Today would have been my dad’s 93rd birthday. Praxedis Sotelo Zuniga was born in Carlsbad, New Mexico on October 25, 1922. He died on June 1, 2001. I remember it was a Friday. He was 78 years old.
This time a year, I like to take a Virgen de Guadalupe candle to the memorial garden where his ashes are interned and replace the one from the previous year. I just returned from a trip to visit my sister Kanista in North Carolina last night, so I haven’t had a chance to buy one and go by the gardens in Alabaster. I hope to do this over the weekend.
Meanwhile…dad has been making his presence known today! Kanista and I were talking about things like this yesterday. You know…dreams, things that happen that appear to be a coincidence…being open to these types of happenings or just being observant can show you so much and also be comforting in many ways. Kanista and I spent five days together and we had so many instances happen to us that we were recalling them all and laughing about them on our way to the airport yesterday. At the same time, we were marveling and delighting in how great it made us feel and the fact that we were experiencing these happenings together!
So the marvel continues today as I was heading home after work. I was thinking about dad and also of the traditional Mexican birthday song called “Las Mañanitas.” I decided to look up the lyrics to make sure I had them right. It’s been awhile since I had sung it, after all! Then I got the urge to hear the song along with some mariachi music, so I pulled up a YouTube video of Vicente Fernandez singing it. Vincente is a Mexican ranchera singer and for further coincidence…he was born on February 17th which is also MY birth date! Anyway, the song was sung to a series of photos put together in a slideshow. The first slide that popped up was this one…
Remember, my dad’s name is Praxedis! I sat in disbelief at first, but then I started to smile. “Ok, dad! Happy birthday!” – I said out loud. Then I decided to sing along to the video to serenade my father. Next, I decided to run by my favorite thrift store and browse through quickly. As I hurriedly ran through the rack with all the coats, I spotted a green shirt hanging among the coats that was clearly out-of-place. Or, was it there to get my attention? It had the Notre Dame initials on the front – very small letters – and it was a man’s shirt in the women’s section. Notre Dame was my dad’s favorite school and football team. Now, we live in the state of Alabama where you are either “for” Alabama or Auburn. To mention Notre Dame here is taking your life into your hands!!! And finding a shirt with these initials…what were the odds? Dad was a Notre Dame fan his whole life. I still have his ND sweatshirt and blanket…
Of course, now I was laughing! “I hear you, dad! Happy birthday and I’ll raise a glass of wine for you tonight when I get home…because I don’t like Schlitz beer!” Schlitz was his choice of beer, by the way.
Happy birthday, dad! I feel certain the entire Zuniga clan is celebrating you today in heaven!
Con mucho cariño….Teresa