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A espresso with my DAD

Oct 15, 2022
The pandemic has put me for the first time in my life face to face with human mortality, or rather with the idea of mortality itself. Having a daily count of the number of people who are dying puts us in front of a reality that we prefer to ignore until it arrives... because that is clear, that day is going to come. To imagine that people who die are doing so due to shortness of breath is even more shocking and raw. For me at least, it has been something of an awakening, it leads me to question even more deeply, the sense of what we do while we are alive. How we invest our valuable time, energy and joy of life.
And because of those coincidences, today (5/4/2020) my old man died; it's a very sad day. In the case of my father who already suffered from a long illness, the only thing I asked is that he does not suffer too much, that he did not feel terror... terror to die, terror to the mystery of death. At times like these, those of us who have grown up in a Christian world speak more of faith and cling and comfort ourselves with the idea of heaven and a better world. I still have unresolved issues with these ideas....
It has been about 37 years that due to my decision to dedicate my life to tennis and my need to travel to be able to develop this activity, I found myself in the situation of cutting the umbilical cord with my family of origin, at the beginning it was extremely difficult, it seemed unfair to have to live a situation as complex as professional tennis by myself. However, life and time are excellent teachers and without realizing it, I began to become a more self-sufficient person and learned to fend for myself. Relationships at a distance change, those who leave change even more, the environment is relentless, and those who stay I guess do not see you change, in their memory you remain the same.
My father was a good father, I have no outstanding debts with him. Yesterday a few hours before he died he sent me a voice message in which he said "I can't do it anymore, I'm suffering a lot". It sounded like a farewell to me, as if he was asking for permission to let go, trying to tell me that, 'If I could, I wouldn't leave you alone.' He was an extremely protective father. He took care of us all while he could. There will be no more espressos or cortaditos together, "cafoyos" as he used to call them, however the ritual of drinking an espresso will always be related to him. That remains and now I understand why this habit is rooted in me, it is the emotional bond with a strong man who in his own way, was always there. And when I look in the mirror, I see him in me, we look more and more like each other, it is undeniable that his DNA inhabits me.
My heritage gave me tennis, my father, gave me the passion for the game. In my work as a coach I have seen so many figures of fathers and mothers so different from those that I had. I saw my dad, running every day to play tennis, the example of what has been my relationship with tennis, I had this example right in front of my face. I remember that the first ATP tournaments I played in the south of Chile, I must have been around 16 years old and I did it in the company of my father. I don't remember any bad vibes for losing, it was almost as a tennis vacation. I remember that he had a good time sharing with the rest of the players. He read the newspaper every night  before falling asleep. I understand that times have changed and today rarely anyone plays competitive tennis just for the love of the game. I think for him, tennis was something fun and normal, nothing very special was required to increase my performance, just to get on the court, make the right effort and have a good behavior. It was simple.
Somehow, I am very curious about the possibility that we all have, to see if the crises we experience will truly give us a different outlook at life and maybe inspire us to real behavior changes.
For me life has always been a mystery that I have tried to understand, and as I write this I laugh, as I will most likely never be able to understand it. Maybe there is nothing to understand just to treasure the life we have been given, to immerse ourself in the experience of being human and never to forget that we are mortal on this earth.
The one who went on a trip was usually me, now you left. Safe traveling dad!
Jose Antonio Fernandez

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