Happy Father’s Day!

17 Jun

My Father

My Dad’s Work Journey

Mexican young man

My dad in 1968

Recently I was asked to do a writing assignment for one of my master’s degree courses. The title of the paper was “Experiencing Work”. I decided to write about my Dad and his work journey. I would like to share it with you too.

            “As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace…” ~ 1 Peter 4:10 

My father applied this verse to his life after discovering his gift in construction. Though he was twenty-seven years old when he learned of his gift, he was able to make a living from it, bless others with it, and make it a life hobby. Perhaps he embraced this job out of necessity and obligation, but it is noteworthy to examine how having a positive attitude, being grateful for an opportunity, and having a loving family really can make for a joyful work experience. This is my father’s work journey.            

Like many immigrants that come to America in pursuit of a better life, my parents also embarked in the journey in quest of a better life for themselves and their growing family in the late 1970’s.  They came to America without an education, minimal financial support, and unable to speak English. Father quickly found jobs working in the fields. When many field workers joined the Cesar Chavez movement for immigrant workers’ rights, my father looked the other way and simply worked hard to put food on the table for his family. Many co-workers rebuked him, but he felt he was working for his family and didn’t have time to do a march or worse, upset the bosses. As a result, he earned great standings with his employers.            

Though he was grateful for this job, he saw this as a stepping-stone and sought a higher compensating job.  At twenty-seven years of age, he had a wife and six kids to provide for. This was his motivation for seeking a job in another field.  Hence, he earned a job in a construction company with the help of his church friend. It was at this job he learned the ins and outs about construction.  Once again, his strong work ethic earned him high standings and his managers and architects considered him for several work projects. Again, those who were overlooked became jealous and upset at my father. All the workers, including my father, were Mexican immigrants, but unlike my father, they did not exhibit a strong work ethic, keen ability, or desire to do a job well done. Hence, the architect he met here went on to be a life long friend.            

After this company closed down, my father and the friend who had helped him get this job, Carlos, became partners and pursued construction together. Shortly after, his friend felt Father could pursue his own business and earn more if he found his own jobs.  Carlos felt he was getting too old to continue this line of work and told my father he’d pass on jobs to him if he needed more work.  So Father pursued his own American Dream without realizing it. He went from working for someone else to being his own boss and even hiring help for his projects. In retrospect, he is so grateful for this moment that didn’t come easy or simple to plan out. It was still worth the sacrifices and journey to America. As stated by Harper & Leicht (2011) “Never mind that the American Dream is oversimplified and imperfectly practiced; immigrants’ own experience often convinces them that conditions are vastly better in the United States than in the nations they left, or want to leave” (p. 132).  This was definitely the case for my parents.            

Father went on to work hard at his craft. He trained my brothers in this field, well he tried at least, but they obvious didn’t have the knack or passion for it as he did. One day he had the misfortune of breaking his leg and was forced to stay off his leg for three months.  For three months, his previous and current clients called our home to see how he was doing. They sent cards and flowers and wished him well on his recovery. Others who saw him work saw his passion for his job as did his family. Perhaps it was his strong worth ethic. Perhaps it was his sense of responsibility as sole breadwinner. Perhaps, he simply loved what he did.            

He was very involved in our church community and with his talent and supervision, they rebuilt the church’s kitchen. He didn’t seek compensation or recognition, but humbly accepted his plaque of appreciation during a church service. As his family, we were so honored and proud of Father for using his talent to bless others.    

 His joy and gift with construction was also his language of love. If Mom wanted something done to our home, he did it. When his children moved out and needed a job done at their home, he volunteered for it. When it rained and his friends called on him at the last-minute for help on a leaking roof, he was there.  His labor of love conveyed his admiration and adoration for others.

After retiring in his mid 60s in a suffering American economy, Father and Mother decided to venture back to their mother land where they could live mortgage free in Guadalajara, Mexico. There they built their dream home with the savings they had earned in America.  Although he did not get to work on the house himself, he did have the pleasure of supervising the construction of it. Mom says he still does odd small jobs around the house. He hasn’t given up his love of construction. He has now made it a hobby, albeit now undertaking smaller projects.

From his work journey he taught me perseverance, hard work ethic, and finding joy in your work where you can bless others with it.  What a privilege to find that you enjoy doing your job so much it becomes your hobby. Finding something that you would pursue to do with or without a paycheck is a passion. They say children learn more from what they see a parent do as oppose to what their parent says.  Well, to this day, his construction jobs serve as reminders of who he is as a person, a worker, and a father to me. 

I have discovered my passion for fashion, sales, and working with people and in the near future, I too plan to achieve my American Dream of opening a bridal/formal women’s attire shop.  Perhaps entrepreneurship and strong work ethic is in our genes. Perhaps it was all by chance. Perhaps having a loving family, assuming your responsibility and finding your passion really could lead to a joyful job.

“If a man is called to be a street sweeper, he should sweep streets even as Michelangelo painted, or Beethoven composed music, or Shakespeare wrote poetry. He should sweep streets so well that all the hosts of heaven and earth will pause to say, here lived a great street sweeper who did his job well.” Martin Luther King, Jr.

I believe my father did just that and somewhere along the way of embracing his commitment as breadwinner for his family, having a thankful spirit, and a loving family, this became his passion, his hobby, and his labor of love.

My father and I

With Dad on June 2012

2 Responses to “Happy Father’s Day!”

  1. ruby June 17, 2012 at 9:28 am #

    I loved reading it. It was very nice of you to write about my uncle.

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