A tribute to my hero: dad

Hello, my name is Elsie Fernandez. I am giving this tribute today to honor somebody special to me, somebody who has given me the most support I will ever receive, a person who has guided me with patience, and a person who loves me unconditionally each day. This person is my dad, whom I recognize as my hero. My love for my dad is simply not something I can express in a small speech such as this one, but I will try my best to do so right now. My dad is not like many, he is special. He is my comfort, my safe space, and the only person who makes it seem like everything will be okay. The amount of support and love that he has given me from the start is unexplainable, I am forever grateful for what my dad has done for me and will continue to be. The speech I am about to give to you all will honor my dad because he holds the most special place in my heart.

I have heard many stories about when I was a baby about my dad and I’s connection. He built my crib while I stayed in the hospital due to infant jaundice, he visited me along with my mom, and he waited until the day I came home. As soon as I was able to come back, I was put into my nursery. I dreaded being alone there, especially without my father. If he left, I cried, and only when he returned did I stop. If he sneezed, I sobbed until he held me in his arms. If he wasn’t the one holding me, I would have cried as well. Just the sight of my dad’s face brought me instant joy. Though I don’t remember what it was like, I know that I was happy as long as my father was there.

Times weren’t the best when I was young. My dad couldn’t find work, making my the money maker. She arrived home late while I spent the weekdays with my dad at home. Though that may seem tough, these were some of the best times in my life. While this went on, I got swung almost everyday by my dad in the park. I distinctly remember going there one day, having the biggest smile plastered onto my face and laughing like crazy as I was being pushed on the baby swing. I could hear my dad say “Elsie, I love you Mami.” To which I responded in a high-pitched baby voice, “I love you, Papi.” Similarly, when my hamster died, I cried for days straight and had him right there by my side. My dad hates seeing me cry or even sad in the slightest, it made him feel horrible. He carried a pang of guilt around with him as if it was his fault, but it never was and never will be. He came down to the basement where I was one day and said, as I was crying, “Mami, I love you and you know I hate seeing you cry. He (my hamster) is in a better place and I know you made him happy. Do not cry okay? I love you so much.” He kissed me on the forehead afterward and gave me some space.

I often get emotional when thinking about those days. Who wouldn’t? Looking back on those moments, though they may seem normal or small, they were so special to me. If I had the chance of going back and experiencing being that close with him one last time, I would take it in a heartbeat. Becoming older has changed things a lot between us. He works now, making it so I only get to spend time with him on Saturdays but that only makes the time we spend together even more valuable. My dad has seen me cry, smile, laugh, grow, learn, make mistakes, throw tantrums, and become who I am today. Though sometimes he may be strict and scary when he gets mad, I understand him. I am the only daughter he has in his life, he does anything in his powers to protect me. 

My dad has always been my hero, he has saved me. I will never be able to imagine my life without him or imagine the type of person I would be if he didn’t teach me how to be so resilient. He has shaped my life and changed it forever. He is forever MY special person.

Thank you for listening.

Elise Fernandez

Saint Ignatius College Prep – DMSF Class of 2026

Photo from my dad’s phone