by Holly Meneses Smith
This is my father. Pounding everywhere he goes, his feet to the ground with purpose. As if shaking a fist at the demons underground, “I will defeat you!” Make no mistake, Michael Meneses is here. I knew it when he would walk across the wooden floorboards upstairs; from bedroom, to bathroom, to office. From office, to bathroom, to kitchen.
My father is home. Most of the curls on his head are combed back into greying waves. Quick, forceful combing in the bathroom mirror. All movement aims towards his purpose. He keeps his comb in that mirror. The same mirror on which he would draw secret steamed messages to his children between showers; surprise love notes that would appear and disappear just as quickly.
This is my father. Jam and peanut butter on toast, cream of wheat, cheese and crackers. Simple cravings, really. Simple and unapologetic, like his convictions. Straightforward, like his certainty. Clear and sharp edged, like his reasoning. Our pallets are the same.
This is my father. Spontaneous dancing with his children in his office, as if on some Latin dancing show. If we got too clumsy, stumbling underfoot, he would simply lift us atop them, where we would glide effortlessly across the carpet with his movements. Movements that revealed a spirit of celebration, hidden, often, amidst an all too demanding and, unbeknownst to many, a profoundly wounded life. When it came to finding light in the darkness, this man taught me how to pray, and how to samba.
This is my father. The man who pastors his church with vigor, and grace. Whose words can be soft while his voice is strong. The man who calls troops into spiritual battle, while in the same moment inviting his people into eternal peace. His is a faith to move mountains, and a heart that never doubted that God could.
This is my father. Unmatched is the delight that lights up his face in the presence of his grandchildren. Children, who reminded him of a time in his own innocence, when he could run carefree through the world, the wind at his back, his feet light on the ground. A time when the smile that cracked upon his face was boundless, when laughter bubbled up from his little belly and split open his little lips. A time when the elation he felt while chasing a friend or biking down a street had the potential to fill the world. And it would fill the world, he knew, for God’s unconditional love is evident in the joy of little children. It was this love that he pointed to every day until the very end.
This is my father. This determined, faithful, convicted, impassioned, life-loving child of God. I imagine that his heart pounds in his chest once again; that his laughter fills the chambers of that great kingdom, as he races through the streets and dances on the feet of his Father. In that place where the love notes never disappear from the mirrors and where the demons are utterly defeated. There, where he is fully known and eternally celebrated. This is my father. My father is home.