I’ve been remembering my father quite a bit lately. Not that I had forgotten him and somehow stumbled across his memory. No, it’s more like I now have an inkling of the pain he must have felt, and I get it, or at least, I get some of it.
I still see him, in his later years, sitting at the dinning table in his wheelchair, a small glass of lukewarm water to his right (he sipped water all day), a bottle of tylenol to his left. He was always taking tylenol because of his headaches and my mother was always arguing with him that it was going to fry his liver. Or his kidneys. But he always took those small, white pills, in hopes of relieving a smidgen of the pain he was feeling, or maybe just in hopes of taking the edge off of the pain. His face was leathery, worn, and his eyebrows were more often than not scrunched up; he winced often. I imagine his whole body hurt, with deep aches and a never ending loneliness because of it. I imagine he missed his younger, healthier self. I do know he wished often to be taken in his sleep, so he could suffer no more.
Before the leg amputation that sentenced him to the wheelchair, his walk was slow, steady. He wouldn’t drive; instead, he’d take it to walking from our apartment, eight blocks south to Publix or eight blocks north to Navarro. Those were his daily outings. I remember walking with him, I was in my mid-teens, and trying to have conversations. As judgmental as he could be, my father was a talker and he’d talk to anyone who’d listen to him. At times, on the bench outside of Navarro, my father would sit, and whoever was sitting there would soon find himself/herself in a tete-a-tete about current world affairs or the downward spiral this country was facing.
Immediately following his amputation and after he’d outlived his hospital stay, he was in a recovery home for several weeks. We’d visit him every day, bringing in chicken, rice and beans from the nearby Pollo Tropical. There, we’d find my father rolling around in his wheelchair from room to room, chatting up the little ol’ ladies in the neighboring rooms. In between the groans and cries, you’d hear some laughter.
I do miss him. I see his character in my son, in his stubborn refusal for help or in his angry outbursts because something went wrong. I also see him in my son’s eyes – dark, round and bright with mischief and imagination.