Saturday, October 6, 2012

My Dad and My Inspiration

My parents were separated before I was two years old. I remember weekend visits with my Dad. Those didn't last for too long but the little moments are burned into my memories. We moved from Kansas City to Illinois just before I turned 8 years old. I think when I was younger I was bothered by the fact that my dad wasn't there every day. Now that I do not live with my own child (for completely different circumstances) I am able to understand why I didn't see my Dad everyday. Everything about my life and what's happened with my own son has brought me to the point of acceptance and being able to understand my parents and their struggle. Our family may not be traditional, but in my opinion, it does not stray from the norm of any other American family in this day and age. 

I have 5 sisters. We are spread out all over the globe. Two of my sisters live in Kansas City, Missouri, one in Bettendorf, Iowa and my two step sisters live in El Salvador. Our family unit is normal to me. We may not be a typical nuclear family but I think that is typical of our time. I am thankful for all of the advancement with the internet because I am able to stay in touch with everyone, mainly through Facebook and Skype. Above all, I am thankful that my mother made a point to teach me the importance of family. She has always supported my desire to stay connected with everyone and has nothing but good things to say about each and every member of our wacky little Harmon/Bonderer/Cruz unit.

Years ago, when I met my husband, he taught me things that made me love my father even more. He preached the value of "honoring thy mother and father," regardless of the circumstances. Today, my Dad is a huge part of my life. I always know that he is a Skype call away and because of that, he has been able to teach me so much about life. He is the first person I go to for advice, and I value his opinion more than any other. He is a man that so many aspire to be, including myself. He has embraced life and love and generosity for all that it is worth. I don't dwell on the past with him. It has no place in our relationship. Because I have gone through the things I have, I am finally able to understand him and his decisions, and appreciate him. I am so insanely proud of Michael Bonderer and who he is today. 

I want to share his story because he is an inspiration to me. If I end up being a tenth of the person he is today, I will die a happy woman. Although we are worlds apart, we come from similar backgrounds. We have made monumental mistakes in our lives but are both trying our best to move on from our pasts and do something with ourselves and the lives we lead today. I cannot appropriately put my thoughts into words. What does my Dad mean to me? There really are no words. I am so thankful that he is my father and I am so thankful that he is a part of my life. I'm even thankful that I have gone through such hard times so that I am able to come to a point where I can appreciate him and everything he does.

I can only hope to make such an impact in my lifetime but I don’t think I could ever touch a person's life in the way that he has been able to. I wanted to share all of this because I am so proud and because I would like to give some attention to his organization and shed some light on his cause. I hope to involve myself in charities in Mexico in the same way that my father has in Guatemala, El Salvador, Nicaragua and Haiti. I feel like there is a reason I ended up leaving the US and that God has a purpose for me in this world.

This video touches on my father's life and work and explains why he is such an inspiration to me. If anyone has any questions or would like to volunteer, please visit

"What we need... People who are ready and willing to serve: who will just show up."


  1. Emily, thank you so much for sharing this story about your life and your father's life with us. I loved the video and I will be sharing it on my blog as well. Everyone makes mistakes and sometimes some people make bigger mistakes than others, but it's so nice to know that no matter where we begin, we can end in a different, more positive place. I'm so inspired by the work your father does and even more so by the humble manner in which he does it.

  2. That was an amazing video, truly inspiring. Thanks for sharing it Emily. You have a lot to be proud of in your dad.

  3. Incredible and really inspiring. This is such a wonderful tribute to your father.