My dad was a strong man, he stood about 5 11", a good 200 lbs, healthy as a horse. Ran like crazy every day, if I had to guess a good 3 to 4 miles. It had been along and rough road, full of hardships and pain, laughter and love. But like every road this one was coming to a bitter end. My dad like many people had made his fare share of mistakes and wrong choices, But none the less he was a good man. He came to visit us from Mexico about 2 times per year, once in April for my b-day and the other in December for Christmas. My hopes had diminished for him to move out to live with us in California. He had his life out in Mexico and even do he loved us, he would not give up his life in Mexico.Who could blame him it was all he knew.
It was either November or December I don't remember all that great, I think I blocked out the times and dates. We went to the airport to pick my father up for the last time at LAX, I always looked forward to seeing him, embracing him as he walk towards us with that walk of his, he was not the greatest looking man but he had presence and he knew it. But this time was different, it was the first time I saw him after the many and torturous Kimo therapies he had gone through to kill the cancer that was invading him. He came out of the pick up exit and honest I didn't want to admit that my father, my hero, a man who always dressed so well, who walked tall now walked slowly as if every step he took was a painful one. He had a hat on, which was a bit odd to me because he never wore one, but he did this to hide his bald head, no longer having that curly salt and pepper hair on it. His face was not even as I remembered, swollen and puffy. The Kimo took a toll on him. Always tired and his voice was not the one I recalled as a child, or even the one from 2 years ago. His demeanor was low, his ego was shot and I felt that he had given up that great fight he put up for almost 3 years.
As we drove home I remember my brother snapping a picture of him, one he still has to this day. It was painful to see my dad in this condition, to the point that I didn't want to be around him too much because it killed me little by little. Its like seeing Superman getting his butt kicked by Doomsday to the point of death. It's not supposed to happen, my dad was supposed to live forever. We had hopped that he would get better, and latter I learned that he would have made a recovery but for one year.... one whole year the hospital gave him the wrong Kimo Therapy........
We got together as a family one last time with almost every one there, my brother Victor and my sister Lilia were living in Mexico so minus them the whole family was there, I remember being at my sister Claudia's house for dinner and she made green Mole, this is a Mexican plate that my dad loved, but because of that sores in his mouth and throat he was not able to eat it, I remember sitting there watching him looking at the food, as he looked at his plate of steamed chicken, his eyes watering up. I don't know what was going through his mind at that exact moment but one can only imagine. One of the simple pleasures of life, one my dad enjoyed so much, now was something he couldn't do because of this damn disease!
After dinner we all talked and the mood seemed not as tense or fragile, we now were more accepting of my fathers mortality, we expected this man to live well beyond his 80's but God had a different plan or task for him.
Knowing that you are on the verge of death, as a father, the thing you want to do the most is to be around those you love, to amend burned bridges, to resolve any broken bonds or past issues. My dad talked to every one, and I guess he did it from oldest to youngest because I remember going out side to get some air and he followed after. We sat on the front yard. My sister had a little bench against the wall of her garage facing the yard. It was a clear night with a slight chill, I remember this because my dad had his hat on, and what looked like a turtle neck sweater was a gray scarf wrapped all the way up just bellow his nose, he also had on a black coat. He did his best to keep from catching a cold as his immune system was lower than ever. Alone we sat there staring at the giant sky
We started talking and like my dad always would, he asked me how I was doing with money, back then I made abut 6 to 7 dollars an hour so my checks never lasted, I told him I was OK and told him not to worry about me to which he took his wallet out and try to hand me his last 20 dollar bill, I swiftly rejected the offer and told him that he needed it more, and I honestly was hurting for money but as irresponsible as I was back then I would not take that money from him, if I couldn't help him I didn't want to take from him. To which he replayed "Before you would ask me for money to fill up your car, to buy food, and now you wont take my last $20?", "But dad I know that you don't have any money left and I don't want to take it from you" I said, "Please take it" he said as his eyes watered up and his voice which I barely recognized started to crack from emotion, I could tell that the fact that I wouldn't take his money hurt him, I once, not to long ago depended on him for gas and food, clothing and now I didn't want to take his money because he was broke, broke from all the medical expenses and medicine. There sat a broken man, knowing his time was near and he did the best he could to give what little he had to his last child. A child he loved so much he would do everything in his power to give him all he wanted and needed. I recall my mother telling me once, "When you were born you father forgot he had other children" So how could I do this to him? he loved giving me everything, He looked at me once again and said "Take it" so I did.
This was the last conversation I had with my father face to face, it went on for a bit, him talking to me about life and telling me how much he loved me, I would never see him again. But I remember him for who he was. About 8 months latter I was told that he had passed away, I felt so bad, I had so much I wanted to tell him but couldn't, he was gone and I never would forgive myself for not being there for him when he needed me most. About 2 months after his death I had a dream, I was sleeping and as always he would come and sit on the edge of my bead to stare at me and wait till I opened my eyes to greet me. He was back to normal, just how I remembered him, strong with a head full of hair, with his swagger back, no traces of Kimo, I hugged him so hard I began to cry... "I love you so much dad, I miss you like crazy, I am so sorry for not calling as much as I should, I need you" he told me it was OK, that he loved me and that he was alright, no more pain. I woke up crying like a baby, I knew that God had let me say good by to my Hero, my Superman, for one last time...... I will see him again but not yet, not yet.
In loving memory of my father
Jose Joaquin Roura