I don’t want to lose hope. . . so I won’t.
My father, born Mario Francisco Vidal on October 4, 1923 in Key West, son to Victor Vidal and Dolores Lopez Mayg, also of Key West, FL, passed away this past July 6th, three months shy of his 90th birthday. You may have even ready my post of the day he passed and perhaps even been one of the countless well-wishers who crashed my e-mail server with e-mails! My father loved his home town and carried that love, and the name of Key West, to the 18 countries that he would live in during his career as one of the world’s top hoteliers. Before passing away, the only request he made of his wife and his five sons was that Key West be the final resting place for his ashes. Our family’s commitment to honoring my father’s last request is what is at the root of this message, but it can be much more than that, if we choose as much.
Our plan is to drive to Key West on Friday; October 4, 2013, what would have been his 90th birthday, and together with friends and other members of the family we will do as he instructed us to and spread his ashes out on the water from the Reynolds Street Pier, the very place where he learned to swim as a child. My father was a man who spread a great deal of love during his lifetime and that love was returned and has manifested in the multitudes of people who will join us on October 5th to bring a Native Son of Key West back home to rest and pay our last respects. We need your help to do this; How? We need a tiny bit of financial support in order to make this happen and you can be a part of it! I am asking for you help by contributing whatever you can. There are many of you and even though we only have 24 hours, I’ve never known you to back down or not step up. This is a chance to do better, between all of us, we can give my father the only this he asked all of us for: to go back home to rest in peace. I invite you to participate in what is a truly human event. I will be posting on the events of the upcoming weekend and everyone who was a part of this journey will have their name listed in the honor plaque that I will post next weekend; never forget – what any one of us can do, two can improve on and many of us can make it happen! Thank you for your support! Just click on the Donate button below to join the caravan and bring a native son of Key West back home!
Now this is what I call doing better!
Just click on the link below to be a part of this grand homecoming! Thank you!
“This is the first of a series of posts with the same title: “Conversations with my father”. I like the multi-function use of the title: It’s the title and the content. Each post’s title will have the subject of that particular conversation with my father at the end of the title. Enjoy!”
This was the last complete, coherent and contiguous conversation I had with my father; it was not that long ago.
While visiting one Sunday, my father approached me and asked if I could spare him a minute or two. My father was always the living example of courtesy and chivalry. We sat in my study and he said;
“Son, I’ve come to realize and accept that you are a fully grown adult and have earned the right to be called a man. That means that my job, the one I accepted as your father is complete and I am satisfied with the job I’ve done. Your job; the one you accepted, whether you like it not, is different, but that’s your road, not mine. I’m just letting you know that you can start yours whenever you like, you’re ready.”
This was not not a typical conversation to have with my father and he was not one to say something like this as a prank, so I did what I usually did with anything my father told me: I took it at face value and gave it due consideration. Our conversations were not humorless, however; I took a moment to comment on how timely his announcement of my manhood was, after all, I was only 50. We laughed for a moment and then I knew that he expected a reply from me.
I began to do some furious math in order to reply properly; there was not a single moment during his life that passed without my wanting to make him proud of me. After considering his statement as carefully as I could, I had a reply for him; I said;
“You know, pop, that’s a very important issue for me. I know I have a job to do. I’m not scared and I’m confident that I am well prepared for whatever it may be, but it is somewhat unsettling at times to not know what is expected of me.”
My father jumped right back into the conversation with a combination of wisdom and mischief in those hauntingly blue eyes of his. He sat upright and said:
“Excuse me. What did you just say? Did you say you didn’t know what is expected of you? That isn’t even a coherent sentence in English – and you’re supposed to be the smart one! There cannot be any expectation of any person without another person to hold that expectation; it’s a strictly human concept. Oh, shit! Now I’m beginning to talk like you! He giggled and continued. How can you tell me that you don’t know what is expected of you without knowing or mentioning WHO is the owner of that expectation? Only people can have expectations of other people, so who were you referring to when you said you didn’t know what was expected of you, perhaps Society? Society isn’t a person, it can’t have expectations of you or anyone else, but we can choose to believe it can and if you do; you’re fucked. So, Mr. Smarty pants, would you like to try that again?
I said, quickly: “Wow, Pop, that’s good” Because it was. It left me pondering (a dangerous thing to do.)
After a few minutes, I turned to face my father, who was sitting patiently, immensely enjoying the opportunity to watch me squirm and said. You are, of course, right Pop. I have to re-do all the math on that. Thanks, Pop, if you hadn’t brought the point up, I could have easily screwed the pooch when the time came! Then I had a thought a with it the hope of redeeming myself from the hole I had so easily fallen into during that conversation. Almost immediately, I said:
“Hey, pop, may I ask you something, since we’re here and already talking?”
–“Of course!” He shot back.
I looked him square in the eyes, which was not an easy thing to do with him, and asked him:
“Indeed, you have completed your job and have declared as much, but you are still my father, so I ask you; Father; what do you expect of me, Sir?”
I thought I had him for sure, but then I saw his mischievous grin begin to form and he sat back in his chair, crossed his legs, put his hands on his lap and very calmly and very matter-of-factually answered:
“Me? I expect for you to change the world.”
What else can be said and what else can any man hope to know beyond what his father expects of him.
That’s my Pop.