This weekend my dad would have turned 52 years old. When I stop and think about that, and the fact that 13 birthdays have passed since we celebrated his 39th – I honestly can’t believe it. I truly can’t believe that he has almost been gone for as long as I had him in my life.
I was picking up some chicken at Costco a few weeks ago and I noticed one of his friends in the bread section. I literally put down my chicken, left my cart and walked toward him completely dumbfounded. This was someone I used to see on a regular basis but it had literally been more than 10 years since I last saw him. His hair was completely grey. He looked much older but really happy. I’m a little embarrassed to admit this, but I followed him throughout the store just staring for quite awhile. I think what captivated me and what was running through my mind were thoughts of my dad. Would he look like his friend? He was getting a little grey but would his hair be completely grey by now? What would he be doing today? Would he have been here at Costco with me? I know it may sound silly, but those are the things that came to mind in that moment.
I am completely aware of the number of years that have passed since he left us. This is something I think about every single day. The crazy thing is that up to that day at Costco, I had never really thought about how much we’ve all changed during these past 13 years. I had also never thought about what he would look like today. You see, for me my dad will forever be 39 years old. I don’t know if he would have turned grey in his 40’s, or if he would have had wrinkles by 52. I don’t know if he would have lost his hair or what he would have looked like as a grandpa, and while I know that this may sound like me feeling sorry for myself – I’m really not. I am thankful for the 17 years I did have with him, as short as it may have been.
Sometimes I get scared because I feel like I’m forgetting things about him. Missy, Dom or my mom will say stuff sometimes and I’ll think – my God, I totally forgot about that. It scares me because I can’t forget these things. My stories are going to be my babies only connection to their Grandpa Rudy. In thinking about this, I decided it was important that I take note of some of my memories. So here are a few things (in no particular order) about my pop.
Happy 52nd birthday Dad ~
1. He was a good dancer who LOVED music.
2. He could draw a perfect looking yucca freehand. I think this was his favorite plant because he drew yuccas on all his drafts of homes.
3. He loved his family more than he loved himself.
4. He collected loose change and would often give it to us – as long as we agreed to roll it.
5. Next to construction, landscaping was his passion. He had such a green thumb and could bring anything back to life.
6. He had such an appreciation for vintage things and rarely purchased anything new. His home was filled with amazing stuff he either discovered at a garage sale or bartered for with someone.
7. He loved Led Zeppelin and Pink Floyd.
8. Every summer, he grew beautiful honey suckle all over the yard.
9. He was a very successful business owner.
10. He was a great cook. I try to following in his footsteps but he never wrote his recipes down and I doubt I’ll ever be as good as him.
11. He always gave food and money to the homeless.
12. He had the softest forehead. I would kiss it all the time.
13. Green chile was something he had with almost every meal. He loved it HOT and always looked like he was in pain while eating it… Ha!
14. It was so important to him that my sis and I grew to be confident women. He told us we were beautiful and that he loved us every day.
15. His favorite candy was Jelly Beans.
16. He rarely locked his doors or windows. Everyone knew it was okay to knock twice and come on in.
17. He had a great head of hair. Perfectly fluffed!
18. Home Depot is a place my dad took us almost every weekend. To this day the sounds, the smells and the people at HD remind me of him. I think that’s why I spend so much time and money there…
19. He loved to record home videos and often played the role of a Channel 7 New reporter.
20. My dad was a big guy who always let his kids jump and pull and climb all over him. We would follow him all over the place – yet he never got sick of us.
21. He really valued his friendships.
22. We all know – he made a ridiculously delicious breakfast.
23. His favorite place to relax was at the lake or in the mountains camping.
24. He loved cinnamon suckers!
25. He had more friends than anyone I know. He could make friends with a tree.
26. When I was in Elementary School we would write stories together. I wish I could find that notebook.
27. He hired workers that no one else would because he believed in giving people a chance.
28. He snored louder than anyone I’ve ever met. To this day, my mom can’t sleep unless the TV is on full blast!
29. He gave me cards for everything…first day of school, cheerleading competitions, holidays, etc. and he would write a novel in each one! I have all of them and read them often.
30. He ate sunflower seeds all the time.
31. He had a perfect tan 365 days a year!
32. He loved the Blues Brothers – thought they were hilarious!
33. Following in my grandpa’s footsteps, he accidently cut one of his fingers off at work….Dom better watch out! Just sayin…
34. He only listened to music at ridiculously high volumes.
35. When I was younger my little cousin called him auntie Rudy for some reason. Whenever someone tried to correct him my dad would say – no, no, let him called me whatever he wants… lol!
36. He was very emotional and cried whenever he felt the needed to. I remember watching the Titanic with him…when she had to say goodbye to Jack, he cried more than me.
37. He seldom called me by my first name. It was usually Kristianna or Kristianna banana.
38. I wasn’t allowed to put him on hold. If I did, he hung up and I was grounded…I didn’t understand this as a kid but I’m pretty sure I’m going to expect the same from my kids.
39. He would make up little songs and sing them to us all the time…’little rubber ducks…small pick-up trucks…grapes on the vine and wine’…
40. Every Valentine’s Day he would buy roses for not only my mom, but me and missy too!
41. He didn’t really laugh out loud – it was more of a giggle.
42. He was a really great uncle who loved his nieces and nephews.
43. When listening to music in the Truck he didn’t hold anything back! He would play a full-out drum set on his steering wheel regardless of who was watching!
44. He was an Orozco through and through. Because I look so much like him I get asked by strangers all the time – “are you related to Rudy or Germaine Orozco”?
45. He loved the movie Wedding Singer. We watched it together about 20 times.
46. He was the ultimate Dallas Cowboys Fan (and the Celtics).
47. He always had a project he was working on and could never just sit. Even on weekends he would wake up the house yelling “time to get up – you’re wasting the day”!
48. When I was little he used to sing Whitney Houston songs with me.
49. He always stopped at the side of the road to buy pinons.
50. He loved the outdoors.
51. He had very unique hands that were worn and full of character. When I close my eyes I can see them like it was just yesterday.
52. There are so many things that remind me of him every day. The sound of sprinklers, the smell of pine wood, Summer and Spring, painted ceramic tile, the North Valley, beautifully carved vigas, the smell of a camp fire, Ford trucks, warm evenings, the Rio Grande, German Shepherds, roses, adobe homes, the lake, I could go on and on…
I know how much we all loved him and that we all hold so many stories in our hearts. I would love to hear any memories you all may have.
Love you dad.