Happy Father’s Day to all the Dads out there and just like on Mother’s Day I send a special prayer to all of you who no longer have your Father. I have several friends this year also spending this day without their Father on Father’s Day for the first time….I cannot even imagine life without the one person on earth who is probably my best friend and mentor. I love you Dad and all you have done for me and our family. I know it wasn’t easy but you have two sons who have done pretty well!
My Dad is 81 years old and for those of you who have met or known “Donald” as we call him – he is the real “Donald” by the way – he is one of the nicest guys out there always with a smile on his face and ready for a good time! I love just hanging out with him and watching a Bronco game or the US Open…. You know, guy stuff!
Donald was born in Durango, Colorado in 1935 to the parents of Bernie and Rose Candelaria. He is the second oldest of six children – two boys and four girls – all still alive. Grampa Bernie worked for the Denver & Rio Grande Railroad and was the machinist for the steam locomotives that still run from Durango to Silverton today. My father went to Durango High School, same school I graduated from, and then onto the US Army where he proudly served our country following World War II.
While serving in Germany he met my Mom, Karin, who was born in East Germany and fled the oncoming Russians and ended up as a refugee in Mannheim, Germany. There must have been some spark there as my father stayed in touch after her returned to the States through hand written letters that my mom would have to translate to German. My Mom took an Au Pair position in Calgary, Canada all the while the two kept exchanging their letters.
Well Dad must have been persistent and convincing and coaxed my Mom to take a Greyhound bus from Calgary, Canada down to Durango, Colorado. Ok this was in 1959 so you can imagine how the roads and stops were along the way back then and imagine my 19 year old Mom from Germany on a bus traveling through Idaho, Utah and finally to SW Colorado – in the middle of nowhere in the summer of 59!
My Grandmother and father’s sisters met her at the bus station when she arrived and my mom shared space with my Dad’s sisters while she visited. As it turned out , one of my father’s sisters was getting married during the stay and again with my Dad’s persuasion he popped the question and convinced my Mom to make it a double wedding. The rest is history – you wouldn’t be reading this blog right now had he not convinced her!
The two moved to Denver and I showed up a year later in October of 1960! My father got a job with the Denver & Rio Grande Railroad in Denver and of course became a big Denver Bronco fan and an original season ticket holder. We lived in Denver for 14 years whereupon my grandfather in Durango was retiring so my father decided to move the troops back to his hometown and take over my grandfather’s position as the head machinist on the steam trains and so we all loaded the trucks and moved to Durango!
We all loved living there and we all return often. I graduated from Durango High School in 1978 and went on the the University of Colorado for a year and then transferred to Arizona State University in 1979 and have been here ever since. I have so many friends still from there that I am very close with – many that live here in Phoenix and Scottsdale. The Denver and Rio Grande sold the Durango train to a private company and so to maintain his retirement, my father and Mom moved back to Denver in 1980 where they lived and retired until 2014 whereupon they moved here to Arizona to be closer to me and two of Dad’s sisters who live in Tucson and my Mom from Germany has a sister that lives in Mesa. I love the twist and turns life brings our way!
Anyway, it is so wonderful to have this time with my father! We have had some great times together including in 2001 going to Game 1 of the Diamondback-Yankee World Series together and celebrating his 80th birthday in style with a day at the Spa!
So that’s the story. Dad didn’t teach me or mentor me to be an artist or architect….no my Dad is just like the Dad in the TV series “The Wonder Years” – in fact that was virtually my family and life growing up in the 60’s and 70’s. My dad could fix anything –I’m the opposite…. I’m useless with any kind of power tool with the exception of an electric eraser or a cell phone. But what Dad did instill in me was hard work and that perseverance that I spoke about earlier in the blog. You see my Dad, despite never being rich or wealthy, just kept going! Dad, hopefully, you now see that you are rich and wealthy! You have two sons who love the hell out of you and we would be nowhere close to where we are without your inspiration, example and love.
I wish you and all the Dad’s out there a super Father’s Day!