Wednesday, June 10, 2009

To my Pops

Yesterday was the 13th anniversary of my fathers death. He died far too young at the age of 43. 

I was barely 19 when he passed away suddenly from a series of brain aneurisms one weekend and because of stupid choices I made I wasn't at the hospital. Instead of being by his bedside, I was off partying with my friends in Palm Springs. 

I still remember stumbling back home to my grandparents house and passing out drunk only to have them wake me a short time later to tell me my father had suffered another aneurism and was brain dead. It was a sobering experience to say the least.

It has taken me a long time to forgive myself for not being there and it was a long spiral down along the way. Today I realize I can't change the past but I can change the future and honor him for the man he was.

My father, Edward James Tejeda, was an amazing man. At 6'3" he could pick me up, hold me upside down with one hand and tickle me with the other - even when I was 18 years old and pushing 5'8" tall. He loved the Beatles, the band and the car (I know they're spelled differently), he was a man of nature and introduced me to snow. 

My dad taught me how to play connect 4, collect eggs from chickens and gave me a lop eared bunny on Easter. He got such a kick out of hiding Easter eggs. My step mom used to tell me he would laugh and cackle about how my brother and I would never find them. 

My father could take apart and build anything. He was an industrial plumber. I used to watch for hours as he would go over blue prints on the kitchen table with his long hair spilling over his shoulders. My father always had long hair - he used to let me brush it and pull it back into a low ponytail. 

As I got older we would sit on the porch at night and talk, looking out into the desert. He helped me skin my first snake, took me fishing for catfish in the canals and even took me on a hike.

The best part were his hugs. I miss his hugs. I remember just reaching my arms around as far as they would go and putting my head on his chest. He always smelled a little like motor oil and cigarettes (he was a smoker). That combination still brings back warm memories whenever I meet someone who smells that way.

His death came at a very dark time in my life and I'm ashamed to say that I wasn't sober through his funeral. I couldn't cope with the guilt, shame and loss so I checked out. In fact I don't even really remember it. 

I had the chance recently to view the video of his funeral for the first time through sober eyes over memorial day. It was surreal, to say the least, to see myself in the video. But I also got to see all the wonderful people who were there to support my family and remember my father.

My father was a good man with a lot of friends. He wasn't a perfect man by any means. None of us are. But when I think back on all the memories I have of him, I am flooded with gratitude that for a short while I got to be daddy's little girl.

Edward James Tejeda
1-29-53 ~ 6-9-96


  1. Natalie, What a beautiful tribute to your dad! I have always felt priveleged to have known him! It was kind of strange to have cousins so much older than me but he and Toni Marie were always kind to me! Thank you for reminding me of a wonderful man! You truly are blessed to have been that daddy's little girl!

  2. Very nice Natalie; your Dad loved you so very much, and was always very proud of you.
    I miss him too; he was my only sibling, and a good friend to me. He was always there for me when I needed that unconditional love he always gave me.
    You share many of his personality traits. It is with you that he lives on.
    I love you,