Rosita and Papa
Throughout my childhood my father always told my siblings and I, “When I die, I won’t be leaving you money, because we’re not rich. The only thing I can give you that you will have forever is an education.” My dad was right – when he passed, no lawyer came up to let us know he left millions in inheritance. However, he did keep true to his word and provided us all with the opportunity to pursue higher education.
My parents are extremely intelligent, both with a Masters in Chemistry, and my mother even has a second Masters in Education Administration. The importance of education was always stressed in my home. Even with working full-time jobs and taking classes at night (ESL when they first arrived in this country and later graduate courses), my parents always stayed up to help with homework or projects. And my parents didn’t only strive to educate us, but others as well. After they retired, they both taught ESL classes to bilingual parents in the community. We always knew that education was a big deal to our folks, but my dad was wrong in saying that education is the only thing he would leave us.
This past week was the hardest week of our lives. What got us through it was remembering all the things my dad, or as we called him, “Papá”, left us. We talked as a family about what each of us siblings had inherited from Papá. We decided my brother Carlos, the oldest, inherited Papá’s sense of humor. My dad was always cracking corny jokes and being a goofball. My sister Liz got his love of dancing. At any party they attended, my parents were always the first people on the dance floor, and they were always the last ones to leave. I got his taste in music. On the weekends, Papá and I would sit together in the living room and listen to the Beatles and other oldies music, which I still prefer to listen to over any music that’s playing on a Top-40 station. Gloria, the youngest, inherited his temper and strength. My dad had a pretty scary temper, but to this day he is the strongest person I know and it’s a strength I see in my little sister.
Papá left us so much – memories, funny stories, and words of wisdom. I’ll never forget what he said when I told him I was taking a job with the National PTA and would be moving from our hometown of Joliet, Ill., to Chicago. He said, “Mija, I gave you all wings so that you could fly.”
Papá, we will miss you so much. Thank you so much for giving your children and so many others the gift of education – a gift that is much more valuable than money. You also left a bit of you in each of your children. You will always be in our hearts.
Please join me in supporting PTA’s Million Hours of Power campaign to encourage more men to get involved and support the education of their children. Vote at Pepsi Refresh Project.
– Rosa Vivanco is Programs & Partnerships Coordinator for PTA. Her mother, Liduvina, resides in Minooka, IL along with her two sisters and niece, Lily. Minooka is near Rosa’s hometown of Joliet, IL where her brother and his family live.