with us was to take you for a nice, long walk because... well, he just wanted to spend some time with you.

Vinny with his grandpa, Meco

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Congrats to Military Fatherhood Award winner Chris Cady!

600 nominations. 3 finalists. 1 winner.

For the past few years, NFI has been recognizing military fathers for their commitment to the country and their families. This year, we gave America the opportunity to choose the recipient of this award. After narrowing 600 nominations down to three finalists - quite a difficult task! - we introduced three great military dads on our Facebook page. Thousands of people voted, and we are pleased to announce that Navy 1st Class Petty Officer Christopher Cady is NFI's 2011 Military Fatherhood Award recipient! Congratulations Chris!

Watch the announcement of the winner on Sunday's Fox and Friends show:

The 2011 Military Fatherhood Award will be presented to LS1 Cady on his base in June, along with sponsor prizes and other surprises. The winner's and two finalists' bases will also receive Fatherhood Resource Centers filled with NFI's educational materials for dads!

You can learn more about LS1 Cady and his son Joshua, who was born with Cytomegalovirus, by reading his nomination.

Congratulations also go to the other two finalists for the Military Fatherhood Award, Army Captain Scott Kulla and Air Force Major Marc Mathes. We are grateful to all three of these dads for their service to the country and for setting a great example as involved, responsible, and committed fathers!

Learn about how National Fatherhood Initiative supports Military Fathers and Families, and how you can too!