Introduction: The Life of Oscar Benito Gutierrez Badell

El Ingeniero con Alma de Poeta

As a foreigner adjusting to life in America, I found respite in the written word.

Learning English by reading The Chronicles of Narnia with the help of an English-to-Spanish dictionary proved easier than keeping up with grammar teachers woefully uninterested in appeasing international students. After reading enough books to understand the significance of being “on” a bus rather than “in” one, I too began to put pen to paper and discovered a medium for mulling over emotion until giving it structure.

Midway through high school, I wrote an essay titled “Pushing Daisies” where a father and daughter spent an afternoon gardening inside a greenhouse connected to their home. The father passed away shortly after the opening scene and the daughter found herself returning to the greenhouse time and time again, searching for her father’s presence.

My original intention was to follow the story into the daughter’s adulthood, culminating in a wedding where she walked herself down the aisle alongside a trail of daisies, his favorite flower. Yet the essay was only supposed to be a couple of pages, so the story ended on the front porch of a house whose outline I still recall.

It was also around this time that my own father asked me if I would ever write his life story. He, like many of us, craved the immortality enclosed within the written word. I reassured him that someday I would, failing to recognize I was already in the process of doing so.

A decade after writing “Pushing Daisies”, and one year after my father’s passing, I spend most days listening to boleros and wearing his cashmere sweaters, searching for his presence in my own version of a greenhouse.

The following is a series of essays for a man who sought to be remembered, written by a daughter yearning for his permanence.

My father painting, captured by Michelle Ayoubi

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