Rosa Maria Santana
As a little girl, I called him Papí. I adored him. As I grew older and spoke more English than Spanish, our relationship became more strained, more distant. I stopped calling him Papí. Instead, he became Dad. I became, in one sense, daddy’s grown-up little girl, left with more questions than answers.
Back in elementary school, I did my homework in the dining room, where I cherished my bird’s-eye view of Papí in the living room. After a long day of work, Papí would lie on his stomach while watching TV. During commercials, he’d turn over on his back and rub his tummy. In those moments sometimes, I’d sneak up on him, then suddenly jump on his big belly as if it were a trampoline. I was only six or seven years old, but he acted like I weighed a thousand pounds. He’d yell in Spanish: ¡Ah! ¿Qué andas haciendo? ¡Ya para! Translation: What are you doing? Stop it!