By Martha Guzman, 13, Berendo MS
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Martha says that growing up without a dad has made her more independent.

When I was growing up, my grandma, who raised me, said wonderful things about my biological mother, who lives in Mexico. She’d say “Oh Martha, your mother can’t wait until you visit” and “She loves you.” But she wouldn’t say anything about my dad. It was like I didn’t have a dad. I sometimes imagined that my dad was dead because my grandmother never talked about him. Sometimes I thought my dad was alive and would come and see me one day.

When I was 9 years old my friend asked me, “Where is your dad?” I ran home and sat my grandmother down and screamed, “I want to know where my dad is. Why is he not here with me?”
“Calm down, let me explain,” she said. “It’s a very long story.”

My grandma told me that my mom was a secretary at a petroleum company that my dad owned in Mexico. To me it sounded like their love was a love of the wind—it touched her face and then it left. My mom got pregnant. At the same time, my dad had to leave because of his job, but my mom couldn’t go because she had two other kids to take care of. From that day on, my mom hasn’t heard from him. When my dad left, he didn’t know that I was on the way.

My whole world changed when my grandma told me this. I wished I had never asked. I felt like I was stabbed in the back because all those years I had thought I didn’t have a dad, but my dad was alive. Before, I could imagine talking to my dad through God. Now, I don’t know what to think about my dad. Would he love me if he knew he had a daughter? Would he care about me? Does he have any other kids?

Illustration by Adonia Tan, 17, Walnut HS

Knowing the truth hurts more because I think millions of thoughts about him. Most girls have dads who take them to their practices, buy them things and play with them. Why can’t I have that? I think about my dad every day, especially when my grandmother and I argue. If my dad were here he would defend me. Sometimes I fight with my cousins and my grandmother takes my cousins’ sides instead of mine. But I believe that if my dad were here he would defend me and not my cousins, even if I was wrong.

But the time that I missed my dad the most was my First Communion when I turned 13.

The morning of my communion, I went to the beauty salon and got my hair done in a ponytail with curls. Then we went to the church. I was dressed all in white with a long dress, shoes and even a crown with beads in the shape of flowers. I felt like a real princess.

The church was packed and I was really nervous. I wished my dad could be there with me, asking me how I felt and telling me how proud he was. I imagined seeing him by my side during the Mass, telling me he loved me.

At the party afterwards, I had fun hanging out with the kids and playing in the jumper castle. But my dad is always in my heart and in my mind, even when I’m having fun. I hated myself for spending time thinking about him rather than having fun. I just wanted him off my mind.

I wished I had someone to talk to

I didn’t tell anyone how I felt. No one in my family knows how I feel about my dad. My grandmother and I can talk about school and joke around, but we’ve never talked about personal things. Once I said “I want a dad,” but she said, “Not right now” because she was worried about my sister, who has severe asthma and lives with my mom in Mexico. She doesn’t take things in my life seriously because I’m young and therefore my life shouldn’t be difficult. But there’s no minimum age for suffering.

My real mom doesn’t talk to me about my dad. She calls me only once or twice a year. Sometimes I miss my real mom but other times I don’t because I don’t have a relationship with her. I don’t know why I wasn’t raised by her but it’s OK because I have my grandma, who is like my mother to me. When I tell my mom I want to know about my dad, she says in a sarcastic way, “Why?” I say, “Forget it, it was just a stupid question.” For four years she’s been saying she would send me a picture of him but the picture has never come. I don’t know why she won’t tell me about him. Maybe she is keeping a secret from me. Maybe it hurts her to talk about it.

I just want to learn about my history. I was talking about my dad with a mentor and he said that his last name came from Europe. It made me want to know more.

I wonder what he looks like. My grandma told me that his eyes are blue, he has blonde hair and he’s tall. I know his name and that he’s from Denver, Colorado. I want to know what his personality is like. I mean, I get angry really quickly with my grandma and my family. I think that maybe I got my anger from my dad. I also think about what it would be like to live with him. Would I fight with my dad? Would it be the same as living with my grandmother and my other family members, or would it be a better relationship?

Last year I tried to find my dad. I went on the Internet and typed his name and Denver into But it felt like there were a million people with that name. I gave up because I didn’t have all the information I needed to find him.

Sometimes when I see some girls or boys with their dads, I feel sad. Other times I tell myself to be grateful for what I have. At least I have my grandmother and my sister in Mexico. For them, I want to work hard and study and be someone in life. I also have a family—my aunts, uncles and cousins—all of whom I love very much.

So don’t feel sorry for me. Then I’ll feel sorry for myself and I don’t like when that happens. I only want him to know that he has a daughter. At least he’ll know what he left and what he has. If there’s a chance, I want to get to know him. If I never do, there will be a reason why, like maybe he wasn’t the perfect dad and he wasn’t supposed to be with me.

I’m not going to let thinking about my dad bring me down because then I would never accomplish my goal to be an actress and a singer. I want him to be with me, but 13 years have passed and I’ve made it without him. I could live more years without him and be strong enough to take care of myself in good and bad times. But he will always be in my heart. He is my dad and I will always love him.