MTC Alumni, Felix Lucero and his daughter

Alumni Spotlight: Felix Lucero on Fatherhood

By Felix Lucero | June 16, 2020

During the summer of 2020, we’re celebrating the fathers, grandfathers, and other parental figures in our community. We are proud to share their reflections on what it means to be a parent and how their lives have been enriched by the experience.

I became a father when I was fifteen so I can’t really say that I understood what it meant to be a father. I had an idea that it included providing and making sure Desiree didn’t topple over and hit her head. I knew that I loved her, but I was caught up in my own quiet insanity. When she was born, I told myself that I wouldn’t be like my own absent father; I heard that somewhere, but it had as much meaning to me as “where do you see yourself in ten years”. Before I realized how much she would mean to me, I was gone. I saw her walk, changed a few diapers, and watched her cry at her first birthday party.

The next 18 years, I watched her grow up in pictures and in the prison visiting room. I did my best to let her know that I loved her and missed her. I used to make her birthday and holiday cards with a special personal poem in each one. I’d say in my mid-twenties I became aware of the time I was losing with her. Every night after the evening security count, I’d listen for the guard passing out mail and hope there was a letter from her. I remember the occasional fifteen-page letter written over a few months covering every detail of her life. I devoured every single word.

Desiree was my hope. She was the lighthouse that was often too distant to see. I knew I couldn’t be there to take her school, or teach her to ride a bike, but I could do things that made her proud of me. I think I did a decent job. She was eighteen when I paroled and living in San Diego. One of the first adventures we had outside of prison was trekking through Berkeley and eating at a vegan restaurant. If I had to choose the greatest benefit to fatherhood, it would be that despite all my shortcomings at any given moment, I can be a hero, even if it’s just for checking shoes for spiders.