I’m 23 years old. Tonight, my brother, my dad and I went to dinner. Tonight, for the first time ever, I paid for our dinner – but more specifically, for my dad’s food.
This is a HUGE deal because:
1. My dad is a Holocaust child. His family was well off when he was born, but because they were Jewish, they were kicked out of Egypt and not allowed to take anything other than what they were wearing (and two diamonds my grandma swallowed to help them later on). After moving through countries a few times, they finally settled down in Venezuela and were taking off economically. My grandfather passed away from a heart attack when my dad was 13. My grandma did some intense budgeting with the money they had in savings, and made it last 4 years until my dad and his 2 brothers were out of high school and could get jobs. My dad worked his tail off his entire life, and I myself saw his struggle to succeed. Money is a huge deal to him [insert Jewish pun about money here], and his biggest mission in his life was that none of his 6 children would have to endure the economic hardships he went through.
2. My mom grew up in Colombia foster child style, living with whatever relatives would take her and my uncle in, while my grandma went off to find money in Venezuela. At one point in her life she had 3 or 4 jobs. She also worked day and night with my dad to make sure my siblings and I would have a better life and better opportunities than she did.
3. We moved to the US, and due to documentation issues, I was not allowed to work until I was a Sophomore in college. By that time, I had decided I was going to get a good enough resume with my involvement, so that when job-hunting came around, I could have some sort of experience. My parents both were all for me studying and being involved, and never pushed me to work. I didn’t get a “job” until Senior year, and that didn’t even count… I was unemployed for 6 months after graduating until I got my current job, last June. It’s super official in a huge global company, and I am so happy – and getting paid in a legitimate and timely manner for the first time in my life.
4. My dad and I are very alike – we don’t like bothering anyone, people doing us favors, or others paying for our stuff. We’d rather pay for 3 football teams to be fed before letting others pay for us. He wouldn’t even let me pay last year on FATHER’S DAY!
I spent all day coming up with a plan to pay. I even thought of talking to the waitress before our meal so she would have my credit card on hand when the time came to pay so that my dad wouldn’t have a chance to reject my request. It didn’t work out like I wanted, and by the time the check came, my “plan A” was our the door. So I grabbed my card, and had to wrestle my dad for about 5 minutes until he finally give in and let me pay – not without a look of suffering in his eyes and a knot in his throat.
I just got home and he called me to say thank you, and that even though he felt bad for letting me spend money on him, it made him so proud to see me so settled and so grown up.
Tonight, I paid for my dad’s food for the first time. Even though I’m sure this is not going to become a standard for us, it felt freaking good. Still does. Can’t wait until this father’s day! 🙂