Memoirs of a MasseurTodd Pequeen

Father and Son 

My dad is the biggest influence in my life. He tried to teach me everything that brought him success all while learning to be a new father and managing a three-child family at a young age. He taught me the lessons of life through sports, everything was an analogy. As my life long and high school varsity wrestling coach, my middle school physical education teacher, and being directly involved with every teacher I had, the reins could not have been tighter. With two older sisters very close in age my upbringing was controlled and playful, meaning my sisters and I had just enough space to be happy and good “traditional” kids. It suited us well and I am forever grateful, at the time I thought everyone had a family like mine.

Much to their surprise Mom and Dad had three kids in four years in the late 60’s and early 70’s. Dad landed a teaching job in our local school district in a suburb of Buffalo, NY. In my youngest of years, I was raised in a small apartment with my sisters sleeping above me in our triple bunk bed and shared bedroom. My Polish American grandparents lived above us. Eventually my father earned his “official” teaching job and we moved a few miles away into our local school district and into my parent’s first house, I was in first grade. Dad’s first financial security went along with state employment, no longer did he have to be a steel worker, truck driver, or plow driveways. In the years that followed, coaching any and all sports was the go-to, sometimes moonlighting by loading trucks after school to save for Christmas presents, spring breaks, and birthdays. As I look back now the expectation of being responsible, disciplined, and accountable was simply what life was, no excuses. In hindsight it was exactly what I needed as a teenager trying to find my way in the America of the 80s and 90s. I often tell friends and massage clients the backstory of the intimacy developed with my father being my teacher and coach, yet few understand how seemingly well it has worked out for me as an adult man.

Dad turns eighty this month. I will hand my father this Quepolandia magazine on his Valentine’s Day birthday and I hope he thinks back on the decades past and feels proud. His two daughters, his only son, and his four grandchildren all see him as a success, a man of his word, and the solid foundation that built the Pequeen name. His upbringing wasn’t easy, he grew up in government subsidized housing with eight siblings behind him. His father was a truck driver, alcoholic, and eventually left his family. His mother actually assigned him one of his triplet brothers to take care of while he was still a boy. Eventually, he fell in love with my mom in high school and began his own family. This month’s article is about what a father and a man is to me. My sisters and I all went out of state for college with my parents’ insistence, and then I moved to the western mountains of Colorado upon graduating college at twenty-one. A few years later I went to Asia to teach English to alleviate my school loans before returning back to school for massage therapy. In 2000 I moved here to Costa Rica and I think I terrified my father. My path was highly unusual but now we are best friends. He created the foundation of my happiness by not helping, being there for advice, and trusting me as my path evolved.  I realize I am not an easy man to monitor. My pre-internet/cell phone journey is a bit wild, not easy to swallow for the “silent generation”.

The definition of love and dad to me means a constant supply of food, a roof over one’s head, verbal and emotional support, lessons on approaching everyday difficulties and dealing with failure and hardship, all while teaching personal life skills and hopefully self-discipline. I am 52 and still, the definition of a dad to me is… that male figure that I must live up to. I admire my father for many things but most of all appreciate his marital vow and commitment to my mom for almost 60 years. His sense of humor is very matter of fact and how he taught my sisters and I autonomy, self-reliance, financial planning, and most of all to be responsible for our actions was spot on. My sisters grew up the same way I did and to this day need nothing from anybody, they are free and independent, amazing mothers in their own right. For our family emotions take a backseat to the reality of handling the basics of adult life. After those pillars are covered then comes the “me.” Very similar are stories of championship teams that overcome struggles to obtain perfection—it is life, give of yourself for the good of the team. My father is a traditional gentleman that taught me to open doors for woman, to provide security for my wife, and to stand for what I believe in. He was never my best friend until he reached his mid-sixties—now there is no one I want to hang out with more than my dad. He used to tell me to re-think problems and give my mind something to focus on when I was lost. I am so grateful. I often inquire with my massage clients on how their relationships are with their parents—frequently it is a mixed bag of complications. With my dad it has evolved into awesome—I call him when I am low and spinning my wheels. I am very blessed to have watched him take on second jobs during the holiday seasons, when working one job isn’t enough work two. Even shoveling snow can be turned into a game if presented as a fun challenge in Buffalo, N.Y. Dad was always tough on me but also had that special something to make me think about the bigger picture, the real world, how fortunate we are to have the energy to outperform the regular folks in our community—to find a way to get what you want. That don’t quit attitude goes far in this world even today, and I am a fallen apple off my father’s tree. He never let me have an easy way out and fifty plus years later I finally understand. I don’t want things to be easy—I appreciate the things that my mom and dad did not give me. I am so thankful for how many times I was told no.

To provide or not provide, that is the question. Rent, cell phone bills, paying for education, car insurance, health insurance, entertainment, vacations, etc. Jerry Pequeen and my Mother Cindy brought independence to our family by staying true to their values. In this topsy turvy world when my dad didn’t agree it was for valid reasons from his experiences. My father grounded me when I lied, not when I made wrong decisions, life has never really felt easy and it still doesn’t to this day. I don’t want it to. As a boy he would take me on “mystery trips” to his local watering holes and I would sit observing men and conversation, when no cell phone or video games existed, just blue-collar men having a few beers and sharing their day. I watched him be friendly, animated, and quite often the alpha in the room even though I did not know what that meant. To me he was heavy on gender—explaining that I am responsible for my future, I needed to hear that, most likely I would not be a marrying a wealthy woman. He led by example by helping all children in school and the community with life lessons when their families couldn’t. He provided me with certainty and a foundation of stability and passion with family being the priority, and an attitude that always wins even after a loss. He would often say that there is always someone better. Both my parents were competitive triathletes in the 80’s before it became so popular. They exhibited discipline with their daily working and training, eating and sleeping, what that there is no failure. Dad always has fun and random verbal exchanges in public places, as I do today, that behavior says don’t take life too seriously. Nowadays simply being around my father is fun. I am naturally obligated to his comfort and care giving if and when needed. The real time lens in which he lives in, and understands the world through, brings great joy to my sisters and the grandkids. Happy 80th Dad. You are an amazing man in so many ways and I am lucky to have you in my life. I want to spend more time with you as life marches on—we are mending decades of normal father-son struggle and I need you to know you did an amazing job. Thank you. My sisters praise you as well. You and Mom are wonderful parents, thank you for that. Here is to your future successes, more hole in ones! Happy tears of possibilities are now our future and let’s make the most of it. Manuel Antonio is an amazing magical place and because of your diligence I have been able to thrive and survive here. I want to spread that love of life through my massage work to everyone I meet as an extension of my upbringing. Happy Birthday Dad, cheers to many more!

Todd is the most tenured massage therapist in MA working diligently since 2000.  He has an amazing home studio and provides transportation or will come to you. He can be reached on WhatsApp at 506 8830-7727 or at [email protected]. He also runs a newly built B&B with his wife Sarah, a famous photographer, They are now open for bookings,