Sitting in a classroom full of tiny chairs and tiny desks, Charlie Garcia is getting emotional. It’s not sadness, really. They are happy tears filled with happy memories. The long-time, much-loved teacher at Erie Elementary is considered a sage to many local parents and children. They can tell you all about his happy tears on the last day of school each year.
But today, Garcia is discussing his family and his father and his own fatherhood.
It’s been 30 years since his father was overcome with cancer; Garcia was in his mid 20s, left with lots of emotion and many unanswered questions about his father’s hopes, dreams and history. Even after putting it all down on paper, as he did last summer, it still touches him.
In Garcia’s new, self-published book, I’ll Be A Good Boy Forever, he works to come to terms with his father’s death by reconnecting with a simple childhood prayer that he kept secret for decades. “I’ve always been spiritual, but it’s been personal, something I’ve kept to myself,” he says.
The book becomes a lovely little memoir in which he goes on a “spiritual journey, an emotional journey.” For Garcia, the book allowed him to reconnect with something very deep and personal and to share it with the world.
“In the book I visit places that were stops in my life that helped me realize my spirituality. I wanted to go to these places to help me pray for my father,” he says. “I really wanted to connect with God as I did as a child.
In Charlie’s Words:
On his prayer: “I would ask for something, and then I would promise that I’d be a good boy. I really convinced myself it worked. I would pray for a hailstorm to stop and it would stop. I would pray for my brother’s nosebleed to stop and it would. …Eventually, in high school, with the threat of going to Vietnam looming, I said this prayer, and by my senior year, peace talks had begun.”
“When my father was diagnosed with cancer, I pitted my prayer against his cancer. …But eventually it changed. I was no longer praying to save his life. It was to help him move on.”
On writing: “Ever since I heard the song ‘Paperback Writer,’ I’ve wanted to write,” he laughs. “Back then, I think it was for the money. But then I started writing this as a cleansing experience. …I started writing for myself.”
“I smiled a lot when I was writing this. It feels good to have it on paper. It felt good to go back (mentally) and to celebrate my family.”
On his readers: “I hope by reading the book, you will know me better. And I hope you will take time to thank your parents, to tell them how much you love them.”