My father was a man of many contrasts, with moments of extreme emotions that could show up with little notice as bursts of intense anger, or an immense sensitivity that led to deep reflections. He followed his favorite sports religiously, shouting profanities at the TV when players screwed up and enthusiastically celebrating the victories of his favorite teams as if they were his own.
His most sensitive side, which revealed the most vulnerable part of his soul, usually came out after a few good drinks. Those were the great talks that brought us close to him, filling us with ideas and new revelations.
My dad loved the good life. Good food. A good party. Music of many styles. He would tell stories of how his work in aviation had given him the opportunity to see some of his favorite jazz musicians live in the bars of New York, and he would say that in many cases, he struck up friendships with them. He enjoyed trio music and singing boleros accompanied by his guitar. The traditional church hymns that he grew up with and that accompanied him all his life, also held a very special place for him; brightening our Christmases and bringing him comfort in his last days.
Aviation, like my mother, came to his life almost by accident, like a destiny that had already been mapped out for him without him having imagined it. With AeroMexico he lived many of his happiest working years. "It allowed me to fly in every sense," he once told me.
We also took flight with him, living unique experiences, like that trip we made to New York one December, walking the streets, wrapped in our coats to admire the huge Christmas tree at Rockefeller Center, seeing the Rockettes at Radio City Music Hall, and listening to a concert of Handel's Messiah at the Presbyterian Church on Fifth Avenue.
Things didn't always work out the way he dreamed. AeroMexico went bankrupt a few months before he was due to retire, robbing him of all the rights he had acquired for his retirement in nearly three decades of work. But he pressed on despite the disappointments and setbacks, reinventing himself again and again for as long as he had strength and energy.
He worked for a brief time for a government institution, Industrias Conasupo, and then for El Bravo newspaper in Tamaulipas, for which he opened a sales office in Brownsville that became a great success.
He later founded his own publication, a monthly newspaper focused on promoting Mexican tourism in Texas, which he published for four years, from January 1997 to July 2001, while living in Ciudad Victoria, Tamaulipas.
Always a lover of books, he studied all of his life, formally and informally. In 2001, the government of the state of Tamaulipas started an English program in public schools and my dad was invited to participate in a teachers training course. At the end of the course, he was offered a position teaching 4th grade in Villa Mainero, the small town in Northern Mexico where both his parents are buried.
His work as an English teacher injected him with new life and brought him much satisfaction. He was admired by his students, who spoke of “the profe“ with affection and respect. It also motivated him to achieve something he had put off until then - getting a college degree.
So, at the age of 69, he inspired us all with his dedication and determination as he received his Bachelor's degree in English from Universidad Autónoma de Tamaulipas in June 2006.
His life in Mainero was quiet, perhaps too quiet. And after a while, his adventurous spirit took hold again and led him to accept an invitation from an old friend to take charge of a construction project in Cancun, and later, two other similar projects in Chetumal.
Things did not end well there due to complications beyond his control. In the end, he decided to return to his beloved Mainero, tired and somewhat disappointed, to renew his spirit in the place where he always found peace and could find himself again.
Once in Mainero, he wanted to start studying again. He talked about pursuing a law degree so he could help the local people, who often sought him out to ask for guidance with different problems.
He enrolled in an online degree program, but soon began to feel frustrated with the new technologies that were required in order to keep up with his studies. He wanted to keep learning, his mind was eager to learn, but he lacked patience and eventually lost interest.
My dad was not lacking in dreams, projects or imagination. If anything, he was too much of a dreamer. He often felt that life was taking him in the direction he was meant to go, sometimes without him being able to take control of his own destiny. But he was always searching for more, something he had not yet achieved.
In the midst of it all, he was always willing to help anyone who came to him for support. Family, friends, neighbors. Whenever we needed him, he was there. He never failed us.
Old age weighed heavily on him towards the end. He seemed to have lost that sense of purpose that had motivated him before. Perhaps we did not understand how much this affected his mood. Sometimes he was angry. Others he was simply disheartened. Now that he is not here, his absence reminds me that it is only human to feel down. We can all feel lonely at times. But we don't have to suffer alone.
One thing I saw in the last weeks before his departure was that when it was necessary to show support, we were all there for him, always ready to help and express love, in spite of the distance and the difficult circumstances. That is how I want to remember him, instilling in us that mutual support that he always taught us, despite our differences in philosophies and visions of life. Enjoying one of those many
moments together. Talking about life. Smiling.
I picture him flying high, strong as an eagle, the way he always wanted to be remembered.
Always in my heart, may you rest in peace, Dad.