On Wednesday, January 2, 2019 at 10:30 pm, Rodolfo Candelaria Jr’s spirit ascended to meet his Heavenly Father. During his final hours here on Earth, his brothers, sister, nieces, nephews, cousins, granddaughter, past colleagues and friends gathered to honor him, tell stories, join in laughter and celebration, and shower him with love. Dad’s spirit left this Earth while my mom held his left hand and with my sister and me holding his right. It was peaceful, just as he would have wanted.
Dad was diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease in September of 2015. We didn’t know much about the disease, but dad knew that he was going to “kick it in the butt” and that he wouldn’t allow such a diagnosis to keep him from living fully. Dad lived, played, and loved each day to its fullest.
In his 71 years of life, he played many roles: son, brother, uncle, husband, friend, provider, engineer, business partner, teacher, elder, mentor, and dad.
Of all the roles Dad had in life, I loved that he was not only my father, but my friend and business advisor. We didn’t always see eye to eye, but he’s the man who would always tell me what I needed to hear, and not what I wanted to hear… even when I didn’t want to hear what he had to say.
Often times these conversations would happen over breakfast. Growing up, Saturday mornings were my favorite day of the week because it meant breakfast with dad and sometimes one of my grandpas would join us. As I grew older, these Saturday morning meals with dad were often shared with my Tío Rey as well.
It was over coffee, taco, and menudo that dad would share advice about life and business. A few key tips from the last year included:
“The more you invest in the right things and places for your business, the more you’ll get out of it.”
“Fancy images don’t make you money, they cut down your profits and we get in business to make money and thrive… not just get by. Don’t worry about ‘fancy’ images and marketing, use marketing that gets people to buy.”
“Just because someone says ‘nope’, ‘no’, or ‘not today’ doesn’t mean they aren’t a future sponsor or customer. The art is in the follow up. If you want the sale, show them their value and return on investment.”
“Grow old and not young because when you’re old you can leave your wallet at home and have someone else buy you breakfast.”
Then, one morning, he asked me a simple question at breakfast. It caught me off guard. I wasn’t ready for the question, especially from my dad! That said… It’s amazing how one simple question can help shift perspective.
Want to know the question?
I’m not sharing it… yet! 🙂 I will one day but, for now, it’s a question that I frequently ask myself when making big decisions about life and business.
Over the past few days I’ve learned so much about my dad from others, and have also had the opportunity to revisit stories I’d forgotten about. Stories about his military career, the times (yes, multiple) he gifted cars to others, how he helped others start their businesses and mentored them to success, and story after story about how my dad was the “real deal” and someone they knew they could always count on.
Dad loved mentoring young entrepreneurs, teaching sales and marketing skills, and was also passionate about supporting causes that provide educational resources to families, specifically those with children, affected by Parkinson’s Disease.
As a family, we will be making contributions to organizations in Dad’s name to honor his legacy and continue the work he loved. If you’d like to make memorial contributions to honor Dad’s legacy, please do so by clicking here.
Thank you for your messages, calls, texts, cards, gifts, and your continued prayers and love.
As a family, we thank you for your messages and your favorite stories about Dad and how he impacted you or those around you.
I am grateful to share this journey with you.
I love y’all!
PS: We are making contributions to various organization that provide resources to families affected by Parkinsons’ disease as well as organizations that provide resources for youth entrepreneurship. If you’d like to join us in honoring dad’s legacy, please consider making a donation here.