Washington, D.C. – Thirteen years ago today we lost my dad José Julio Morales to Alzheimer’s disease. Dad, or Papi as I called him, had no money or wealth yet he was and still is the richest man I’ve ever known.
Dad was a consummate journalist, a seasoned political reporter who if alive today, would be appalled by what passes for journalism. He would be outraged by what so many in the media are deliberately doing to his beloved profession purely for the sake of ratings and $$$$. My father was a professional who knew the difference between news & opinions and he NEVER passed one off as the other. Papi was not afraid to call anyone out, especially politicians – he did so in Cuba and continued the practice in his adopted homeland of the United States when we came here as exiles in 1968. He believed this was his life’s mission and battle to fight: to arm people with straight, unfiltered information that would allow them to form their own opinions and make informed decisions. His weapons of choice – a pen and a typewriter; his armor – truth. Dad did not earn boatloads of money doing this, but he did earn the respect and admiration of just about everyone, including his adversaries.
“Many people, especially ignorant people, want to punish you for speaking the truth; for being correct; for being you. Never apologize for being correct or for being years ahead of your time. If you are right and you know it, speak your mind. Even if you a minority of one, the truth is still the truth.” Ghandi. I thought it would be fitting to include this quote as part of this tribute. He lived that credo and followed his true North every day of a long & blessed life. He taught and expected us to do the same; I am indeed my father’s daughter.
Papi enjoyed living life to the fullest and was a man with his priorities straight – family (including extended family) always came first. He handled adversity with dignity & grace and never compromised his principles or sacrificed his family to make or save a buck. He was a man of integrity, substance, honor, and grit. He knew the value of money, but was smart enough to also know money could never replace the power of unconditional love and family. He was a compassionate man who never judged anyone and would be very disappointed if those he loved were to do so; he taught us not to be judgmental. He had an uncanny sense of humor; a delightful personality and a strong sense of community, love of country and more importantly love of God. He lived his life well & was well-loved. He gave of himself when he had nothing material to give and when the end came, that was in fact his greatest gift and legacy.
I miss my Dad terribly, but I know that on October 7, 2001 instead of losing him, I gained a very personal angel – someone to watch over me always. I’m certain he is right beside me, taking care of me the same way he did when he was alive. My father hated sadness and funerals, so tonight instead of tears and mourning, I will raise a glass to celebrate his life and how lucky I am to have had him in my life. Gracias por todo, papi.
Love you dad. Te quiero mucho Papi y te echo de menos cada día más. xoxo