The day my father came to New York …

About two months ago, I said goodbye to my mom at the airport. She came to NYC to spend ten days with me and we enjoyed every single second. It was not easy to say goodbye. And it wasn’t easy for her. In the midst of tears that we could not control, she made me a promise: “I will do everything to come back in October and bring your father”. I put this idea on her mind.  After this trip, she would have three months of paid leave (she is a teacher)  and I said that it would be fair for her to take all this time to make another trip and, why not, meet with me and my sister in NYC. My sister, who also lives abroad, in Paris, had a scheduled trip to visit me in October and our family had not been all together since 2014. And since I was selling such an idea, I took the opportunity to try, once again, to convince my father to travel as well.

Now, let’s insert a parenthesis here and explain why I used the verb “convince” in the same sentence that includes the words New York and travel. After all, who needs to be convinced to travel to New York? It is New York, one of the most famous cities in the world, the dream city of so many people – including my father. New York, the city that needs no introduction. New York, the city that makes thousands of people sigh. You don’t need tons of reasons to visit this place, right?  Well, I could list dozens of reasons to visit New York, and, in my father’s case, there is a plus: this is the home of one of his daughters. However, it is not easy to uproot a tree that is super rooted, right? It requires dedication, work, and patience. But, most importantly: you can give it up. And let’s add something here: my father had never traveled in a plane.

Since I came to live in New York, I started to dream about the visitors I would have, the friends I would host, and, of course, having my family here. I think it’s because I’m a Cancerian and Cancerians dream a lot, after all, if I took my family’s history into account, my hopes should be zero. Before I moved to NYC, I’ve lived for seven years in a town less than two hours from my parents and there was never a visit from them for us to spend some time together. It was always more comfortable and convenient for them that I went to visit them. And don’t get it wrong, they are attentive, caring, great parents, who always received me in the greatest red carpet style. But my father has always been rooted. I’ve never asked him, but I’m sure that when we moved to New York he probably thought that our journey here would be quick and that we would soon return to Brazil. As you can see, almost 6 years have passed and, obviously, he was wrong. There were many invitations. The last time I was there, I did a long lecture to convince him to travel. I thought he was convinced. But it didn’t change anything.  When we asked when he would come to NYC,  the answer was the same: “one day”; or “let’s see”. Honestly, my hopes were running out.

However, after my mom’s last trip, we’ve decided to take a drastic step. It would probably be the last attempt. We bought the flight ticket and gifted him on Father’s Day (which is in August in Brazil). I confess: I was afraid of his reaction. But, to our delight, his smile did not hide the happiness of the surprise. In less than five minutes, he has already listed the attractions he wanted to visit here. As a bonus, we would still surprise my sister, since we decided not to tell her about their trip.

I confess: during the two months before the trip, my anxiety was not only for the surprise that we would do for my sister but also to see my father’s reactions when he’d got here. I was counting the days and hours to show him every little corner of this city, to take him to try the most diverse flavors, to show my home, my neighborhood, to talk about my life. From the first to the last day, it was very special to watch his reactions when he saw the Empire State for the first time, to see his eyes enchanted by the lights of Times Square, to see his satisfaction in tasting the food at the restaurants I chose because I knew that he would like. Every time I watched his bright eyes, every time I saw him taking his phone out of his pocket to take a photo or record a video, every time he asked my sister for a photo brought me so much emotion that I can’t even explain. “New York got closer” – he said, back in the first days of the trip. The barrier had been broken. And how good it was to hear that!

What I’ve thought about a lot during those days were those cliché quotes I heard when I was very young. “It is better to give than to receive” or “It is better to gift someone than getting a gift from someone”. I did not understand these conceptions at that time. Today, with the maturity I have acquired and everything I have lived so far, I can say with all certainty that I understand. And yes, I agree. My dad thinks he got a gift on Father’s Day – but he has no idea of the gift he gave me. For several moments, I looked at him with my mother and did not believe what my eyes saw. I think, deep down, I wished it so much it but, indeed, I’ve never believed that this could happen. I’m glad we didn’t give up. And it is a fact: making those we love happy brings so much joy!

I’ve decided to share these thoughts because during this trip I received several messages and read several comments from people like me, who live abroad or far away from their families and would love to have them visiting as well. And I really hope they can, one day, feel what I felt. And if you are reading it, you are one of those people with roots like my dad, even at the risk of being cliché, I say: don’t wait too much. Don’t wait for the perfect opportunity, don’t wait for time to pass, don’t make excuses. We think we have control over things, but the truth is one: we don’t have it! We have this life only! Take the bus, drive the car, buy the train ticket, plane ticket. Go visit that person who lives two hours driving or ten hours flying. I’m sure it will be worth it. And you have no idea how you are going to make that person happy.

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