Sunday, June 18, 2006


Abba is an Aramaic word for father. It's like our "daddy."

In Spanish, abba might be translated papi. That's what I called my pop, the Cuban version of daddy. You'd say it sort of like: PAH-pea.

I wish all you wonderful dads out there a HAPPY ABBA'S DAY.

And for all of you who still have living daddies: I insist you spoil your papis like mad and kiss them like crazy and feed them good things and tell them over and over how much you love-love-love them. Good fathers are irreplaceable treasures.

My abba--Francisco, Pancho, or (as my mom called him) Naran--died August 17, 1998. That's almost 8 years without being able to enjoy my Papi's laugh, see his face, watch him walk to the bakery for fresh Cuban bread, hear him putter in the backyard. Eight years since I've giggled when he teased my Mami.

I miss him terribly. So, today is kinda sad for me. And kinda happy. I thank God I had a Papi who loved me, who suffered for me, who gave up things for himself so I could have things I needed or wanted, who lit up when I came into a room.

So, I've been blessed.

I also carry the pain of knowing he suffered a great deal in his life, as did my Mami, and that he never got to return to a free Cuba, because the Castro regime outlived my father, who died at the age of 89--a couple weeks shy of 90, in fact.

I talk about that sometimes to my other abba, my heavenly Papi, God. I understand David's cry and lament about the wicked. Why do they thrive? Why do they flourish? Why do they live so long and do so much harm?

Well, enough of that. I choose today to remember the good: My dad peeling mangoes for me; taking me to Palisades Park or the Bronx Zoo; sucking and munching on sugar cane that my mother grew, while I did the same next to him; making ice cream by hand for the family, his special recipe; watching Westerns and Laurel and Hardy on tv, me translating; swimming far, far out in the ocean, and me with my toes in the wet sand, scared, so scared of losing him, waiting for him to come back safely to shore, hating the separation, and then that rushing joy when he came back and picked me up in his arms.

He's out in the ocean for a little while. Eight years, so far.

I'm the one who has to swim out to meet him someday.

A theological side-trip:

God is due the honor of a father (Malachi 1:6) and Israel referred to Him as such. (Jeremiah 3:4)

For Christians, the fatherhood of God is enshrined forever in the most famous of Christian prayers, the one Jesus used to show his apostles (and us) how to pray: "Our Father, Who art in heaven, hallowed be Thy Name . . . " (Matthew 6:9) The whole gospel of John upholds the glory of the Father, and the New Testament teaches we are adopted daughters and sons through faith in Christ, that our "sonship" is witnessed by the indwelling of the Spirit. We are part of God's family. And He is the Head.

Interestingly, and sadly to my thinking, God is not "father" is Islam. Surah 5:18 says, " "Jews and the Christians say, 'We are sons of Allah and His beloved'. Say: why then doth He punish you for your sins? Nay, you are but men of the men He has created."


Bonnie Calhoun said...

I know how you feel. My dad's been dead since 1980....but he was walking with the Lord , so I will see him again...Praise Jesus!

Mirtika said...

Wow, 1980. He's been gone a long time, Bonnie. Yes, Ipraise that your Father is with Jesus and your reunion is assured.

My dad's salvation is "up in the air", so part of my sadness is the lacking of certainty. The hope, but not the assured hope.