Saturday, May 3, 2014

MYRA KELSO, The Strongest Man in the World

Sometimes when I watched his eyes, he looked like something was troubling him. His eyes, his stare was powerful and strong. I never had the courage to ask what was on his mind, and not because I was scared of him ... but because I was afraid to hear his answer.

He was the strongest man in the world.

He used to tell me his bicep was a bunny and he would make it hop for me by flexing the muscle.

When we would walk together and I held onto his arm, he would tell me to be careful not to hurt myself with his strong arm, and he would flex his forearm. It always made me laugh.

I couldn’t understand why he would make me switch sides with him if I was walking on the sidewalk closer to the curb. When I asked him why he would make me switch sides, he said it was a sign of respect.

He never went through my purse, even with my permission. He said it was disrespectful.

He made me iron his hat.

Our favorite movies were Tombstone and Aladdin.

He used to buy me chocolate kisses when I was little.

He used to fall asleep watching Bonanza.

He was clean.

He owned exactly one belt for about 20 years. When the leather would wear out in parts of the belt, he fixed it with black electrical tape. I asked him why he didn’t just buy a new belt, “Because they don’t make them like this anymore. This is a man’s belt.”

He and I would go on road trips to visit family in Mexicali. We sang together, loud, the whole way.

He had an amazing singing voice.

He used to ask me for kisses and when I didn’t kiss his cheek the right way he would make me do it again till I got it right. It always made me laugh.

He cussed A LOT especially in Spanish.

He learned how to fight at an early age, he told me, because he had to defend himself from bullies making fun of his mom. He used to tell me his father would get drunk and try to start fights with strangers at bars. Of course, my dad would have to step in and do the dirty work for him.

He taught my brothers how to box. He would try to show me (his only daughter) how to defend myself but I was terrified of fighting.

When I was a little girl I wanted to dress like him, complete with the cowboy hat and boots.

He let me play with his hair and make pony tails all over his head. His hair was very greasy.

When we were in the car and he caught me off guard he would squeeze my knee and yell, “CHICKEN LEGS!”  and I hated it.

I used to give him pedicures, and he would complain the entire time.

I groomed his ears and his eyebrows.

He had a comb just for his mustache.

He told me he was proud of me because I was different than other girls my age.

He played guitar well.

He had a nail clipper attached to his keys.

He had lots of notebooks filled with lyrics to his favorite songs in Spanish and English. I asked him why he wrote them out, and he said that by writing it out he would memorize the entire song.

I loved his hands. They were strong but looked overworked, beautiful.

He loved sugar. Mexican sweet bread, cereal, soda, Hershey’s Chocolate Kisses, and pancakes were some of his favorite.

My mother was the love of his life.

I found out he had a child before he met and married my mom. When I asked him if it was true he said, “No. You and your brothers are the only children I have. I cannot call a child mine if I didn’t have any part in raising them.” The mother was a woman named Marisela. My father had her name tattooed on his left arm. Marisela’s family never approved of my father. They wanted someone better for her and they had someone in mind. My father and Marisela were together for a while but when her family found out she was pregnant, they sent her away without telling my father anything. Occasionally, my father would hear that Marisela had a boy and that he looked a lot like my father. 

My father would have been sixty years old today. 


  1. Thanknyou for sharing your story. I learned quite a bit about my father-in-law. Not knowing back when i was 14 id be his future daughter-in-law. Looking at his pictures makes me think of Steve, how he would look as we grow old. Happy Birthday Dad.

  2. Something about the eyes, Steve has that same glare you talk about. When i see pictures of your dad, it reminds me my husband is going to look just like him. Who would have known id be his daughter-in-law. Cause at the age of 14 i sure didnt. Thank you for sharing your story, i learned alot about him and its all making sense, Steve is his father. Happy birthday Dad.