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Thirty Five Dollars
Photo: Jonathan Ross
It slipped out today, “my dad’s picking me up”, and I liked it. Even though he’s not my birth father, if anyone were deserving of the title “Dad”, it would be my stepdad. My parents were divorced when I was very little, and my mom remarried when I was four. That means my stepdad has been putting up with me and my craziness for 15 years. Yesterday marked 10 years since my mom, stepdad, and I moved to the U.S from Cuba, which means that, for those 10 years, my stepdad has been my only father figure.

A few weeks ago, my friend and I went to Orlando to visit our beloved outlet malls. While there, I thought I might as well take care of my stepdad’s Father’s Day present. I went into the Nike store and came out $35 poorer. In this economy, and me being a college student, that was more money than I was okay with spending. When I told my friend, and fellow thrift-seeker, she asked me if my stepdad was worth $35 of Nike products. I said that of course he was, but those $35 bothered me the whole ride home.

Dinner Ready

About an hour before we reached my house, my mom called to see when I would be getting home because my stepdad had been calling her all day asking, so he could have dinner ready for me.

I then remembered all the sacrifices my stepdad had made for me, over the last 15 years. Taking me to school on a bicycle in the streets of Cuba, then in a small hot car on the streets of Miami, then driving 12 hours without sleep to drop me off at college in Tennessee. He works a full day, makes lunch for my mom who works all day, and even makes dinner on the nights my mom is working really late. And that night he made me my favorite food.

I didn’t have the money to comfortably spend $35, but nothing that my stepdad has ever done for me was done “comfortably”. He deserves far more than $35 worth of Nike products. But his worth should not be measured that way. His worth to me is measured in how many times I accidentally call him “Dad,” and by the smile I get when I do.

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By Raquel Levy. Copyright © 2010 by
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