I got a card in the mail from his dentist yesterday that said, "Happy Birthday Manuel! We hope it's the best birthday ever!".... obviously, they hadn't heard he had passed away before mailing it. At first I was sad, until Mike said.. "He IS having the BEST BIRTHDAY EVER!" -- and just like in all things, my husband was right. :-)
I wrote a few words about my Dad that I had Bro. Tom read at Dad's funeral. Several have asked me for a copy of that letter. After much thought, I decided to publish it today... on his birthday.
So HAPPY BIRTHDAY DAD! I hope you get lots of cake and ice cream.....with extra ice cream. :-)
I was incredibly blessed to have been raised by Manuel Ramirez. Being able to call him “My Dad” was such a gift. I don’t remember him ever raising his voice to me or being cross with me. Yes, he would correct me when I was doing wrong, but never in a harsh or demeaning way. It was always in the gentlest of ways…. and his way with me always made me want to do the “right” thing, just so I could make him proud.
He wasn’t a tall man, (5’ 7” on a good day) - but I always looked up to him. He got up every day and dressed up and showed up with a smile on his face. He was a teacher. A great teacher. I’ve had so many of his students reach out to me during the last few years and ask me about him. They always said, “Dr. Ramirez was my favorite teacher… he didn’t just teach us Spanish. He taught us about life.”
Well, he certainly was teaching ME until his last breath. Although his frail body was failing him and it must’ve been such an effort just to get out of bed every morning, his true spirit of kindness, consideration and dignity never waned. One of his caregivers recently told me, “Dr. Ramirez is the sweetest man I’ve ever worked for. He never fails to tell me “thank you” no matter how small a task i do for him. And he always says, “please” when asking me to do something for him. I just adore him!” Several days later, I heard the nurse at St. Thomas hospital as she instructed the ambulance drivers, “Be extra careful with him. He is a gentle and sweet, sweet man!” Then I heard those same ambulance drivers telling the nurses at hospice as they dropped him off, “He’s such a sweet little guy.” Then I over heard the nurses arguing in the hall over who was going to “get” his room because they all loved him and wanted to take care of him. Yes, right until the end, he continued to make me so proud to be his daughter.
He was a dedicated husband, father and grandfather. His first priority was always taking care of my Mom, me, and my boys. And he did that until his last breath. He was my rock. My protector. Oh, how I loved my Father!! But the greatest thing that he did for me, was to teach me to love our Heavenly Father. He taught me to believe in our Lord Jesus Christ, and to find my identity as a daughter of The King, and not from anything this earth.
My Father had many accomplishments during his career. Many of which I never even knew about until the last few days, after he had passed. We were finding newspaper clippings, letters, plaques, pins, ribbons etc…. all stored away in drawers. One of the things my husband noticed was that every one of Dad’s achievements was service based. He was never a competitive man. He would never seek to “out-do” anyone else. Instead, he chose to encourage others to shine their brightest.
He never was a bragger. He was a quiet man, yet when he spoke, people listened. He was obviously a smart man, (getting his PhD couldn’t have been easy!)… but he was also wise. Wise enough to know that all those accomplishments, although wonderful, were not what he found HIS identity in. He found it in being a child of God. A man of God. A dedicated disciple of Jesus.
So that is how I know, that when his soul flew back up to heaven, he was greeted with these words:
“Well done my good and faithful servant… enter into the joy of the Lord”
I will be forever grateful for the love, guidance and wisdom that my Father passed on to me. “You look like your Father” was an observance that My Dad and I would both get a giggle out of through the years, since being an adopted child, there was no way I could possibly truly favor him genetically. But if my actions can make me “look” like my Father… if my kindness towards others can make me “look” like my Father… if my faith can make me “look” like my Father… then that will be the biggest compliment I can ever have.
So Dad, thanks for being an amazing example to me about how to love people and love God.
I look forward to the day I see you and Mom again, but until then… I’ll do my best to “look” like you.
All my love,