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  • Writer's pictureFrancis Pina

Sometimes I feel... Like A

Parentless child. My father died on April 18th. It's been a little over two months since he passed and while my sleeping habits have improved, I feel like my journey through grief and anxiety has only begun.

I am not at the place where I can write an in-depth reflection about my dad, let alone what it is like to be parentless, I can share the eulogy I wrote for him.

To the memory of my dad Francisco “Frankie” Griffin Pina Jr.

My wife shared some wise words with me that she once read: 

“Joy is the gift of love. Grief is the price of love.” Valarie Kaur. 

Grief, is an individual journey for us all and it’s okay to grieve. It’s okay to cry. As John 11:35 states “Jesus wept” for Lazarus because he was “deeply moved”. It is okay not to be okay.

I was upset with my dad when I was younger. I thought he cared too much for others instead of caring for me. He worked hard to care for family, friends, and customers, leaving little room to create memories of vacations or sporting events with me. I wanted to go to Wrestlemania 14 so bad.

There were times I was resentful toward my dad in middle school, but it wasn’t until I got into high school that I started to observe and witness him as the man he was. 

  • A safe space

  • A consistent supporter

  • A loving man, who told me he was not a people person. I guess he was the people’s person.

  • SIDEBAR: He also had this envious yet funny relationship with Pope Francis, because he wanted to be the first Pope Francis. So, his nickname among me and my friends was “The Pope” (with all respect Father).

We started building a relationship beyond father and son as I got older. 

We started building a relationship as a man to man and I can say he passed away being proud of the man I have become, and I am proud of the man he was.

He was proudest of me on three occasions:

  • Graduating with my Masters from Harvard Graduate School of Education

  • Witnessing me become a husband on my wedding day

  • And seeing me take great care, love, and thought into honoring and burying my mother, his first wife.

We got to know each other man-to-man during trips to the movies, comic book conventions, a certain flea market in New Hampshire, and Bickford’s; boy did he love his Big Apple. That love may have rivaled Harry Potter!

One of the things that has given me solace is knowing I got to take him on vacation to see his beloved Hogwarts Castle at Orlando’s Universal Studio’s Wizarding World of Harry Potter. Now, if you know my dad, you know how hard it is to get him to take a vacation! He was the same man I had planned a trip to New York City for to go to the new Harry Potter store and as we were in the store he said, “We gotta be quick, I have work tonight.”

I got to spend four days, three nights, with a man whose smile was to the moon when he saw anything Harry Potter. Who became a shy boy when he saw Betty Boop walking around. Who chooses to get on one ride with me and let me tell you, Hagrid’s Motorbike is not a joke! We paid the $40 for the digital and physical picture proof!

I witnessed my dad in full joy and glory as he ate baked ziti one night, then threw down on some gourmet lasagna the next night and considered Bubba Gumps Shrimp for dessert. I will forever have those memories with me and I know it must have been god’s will to have had that time with him.

In closing, I know my dad, Francisco Griffin Pina, AKA The Pope, BKA Frankie is survived by me. But I want to change the wording to my dad is living within me. Within my memories and my likeness and some of my mannerisms. He was a great man. Each of us here is a testament to that; In the memories we have of him, the words we have shared about him, and the joy he gifted to us. We may be paying for that joy with our grief, but Francisco, my dad, was well worth the price.

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