Joseph Pereira’s father can’t hold him anymore, but that doesn’t matter.
He was tall, strong, always kind and bigger than life to me—his son; someone he would break his bearing for, to lean over and welcome me into his “space.” I always looked forward to this, from as young as I can remember to an early evening in my early 20’s when we unknowingly exchanged our last hug. He died a few hours later, but his fragrance and essence never changed nor waned from my memory over time.
Through all these years since his passing, as I’ve argued, rebelled, mourned, finally settled on the event and just plainly missed him, I find myself returning to those memories for comfort and reprieve, always reaching the same conclusion: that he is my champion and my “hero” still. To hell with the undeniable physics of matter, space and time. For that which is vibrant in one’s heart, mind and spirit truly is “real” in a most powerful way, and so it is still between my father and me.
His presence remains through powerful memorable moments: tagging along for an evening gathering with his friends and invariably dozing-off on his lap—head leaning on his strong chest, small hands holding on to his large thumb—while they chatted away or listened to one of his friend’s piano rendition of a Chopin sonata. The safety of his arms combining with his fragrance and the languid melodic sound told me all was well with our world; the memory does so still.
Whether holding me as a kid and, much later, finally relenting and letting me go start my own adventures, my father exemplified, rather than spoke, the constancy and power of his love for me—the first son of the first son, an unbreakable link regardless of circumstances.
As far as I can tell, my father lived his life as a constant, with authenticity and balance between who he was as an individual—the elder sibling within a long-established clan, the steady head of our family, the creative professional, the wise leader and as my father. Growing up, he embodied and demonstrated all I eventually determined to be wholesome, bold, and desirable for myself: a personal ethos worthwhile striving to mimic and achieve.
Heading toward this Father’s Day, several decades and much life later, I find that I’m still actively working on understanding and practicing his essence, trying to reach parity with his deeply rooted baseline, as I had aimed to achieve back when I ventured out on my own.
So you see, Dad, although everything is different from what you and I thought and knew back when we were together, nothing has changed between you and me. Your essence reaches and holds me still when there’s need for your inspiration, wisdom, and love, and you are loved back unequivocally, with a quality and will that perhaps would not have been possible to feel or manifest had we remained within our physicality—the connection’s strength and trueness somewhat diluted by mundane events and circumstances.
I celebrate your name, your life, and your memory, father. May you rest in peace and know you are loved well.