It may seem a bit strange to see this article on the topic of fathers in March. We usually reserve special tributes to fathers on a day once a year in June. I decided to break with tradition and in this case, I’m taking it personally. While this will be distributed later in the week, I am writing it on the 26th anniversary of my Dad’s death. I miss him and each year at this time I remember why.
My Dad’s name, Ezequiel Jaramillo, never appeared in the headlines. He was not a famous author, poet, actor, or politician. He never owned or managed a company. He was not somebody’s boss (except mine). However, he was a hardworking man who faced the trials of systematic oppression and marginalization. He worked on the farm most of his life, toiling on land that he could never hope to own. He was paid a menial weekly wage on which he and Mom raised a family of four children. They were proud of their Hispanic heritage, had strong spirits, and deep faith while setting their sights for a better tomorrow. I wonder what Daddy would be saying now about the racial, social, and economic divide that is widening every day.
My Dad believed in democratic principles and he instilled that value in his children. He engaged, sometimes with very vigorous conviction, in the political dialogue and debate. In those days, Election Day was a holiday in Colorado, so my parents spent the day discussing the candidates and issues with friends and family before going to the polls. Dad and Mom did not always agree, but both firmly believed that the ballot box was private and that their vote counted. He would be disturbed to hear that there are places in this nation where votes still get “lost.”
Dad and Mom were leaders in local organizing efforts for equal, quality public education for all children, regardless of their racial, ethnic, or economic background. Maybe Dad felt so strongly about it because his own schooling was cut short by the funding crisis during the great depression that caused his poor, rural school to close. (He went back and graduated at the age of 21). But, I think the reason goes much deeper than that. I believe my parents realized that they would have to work twice as hard to ensure that their own children and all children had equal opportunities. I am convinced that they would be distressed about the dismantling of our public education system in favor of privatized opportunities reserved for those who can afford it.
On days like today, I worry about dads who do not or cannot know their children for any variety of reasons. On days like today, I celebrate dads who take their job of parenting seriously. On days like today, I am reminded about how important dads, uncles, grandpas, step-dads are to the various compositions of our families. On days like today, I’m grateful for father figures who have taken on this role when there is a void.
Ezequiel Jaramillo believed that his voice and influence mattered and it did. He was a patriotic contributor to society, which is what inspires me. He believed in the common good and so do I. I miss him every day and I remember why.
The United Church of Christ has more than 5,277 churches throughout the United States. Rooted in the Christian traditions of congregational governance and covenantal relationships, each UCC setting speaks only for itself and not on behalf of every UCC congregation. UCC members and churches are free to differ on important social issues, even as the UCC remains principally committed to unity in the midst of our diversity.