By Andy Christian Castillo
I would be remised to allow today, father’s day, to pass without writing something about my father.
And, because I didn’t write anything about my mother on mother’s day (I know, I’m a terrible son, and don’t deserve a mother so loving as she is), today — in respects to thoughts being passed on through writing — is about her as well.
In the midst of chaotic news headlines declaring more tragedies, of the breakdown of family values (defined as love, humility, respect and meek faith), of hate, which saturates every facet of human interaction and element of everyday existence, and of pain, shame, and anger, my parents shine as beacons of light and hope; as close to perfect examples of selfless love as any human I have ever met or seen.
In short, through the lives of my mom and dad, I see glimpses of Jesus.
They are the most wonderful parents I could ever dream up, conjure forth or imagine — and, I am both grateful for them and appreciative of them.
Through the years, my dad has always been there — solid, stable, loving, tender. Whenever I have ever needed a rock to return to, after suffering pain or uncertainty, my dad has provided me with a hug and a nonjudgemental shoulder to cry on.
Today, on father’s day, I think back to when my dad would, every Saturday morning before 7 a.m., drive myself, along with a few other brothers, on our paper routes. Even though it was our responsibility to make sure the Saturday paper was delivered on time, he would rouse us out of bed (if we weren’t up already) on his day off, shuffle us out into the old white 15 passenger van, and blast Jeremy Camp as he drove us from house-to-house on our daily routes.
He never complained, even when, after, he drove us to baseball games and then jobs, and then, finally, to college.
My dad is the ultimate example of selflessness.
The memory of my mother that springs into my mind’s eye today, while I’m sitting under a cloudless sky, feeling the breeze whispering over the trees, is tender, compassionate and loving.
I’m five; it’s dark inside a room I share with five other brothers, even darker in the corner which has been allotted to me as space for sleep. My covers are pulled up to my chin, even though it is stiflingly hot in the room.
I cower beneath the comforter for safety.
I’m terrified of the dark — trembling with a fear that has stolen reason from my mind.
A box fan whirs in the window, blowing in hot summer air cooler than the suffocating heat of the house. A brother tosses in the throes of sleep somewhere in the dark. The gears of a truck roar in deceleration as the truck passes by on the interstate, a few blocks away. But these sounds are normal; to me, it is so terrifyingly quiet my mind has run away with itself, to a horrifying place.
I have become lost in the midst of a child’s rampant imagination.
Out of desperation, I roll against the wall, seeking solace and escape in the security of the solid, smooth, and cool surface. Figuratively, I run from the darkness, but cannot escape the monsters of my own creation.
Monsters loom in the night, reaching for me from nowhere in particular, defying logic, and my pitiful escape attempts.
Then, suddenly, the mattress depresses as someone sits down on the bed.
It’s my mother, who heard the sound of my tears above the fan, and the truck, and the tossing brothers.
The sweet sound of her voice cuts into my chaos, and, like a blinding light shown into the darkness, reveals the path out of my imagination.
I don’t know the song she sings, but the words are familiar: “when I am afraid I will trust in You, trust in You, trust in You.”
My fears melt like butter on a hot griddle; smooth like a wrinkled sheet; absorb like water poured onto a towel.
I fall asleep listening to her voice as she rubs my back and tells me that everything will be okay, because God is bigger than my fear.
All these years later, her words and assurance stay with me: God is still bigger; than hate, which drove a man to walk into an Orlando nightclub and murder 49 people in the dark; than fear, which drives America forward on a vengeance path; than anger, which fuels the ongoing chaos in the world.
I look to the example of my parents in these dark days, which seem to be getting darker.
As I celebrate father’s day today, I’d just like to publicly say thanks, mom and dad, for being so loving and wonderful.
Andy Christian Castillo is the Founder of Ver・ism(s). He is a military veteran and student at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, where he studied English. Now, he’s pursuing a graduate degree in creative non fiction from Bay Path University. In his free time, he plays music, writes poetry, gallivants around the world, climbs mountains and runs through the pouring rain.