I feel it's important to show admiration, gratitude and respect to the people in your life who have significantly affected you. To the people you live for, even if you don't outwardly say it to them.
Here's my attempt at doing just that:
My father: Taught me the value of spirituality and love. A constant ray of sunshine in the lives of those around him, always with hands ready to heal and to help. Kindness, patience, and warmth can get you through the hardest of times. You are a light that never dulls, and a fuel for me to make you proud.
My grandfather, Pepe: Taught me the value of humor, and of hard work. From a smiling wink of his blue eyes to an always light-hearted presence in the room, to going to school and learning new things just to keep his brain sharp - throughout all of his life, until his sickness no longer let him. Your personality will forever be missed.
My brother, Danny: Taught me the value of humility. Being a man of few words, always humble, who observes before he acts, who practices neutrality over brashness. This is a level of strength much harder to obtain than a show of "manly" action. You've always been my role model.
My brother, Justin: Taught me the value of persistence. Of being a dude who will never give up on his dreams, ever. No matter the obstacles. Proud of you, kid. You're an inspiration.
My brother, Alex: Taught me the value of creativity and individuality. Of being yourself, your true self, un-apologetic to those who don't accept you. You're a leader and a soldier.
My grandfather, Papa: Taught me the value of family, and of sacrifice. This is a man who did everything, EVERYTHING, for his family. Every breath he took, every move he made, was for those who came after him. You are the reason we are ALL here. An indomitable spirit.
My step-father, Henry: Taught me the value of strength. Of not relying on others, of being self-preserving and able to provide for yourself. Of not whining, not complaining, not arguing about the hand you've been dealt. You're a magnificent example of a man.
My brother-in-law, Eric: Taught me the value of heart. Of wearing your emotions on your sleeve, not afraid to show those close to you how much you care, how much you love them, how much they mean to you. You're gold, bro.
My mother: Taught me the value of independence. Of getting up from every fall, wiping the dust off, and trying again. My grit, determination, and relentless drive comes from you. You're a winner, and I'm proud to be your son.
My grandmother, Amada: Taught me the value of happiness. Of always smiling, always showing the people you love how much you love them, always being energetically joyful. If Christmas were a person, for me, she would be it. Another constant light in my life.
My sister: Taught me the value of friendship and of trust. Of always being the person who's got EVERYONE'S back. Of always being the crutch to lean on, no matter how heavy the weight is to bear. Your strength is underrated.
My grandmother, Mama: Taught me the value of laughter. Of making the most out of what life provides you, of making a mountain out of a molehill. Of laughing when life wants you to cry. This is a woman who makes magic out of everything she touches.
My step-mother, Arlene: Taught me the value of fighting. Of never giving up, of always pushing through the gunk and the grime of life to emerge on the other side, unscathed. You are a trooper, a soldier, and a quiet strength.
My sister-in-law, Noel: Taught me the value of responsibility. Of parenthood. Of how having something or someone to look after, care for, nurture, brings the golden glow out of all of us. You were one of the earliest examples of a mother I ever witnessed, and you left a lasting and illuminating affect on me because of it.
My wife: Taught me the value of support and of respect. This is a woman who has profoundly changed my life. Who has taught me that all you need in your world is the love, appreciation, support, admiration, and respect of a peer, of an equal, of someone who will always give you a high five. My partner in crime, my ride or die, my soulmate, my reason and my rhyme.
There are so many honorable mentions, but I didn't want to include everyone I'd ever met for fear of opening up Pandora's box LOL. These are the people who have made me who I am, and these are the people who I will continue to better myself for. I'm here for YOU, not for myself. You have all stolen pieces of my heart I don't want you to give back, for fear that I wouldn't treat it as well as you would, and as you have. I love you all so much!