I Know You’re Proud


By Michael Armijo

You know, I never really called him daddy. My sister did, and I always envied how he brought that up so many times. But now I can say, “I miss my daddy.” When he died something inside me died. I think it was the first time I realized that I was really on my own. I always felt that dad would “take me in” had I ever made a major mistake in life, had I lost everything and had no place to go. But that feeling is gone, I no longer have a ‘safety net’ in my life. He’s not there to “take me in” anymore. At that time I realized that there was no turning back.

I do miss him, despite the anger he carried and conveyed to me. But what I miss is his strength; and later, his encouragement. He always told me how he admired the way I took on the world if I had a dream. He always said I was so strong to make hard decisions and take action. He loved to watch me work. And he loved working with me. The funny thing is, now that he’s gone I don’t make hard decisions anymore. I don’t take action like I used to. Maybe I was showing off to daddy, trying to be the star above the other kids in our family. But my dad meant so much to all of us, we all tried so hard to be number one in our daddy’s eyes. And fortunately, we all got our turn to be number one. But I almost didn’t get my turn, being the youngest. I got my turn at the end of his life. Had I not confronted him five years before he died, had I not tried to get my turn at being the number one child, I never would’ve received my fifteen minutes of ‘family fame.’

In retrospect, our family never really communicated. I think this is why it took me so long to really get to know my father. It’s kind of strange, we really didn’t know what was deep inside daddy, but we needed to be recognized by him. It meant so much to us to be recognized by someone we often felt was a stranger. And I know that I kept many things to myself, holding many memories prisoner in my mind, and some in my heart, that I never shared with him. He did teach us that we had the ability to do whatever we wanted, but he never really taught us how to communicate. I believe we need clarity; this assures us of where we stand within our lives. We would then teach our children to understand the importance of expression, the importance of how to express our feelings.

When I expressed how I felt to my father, I found out why he treated us the way he did. When we discussed his life and what happened to him when he was a child, the abuse and the neglect he endured (and we ultimately inherited), we understood, together, what happened to him. And what happened to us. But we forgave and we healed. I became more of a complete person; I closed those rough chapters in my life. This is why I believe in the importance of the ‘healing power of expression.’

Although my dad and I became close friends and I got to know him on a personal level, there is something that I always wished he would’ve said to me, something I waited all my life to hear but never did. Something I know he died with, in his heart, but he never verbally gave to me. The five simple words, “I’m so proud of you.” That’s all I ever wanted to hear from my daddy, that’s the one thing that will always be a void at the corner of my soul.

I also realized something that I never thought of: I never told my dad that I was proud of him, either. I am left to wonder if he carried the same disappointment in his life, as I did with mine. But today, what keeps me going is the hope that he’s looking down upon me each day, watching what I do and how my time is being spent. And I believe that he can’t hear what I say, but instead, he can see what’s truly deep within my heart. And as the sun shines warm rays upon me and as the wind whispers through the trees, I can lift my head high and close my eyes and feel his joyous heart whisper that he is so very proud of me; and my heart silently whispers back, that I too, am very proud of him.