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Dios, Dimele a Papi

by La Puchi


¾ “¡Ción Papi! Soy yo, tu hija chiquita, La Puchi”

Papi, te extrañamos mucho y nos haces mucha falta. Hoy es el día de las madres dominicanas.

¾ ¡Ción Mami! A ti también te queremos mucho.

Papi, la última vez que estuvimos juntos en el hospital, no pude decirte todas las cosas que guardaba en mi corazón. Estaba bien triste y deprimida porque mami ya no estaba y mi carrera como maestra estaba en riesgo porque no podía pasar el fucking examen de matemática. También tenía tanto stress y ansiedad, pensando, por primera vez, en mi vida como madre soltera. Ace y yo estábamos en proceso de separación, y yo a punto de perder a mi amigo, mi apoyo, mi fuerza, mi padre, mi viejo. El día de hoy puedo perdonarme a mí misma por estar estudiando para el examen de matemática, para así poder tener mi trabajo fijo como maestra. Hoy quiero decirte todo lo que no pude decirte aquel día solo por querer mostrarle al mundo que soy maestra. ¡Yo soy maestra! Soy una educadora de niños especiales. Ese es mi don, mi regalo de Dios. No necesito un examen de matemática para eso.

Papi, quiero darte las gracias por ser el mejor padre dominicano. Fuiste un hombre ejemplar, nacido el 3 de marzo de 1939, en Valverde Mao, República Dominicana. Tu familia, la familia Espinal Taveras, es una familia honrada y trabajadora. Tu mamá Anarita y tu papá Pancho eran parte de su pueblo. Mi abuela Anarita era curandera. Usaba plantas naturales para sanar a los enfermos. Nunca cobro dinero por sanar y salvarle la vida a muchos; lo hacía por amor a Jesús. Por Dios.

Papi, recuerdo tus historias de cuando eras niño. Nos contabas que eran una familia pobre. De niño, tenías que trabajar descalzo vendiendo frutas, chicles, caña, limoncillos y cigarrillos, y a veces hasta limpiabas zapatos. No pudiste ir a la escuela por tener que ayudar a mantener a tu familia de 12 hermanos y hermanas. Trabajaste hasta manejando una patana por toda la República.

Papi, tengo muchas cosas que agradecerte. Gracias por ser el mejor chef de comida dominicana, eres el mejor cocinero del mundo. Tu comida todavía es famosa en República Dominicana y en el Bronx. Gracias por casarte con Mami aunque estabas nervioso por ser pobre. Mami nos contó cuando se conocieron en la avenida Lope de Vega, en Santo Domingo, ella en una bicicleta y tú en un motor.

Tu papi siempre andaba vestido como todo un caballero. ¡Tu papi era un negro fino!- Mami siempre decía.

Papi, gracias por la casa que hiciste para ustedes cuando se casaron. Construiste una casita humilde con tus propias manos, para ti y nuestra Mami. La casa no tenía techo ni electricidad. Cuando llovía, el agua caía adentro de la casa, pero fue nuestro hogar. Construiste hasta una letrina y todo, afuera, atrás, en el patio. No eras rico en dinero, pero sí rico en ser un hombre trabajador y de gran corazón. Eras rico de nobleza y de bondad, y eso también te lo agradezco. Gracias por trabajar tan honrada y duramente para poder llegar a los Estados Unidos.

Papi, ¡you should know English now in heaven! Thank you for always working so hard at the Farberware factory and for saving money to take care of your parents, siblings, Mami, us and yourself. You worked hard every day, never being late or calling out sick. You were the first one to arrive and the last one to leave work. Thank you for saving your boss from getting fired and the factory from shutting down. You saved the factory, Papi! Your boss got all the credit and the raise. But he had his position because you, because, unfortunately, you didn’t go to school and you didn’t speak English. But you saved them, Papi! I know you could have owned your own company one day. But instead, you did your very best. Thank you for waking up every day at 4 in the morning and for coming back at 7 in the evening, gone working all day with your bare hands at the factory. You went to work sick with arthritis and gout, but you were able to put all three of your children through private Catholic school. Thank you for being our hero and an exemplary father figure. Thank you for my education at Aquina’s High School. I hope and pray that receiving my PhD at New York University will compensate you and show you how grateful I am to you.

You always took care of your tribe in Dominican Republic and in the Bronx, no matter what. Once you and mommy got visas to the United States, you were able to become a true resident of the Bronx. Thank you so much for choosing the Bronx! I also want to thank you for bringing Mami’s family to the United States instead of yours. I understand your reasons. And thank you for never learning English because I wouldn’t have learned Spanish and all the beautiful facts and stories I know about our Dominican culture and traditions if it wasn’t for you. And don’t let me forget, Papi, thank you for cooking the best Dominican food EVER!

Papi, thank you for showing me your love of Cadillacs and plaid flannel shirts. Thank you for loving pigeon feathers and Heinekens, for being my first dance partner and for giving me the life of a fairytale Dominican princess. You gave your family and your children everything we needed and deserved in the life you built for us. You chose 1860 Billingsley Terrace in the Bronx as my birthplace and Hip Hop Boulevard as our community, and for that I thank you, too. And for how you helped everyone in the building get factory jobs with you at the Farberware factory. Thank you for being a kind neighbor, but also for never hanging out in front of the building, drinking, playing dominoes and talking about women.

Papi, thank you for setting a family foundation based in faith, hope and love. Thank you and Mami for teaching us how to pray and form a church. We learned that the family that prays the Holy Rosary together, stays together. You also taught us to always share our blessings with others, even when we were struggling ourselves. Everyone loved you and respected you! You were friendly, kind and generous, and you also had a great sense of humor. Thank you for sharing your love for the music of Fernando Villalona and Sergio Vargas, and for all the dope ass parties we threw at the building! We reigned supreme with the best Dominican parties on the block, hands down. ¡Hasta la 15 de la mañana!

Papi, tomorrow is the 5-year anniversary of your transition to heaven. I can’t believe it’s been 5 years already, May 30, 2022. I know you are looking down at us from heaven. Since you’ve been gone, Ace and I reconciled. God mended our marriage, all glory to the Highest! I am no longer teaching; I was diagnosed with Fibromyalgia Chronic Pain Disease. All of your grandchildren and great grandchildren are beautiful, smart and talented. Joselito, Kari and I pray the Rosary every day for you and Mami. Papi because of you I was inspired to work hard just like mi papi! I was the first in the family to obtain my Bachelor’s Degree from Mercy College. I was the first one to obtain my Master’s Degree from Nova Southwestern Univeristy. All because of you, Papi! I am applying for NYU in the Fall of 2022. I released my first single. I just wanna dance and I am acting again!

Papi, thank you for always supporting my dreams and making my wishes come true. Can you believe I am writing for Dominican Writers? Yes, I know you know. I got my strength from you! Faith over fear, right, Papi? I homeschooled Pika for 5th grade this year, best decision I ever made! We started our own online business, La Puchi’s Closet. We are truly blessed and a highly-favored family. Our family is so full of talents and gifts. We all have something special and unique to offer our family tree. Papi, I hope to keep making you proud. I am doing much better today, thanks be to God. I’m taking good care of myself, mentally, emotionally, physically and spiritually. Today health is wealth. We all got Covid twice and survived. Thanks be to God, we all got our two vaccines.

 

La Puchi is a proud Afro Latina and a native of the Bronx, born and raised on Hip Hop BoulevardDominican hasta la tambora! She is 43-year-old retired ESE Elementary School teacher. “Ción Papi” is dedicated to her father, Jose Antonio Espinal Taveras, who died of colon cancer.

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