Actions spoke louder than words when it came to a father’s impact on his familyby Javier Morales on Oct. 17, 2013, under Sports
A perfect father does not exist. What makes the best dad is the one who tries.
My father Hector A. Morales Jr. was not without flaws, but he was there to correct ours.
He did not support us (four sons and one daughter) always with one-on-one conversations. He was not the type who pulled us aside to teach life’s lessons. I never went fishing with him or sat with him at a bar, just the two of us together talking about life, like you see in the movies.
The deepest conversations I had with my father were about how he wanted me to get my Bachelor’s degree or that I must address immediately a sore back by going to the doctor.
He always enforced what my conscious told me. I lost count how many times I told him, “I know dad. I know.” His attempt is what mattered.
What fascinated me about my dad was the way he interacted with people. That’s where I drew most of my pride in him. That’s how I learned right from wrong. He was a kind man, one who fought poverty and worked diligently for civil liberties of less advantaged people on the southside of Tucson.
The irony with my dad is that although he based his life on speaking his mind as a politician and arguing for what he believed, he did not always expound his words of wisdom to us directly. We knew what he was all about without him saying a word to us.
His character came in loud and clear. That’s all I needed to know about his direction in life and how he expected me to handle my life and be a responsible parent.
Excerpt from Hector Morales’ obituary:
“Hector graduated from Tucson High in 1950 and served in the Marines and the Air Force from 1949-50, Company E and 91st Strategic Reconnaissance Squadron, Korean War.
He attended Arizona and worked as a deputy county assessor from 1958-66 where he designed the MVD building on Ajo and designed the official Pima County Seal. He served on the Tucson City Council from 1965-68 where he led the successful effort for Civil Rights ordinances, removed sales tax on food and prescriptions and extended water to the Tohono O’odham and Pascua Yaqui Tribes. He later served as Mo Udall’s campaign manager and served in the Carter Administration as the Executive Assistant for Regional Operations. He served as a congressional lobbyist for Cesar Chavez.
He later served the State of Arizona in the Dept. of Economic Security for ten years and was the Executive Director of El Pueblo Clinic. He served on the Fair Housing Council before moving to the Pima County Health Board where he served until his passing. He was a member of the Lions Club, Elks, and Knights of Columbus. His main focus was on his grandchild, Ian who died rebuilding homes on Mt. Lemmon after the fire and establishing a scholarship in his name and to spread the word about worker safety.”
In the last hours of his life in 2010, my dad was a shell of himself, laying motionless with mostly his eyes closed, but sometimes barely open, on his hospice bed. Cancer spread throughout his body. The morphine they administered to kill the pain kept him unresponsive.
My mom suggested that each of us spend a few minutes alone with him in the hospice room to have our final moments with him. It was an opportunity to have that time alone with him that I missed too many times before. The chances slipped away.
If only I took my dad aside when he was vibrant and told him directly what he meant to me. If only I spoke up before and mentioned to him that I wanted some time alone with him.
Sitting beside him in the hospice room, I grabbed his lifeless hand and told him, “I wish I could be half the man you are dad.”
I leaned over to embrace him. His eyes twitched and I could feel his fingers move slightly as if he tried to grasp my hand. He heard what I had to say. He took those words with him.
If I had the chance to live my life over, I would express myself to my father more about what he means to me and my daughter Mackenzie, his youngest grandchild. Her Tata.
My father would have turned 80 today. I know that if cancer never took hold of his body that age would not be an issue with him. He would be helping somebody somewhere. Until the months leading up to his deteriorating health, my dad served on the Pima County Health Board and was an active member of the Lion’s Club and Knights of Columbus.
Similar to when he was on Earth, our vision of my dad gets us through our days. He steered us in the right direction with his actions more so than his words. Those actions will always be fresh in my mind.
He was not perfect but he certainly tried. We could not have asked for more.
Happy birthday dad.