Hello, Love
Published in

Hello, Love

Whispered Confession: Dad’s Last Day

I see my dad in front of me, the hospital bed envelops his body, crisp white linens tucked up to his chest, his arms out to his sides, resting on the sheets, palms up. Eyes closed, his mouth shaping an unnatural “O” around the tube pushing air into his lungs. The quietness of the room, the stillness, allowed me entrance, gave way to my steps as I approached Dad. I extend my left hand and place it under his right hand, folding my fingers over his, pressing gently. I scoot closer. Leaning in, I cup the side of Dad’s face with my left hand and pat back the soft grays of his temples with my right, and kiss him softly on his forehead, and once more.

Dad after his bath

“I love you, Dad,” I hear myself say. And it doesn’t sound strange, this whispered confession. This is no secret, I’m thinking, still caressing Dad’s face, smiling this time and saying, “Dad, it’s me, your number three!” and I hear some laughter from the other family members in the room. It doesn’t wake or rouse him, though. Dad doesn’t suddenly sense my presence and squeeze my hand, nor does he open his eyes. I sit down next to Aunt Kathy, and we find ourselves staring into Dad’s face as if it has all the answers we’ve ever needed.

Christmas Conversation with Dad

The priest comes and says his blessings, asks us to pray for Rosendo “Roy” Mauricio, and help him find his way home. Home, he says. The attending physician enters the room, adjusts the morphine drip, nods to me, “It won’t be long.” We all inch closer to the bed. Speechless. Stunned. It’s 4:50 pm on Sunday, December 19, 2010, and Dad is gone.

At the foot of his bed, I can’t stop looking at his face, the same face that I see, that I saw at his kitchen table on West Lafayette, decades ago, playing poker with his brothers, beckoning everyone to place their bets and “Get this show on the road!” Dad sees me enter the kitchen through the rounded doorway, suddenly stands and throws out his arms in mock surprise and shouts, “Ruby-Duby-Doo!,” ( his silly nickname for me) and says: “ I love you, kiddo!” And I remember how my face felt then, how I could feel that smile, his smile becoming mine. Dad hugs me and I feel his strong arms encompassing me , holding me. I have his full Mauricio-lips, his brown eyes, his heartbreaking hugs. And it’s those heartbreaking hugs that will stay with me always. Always.

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