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Acepta Lo Que Tienes/Deja Ir Lo Que No Te Conviene

by Pamela Rodriguez


To my papis, thank you for teaching me what love from a Dominican man is supposed to look like. Not perfect, but present.

-PMR

Ción Papi— how näive of me to bestow such an honor to a man I barely knew!

Ción Papi—I wanted his blessing: “Dios te bendiga mi hija.”


Pero diganme, como un hombre que duró seis años para conocer a su bendición (yo) puede bendecirme? Yet there I was, yearning for the love of this unknown man responsible for my genes, and so at merely six years old, I ran to his arms, wishing and hoping—after tirelessly asking mami about him—that this would be the moment papi would stay.


He lifted me and carried me up. There I was on top of the world with my papi.

¡Ay mi niña! Que inocente y que necesidad de querer a tu papi. ¿Quién te culpa? Yo, no.

Lo llevaste de la mano a conocer a los vecinos. ¡Mira! ¡Mira! ¡Este es mi papi! He wasn’t your papi—he was the man that contributed to your existence. Still, I was expecting the grandest act of love a girl possibly could from that man she called father, for him to stay. I wish the six-year-old girl knew better.


***

Papi was my uncle who stepped in and loved me.

Papi was reserved for the man who showed up every day, for the one who brought me ice cream and swam in the river with me. Papi es el hombre, who picked me up from the airport on my first day in New York.


Papi was tio Pachecho, who got an apartment with mami in New York, so we had a place to call home. Papi was the man who made sure I had that casita de muñecas—para cuando entrara al apartamento it was the first thing I saw. I was so happy that I finally saw my mami after years living with papito and mamita. I sensed things would be peculiar and unfamiliar, but papi Pacheco always made sure I felt protected.


Papi watched Luz Clarita with me on Saturday morning, and we would play fight until I couldn’t stop laughing de las cosquillas. Every Sunday, he’d go off to visit his wife's brother in Nueva Jersey; he always came back around nine, “Duermanse que ya viene pacheco,'' mami decia. He was adamant about sticking to our bedtime so we would be wide awake and ready for school on Monday morning. That was papi, un hombre de mucho carácter, recto pero siempre preocupado que yo estuviera bien. Hombre firme pero amoroso.

Sophomore year of college, papi took an hour’s drive with me to Nueva, Jersey. I watched him sit in the car and wait for me as I interviewed for my dream internship. “Tu vera que te va ir bien, ya eso es tuyo; te espero aqui,” papi said as I left the silver Toyota Sienna eager to secure my internship for the New York Jets.


***

Papi was also my papito, who made me soup and would fly to New York, so mami had a babysitter on long school breaks. Papito, the man I had lived with until eight years of age; two of those years without mami.


“No te preocupes Petra, esos muchachos estan bien,” I remember he would console mami as I passed him the phone sobbing. It wasn’t that I wasn’t okay, I just missed mami. Pero papito always had a quick fix. “Ten 5 pesos ve a la panadería y comprate un dulcito de leche mi hija.”


Papito was a man of deep faith, un hombre cursillista. He wasn’t perfect and he made sure I knew of that. Siempre me decía que le entregó su vida a Dios porque Dios lo había perdonado por las cosas que él no hizo bien en un pasado. Y es que bueno, mi papito tenía tendencia de ese “Padre Dominicano” con sus once hijos. He had 10 kids with my grandma and one outside the marriage; you see, not so perfect.


Pero por esas imperfecciones es que lo amé toda mi vida. Porque mi papito nunca quiso ser un hombre distinto al que era. Aceptando sus errores él estuvo presente de la manera que su carácter y personalidad lo dejaba ser. Papi was papito being here for Halloween to trick-or-treat around the neighborhood. Papi was papito, saving all his change and handing it to me before leaving for DR. “Ten mi hija tres dólares y veinte y tres centavo pa un helado.”


***

And that's the thing, though, what my sperm donor got wrong all these years. He thought I expected perfection when all I yearned for was his presence.


El dia de mis quince, mami threw me the biggest party in the town. We rented an exquisite brand-new venue. I had a big corte, four dresses, food, drinks, and a live tipico band. What more could I have possibly wanted from that night?


Lo quería a él.


Espere to get off the bus until the last possible moment. A year before, on one of his random visits upstate, I had told “papi” I wanted him to make the trip to Republica Dominicana that summer. Pero como siempre, mi añorado y tan sonado papi no llegó.

Esa noche bailé el vals con mi papito. Uno, dos, tres, como una mariposa fluyendo en los brazos del hombre que siempre ha estado. Creo que en ese momento fue que más dolor me causó la ausencia del hombre que dice ser mi padre.


Y es que mi niña, todavía a los 15 años esperabas que mágicamente cambiara? Ese corazón tuyo siempre tan genuino y ciego de la realidad.


***

Me acuerdo el día que se murió mi papito, ese día sentí que mi corazón me lo sacaron de por dentro—lo tiraron al océano y hasta este día no logró rescatarlo. Y es que con mi papito se fue el amor más genuino que he conocido.


My sperm donor never showed up, again. Esperé por meses que él llegara a mi casa a darme un abrazo porque el sabía que yo había perdido al hombre más importante de mi vida. Y es que en las palabras de mi difunta abuela, “QUE MIERDA,” pensé. Ni porqué se murió el hombre que había asumido sus responsabilidades tuvo la decencia de llegar y darme un abrazo, o darle el respeto que él se merecía.


Mi papito me amó hasta sus últimos días. Y es que aunque el corazón mio permanezca en el océano extraviado mi papito reside en mi alma día tras día.


Ción papi se lo digo al hombre que no es mi padre por criarme pero por quererme.

***

At 27, I’m painfully accepting that the papi I thought I needed was irrelevant. But how lucky was I, to love and be loved by the papi I’ve always had?


Ción Papi— “Dios te bendiga mi hija,” bendiciones de mi tío y mi papito, que si son mis padres.

My papi no solo era uno, but rather two men. Dos hombres Dominicanos who chose to love me—one who stepped up to protect his little sister's daughter and the other a father who protected his daughter’s daughter with love and prayers.


Ción Papi sounds more like ción papa, ción tio. Los hombres que sí me bendijeron día tras día con su presencia, su amor, y su protección.


A los 27 años mi niña aprende a entender que a veces no vemos lo que tenemos por seguir buscando lo que creemos querer. Mira a tu alrededor mi niña, ¡qué bendecida eres! No tienes un papi, ¡tienes dos!

 

Pamela Maria Rodriguez is a Dominican born writer. When she’s not working, she is spending time with family, traveling, or writing in her collection of notebooks. She leads a life with love and kindness, striving to reach at least one person a day through her daily cafecitoconpam post on Instagram. Pamela is currently working on her first collection of essays and poems where she reminds readers to Aceptar: elproceso de dejarir la idea de lo que creesquerer.

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