“When I was a boy of 14, my father was so ignorant I could hardly stand to have the old man around. But when I got to be 21, I was astonished at how much the old man had learned in seven years.”
This quote from Mark Twain perhaps best summarizes the evolutionary nature of the relationship between a son or daughter and their father. When you’re a child or a teenager, the tendency is to look at your father as a bit of a pain in the neck. But as you grow up, have a career, get married and have a family of your own, and face the daily pressures of life as a father, you quickly realize that your father was much smarter, much wiser and much greater than you used to give him credit for. All of this causes you to reflect more about your father, and as you do so you really start to get to know him as a person and a provider, and all of the stuff that he has accomplished and overcome.
Not too long ago, I sat down and wrote out a list of all these accomplishments and bumps on the road that my father has had to find a way around, over or through (through usually being his preferred option). It was a very long list. It was much longer than 10 things. But let me give you my Top 10 List of things I am most proud of my father for.
Number 10: The tenth thing I’m most proud of my father for is for becoming a pilot. Not every son or daughter has a father who flies his own airplane. Kind of cool.
Number 9: The ninth thing I’m most proud of my father for is talking his way past the attendants on the ramp of a docked Soviet cruise ship by quickly flashing his driver’s license at them and saying “I’m Dr. Cáceres and I need to get on this ship right now“, and then proceeding to give me and my brother Victor a tour of the vessel.
Number 8: The eighth thing I’m most proud of my father for is spending time with me as a kid showing me how to kick the soccer ball, throw a baseball, shoot, swim, play chess, and learn the capitals of the world. I have good memories of my childhood.
Number 7: The seventh thing I’m most proud of my father for is for always keeping alive our Honduran heritage, telling us stories of the family and the good old days, and forcing us to speak Spanish at home.
Number 6: The sixth thing I’m most proud of my father for is his tough guy-ness, integrity, and tenacity. He taught us always to stand up for what we believe in, absolutely never be followers, never give up, and always have unquestioned integrity.
Number 5: The fifth thing I’m most proud of my father for was the father-son talk we had after he realized his 21 year-old son was dating an older woman. I’ll never forget his enlightened words of wisdom. They went like this: “Be careful. Be very careful.”
Number 4: The fourth thing I’m most proud of my father for is for sending me to military school. If he hadn’t have shipped me off to Hargrave Military Academy without hesitation, god knows where I’d be now.
Number 3: The third thing I’m most proud of my father for is the way he has taken care of my mother and his children. We have never lacked for anything and we have remained a united family under his leadership.
Number 2: The second thing I’m most proud of my father for is his career as a surgeon, and how he struggled to become one in a foreign language and culture. Curing and saving the lives of tens of thousands of people is no small feat. Being a healer is perhaps the most noble profession of all.
Number 1: Finally… the thing I’m most proud of my father for is… well, is his boundless energy and love of adventure and the challenge. Let me show you just one example… (play video of papa parachuting out of plane)