Stopped in at my parents this evening after running some errands. As I walked into the living room my father sat there in his big recliner. His hair was all disheveled, thinning still, and when I leaned down to give him a hug and a kiss I noticed that his skin was damp from perspiration.
I asked y father how he was feeling. His response was simple, “If I didn’t have this pain in the front of my stomach, I would be fine. It is still hard and it just hurts.”
I asked if the pain medicine seemed to be helping at all. He said that it was. He indicated that he is feeling more comfortable, still not able to eat all that much, but at least being able to sleep.
I recall seeing a small corner of a bologna sandwich wrapped in a plastic bag on the counter. I also saw a McDonald’s Filet o Fish with only a bite out of it in the refrigerator when I grabbed a diet coke.
I assumed both were his based on our dialogue.
My father said he had to get up and use the rest room. When he stepped out, he proceeded back into his bedroom. I could hear shuffling around as if he was looking for something. I went into his room to check on him and found him rummaging through his drawers. I asked him what he was looking for and he responded, “I have a few things I want to make sure you have and I need to find them.”
I told him not to worry about it now. He responded sternly, “I want to make sure it is done. Go sit down.”
Shortly after I sat down, he came back in with the following items.
The first item is the blue ceramic bottle in the back. I remember this growing up. It is a bottle of powder that used to belong to his mother. She happened to pass away when my father was 15 years of age. It is one of the only things that he still has that belonged to his mother. I remember growing up that every now and again, on special occasions, that my father would open it and let me put a little on. The smell was refreshing, clean, cool, and it made me picture what my grandmother may have looked like when she was alive.
The gold chain and medallion is something that he purchased on a family vacation when we were in Cancun. I remember him and I looking all over to find the right medallion. We went off beaten path away from downtown Cancun, deep into the city, and found a jewelry store that had what he was looking to buy. I remember them speaking very fast with one another, and negotiating dollars. Spanish is my fathers primary language.
The silver bracelet is one that he had bought for me when I was in high school and he had kept.
The other item is a travel packet that we would pack with us to make sure that if anything happened we had a miraculous medal, a palm, and a bit of holy water. It is part of our faith as Catholics, again, something that has always been at the center of our lives.
In addition, my father also came out with this and handed it to me:
This is a medallion that I remember my father always wearing. He got this while he was in the Marines, prior to his first tour in Viet Nam. It is something that my father had blessed. It was a medallion of the Virgin Mary and he felt very strongly that it helped to protect, guide, and keep him safe. I have to say that I believe it did as well. Two separate tours in Viet Nam, action both times, traveling around the world, working as a blue collar laborer in factories for many years, and just the normal day to day trials and tribulations that arise in ones life.
I don’t think I ever remember a time when he did not have it on. He asked me to come over to him. He placed it over my head. I placed it into my shirt next to my skin as he always wore it. I could feel that it hung a lot lower on me than it did on him. My father at his prime had a 50″+ chest, 18″ arms, and was solid like a linebacker. The medallion just drops way below my chest.
My father kisses me and gives me a hug. My father then says, “This medallion has kept me safe for over 43 years. Wear it, never take it off, and it will keep you safe. I will always be with you.”
My mother begins to sob. My father cries. I begin to cry as well.
My father wipes the tears away and begins to speak again, “Son, you need to remember that even though I may not physically be here, I will still be walking this earth. I am part of you. As long as you are here, and any offspring that you have, I will always still be walking this earth. Know I will always be watching over you, protecting you, and guiding you from above. Before you act, always ask yourself, ‘what would your father tell you to do?'”
Again we are all weeping.
After a few more moments and conversation, my father says he needs to go to bed and rest. It is now dark outside.
I give him a kiss and a hug. We hug as if neither of us want to let go of one another. We both say, “I love you.”
My mother says to me that she is afraid that my father is giving up.
My response is that this is his story.
I do not believe my father is giving up.
Today my father is focused on writing about control. My father is ensuring those things that have meaning to him go to specific people. My father wants to ensure that the story goes along with the item to the person receiving the gift. My father wants to be the one to deliver the story. My father is focusing on what he has control over today.
My father has regained some of his power in this situation.
As always, you can feel free to contact me at: CANCERGEEK@GMAIL.COM
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