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He loved to travel, he loved a good vodka and orange juice, and he loved being alive. Though I had always hoped that one day I would have enough money to send my parents on a cruise or something grand, I never got that opportunity. But I count my blessings. One summer when my husband and children and I studied Spanish in Guadalajara, my parents and my mother-in-law joined us. At the end of our studies we traveled to Puerto Vallarta. I remember my father swimming underwater to get to the wet bar, then reclining in the sun. This happiness exists in time as well as memory and warms me even now.

I have written before in the Reader of my father’s tragic death. He and my mother were murdered 11 years ago. The way the author John Berger describes the people in his village is the way I would like to tally my father’s life. “They were waiting to be completed by the knowledge and actions of their descendants. And, at the same time, they were complete for they had completed themselves: they could do no more.” The autopsy revealed that my father received multiple stab wounds and slashes to his left arm, used that arm like a shield in order to do battle with the attacker. My father loved my mother, cared for my mother, humored my mother, defended my mother — first, last, and always. Though it is an ugly thing to include in this portrait, it is the exact heroic act of defending what he loved most that completes the man my father was. My father’s children go on completing him, each in their respective way. I never told my father that I thought he was handsome, or that I liked his laughter, or that I leaned on his strength as my mother did, but I’d like to think that I’m telling him now.

This article is part of the Father's Day issue. To read additional articles from this issue, click here.

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