|The Daddy, mid-1970s. |
My favorite photo of him.
Twenty-nine years ago on this day, the Daddy died from a heart attack. He was 76 years old.
Maybe he didn't pick how or where he died, but I think he was happy it wasn't at home where the Mama would've come home to find him after a long, tiring day at work. He was always protective of her.
That day the Daddy decided to go to lunch at the senior center with his good friend Danny, one of the godfathers of mine. The Daddy hadn't been there for quite a long while. He hadn't been feeling well, but those last three days, I was told, he'd been going strong, visiting, babysitting, doing so many of the things he liked to do.
So, there he was sitting at the lunch table. He was bending down for a spoon on the floor, I was told. He was there longer than he should have been. "Hey, 'Pare (short for compadre), what you doing down there?" called a friend. Then, a scramble to get help for the Daddy. That was it.
While the Daddy was dying, I was sitting in a restaurant over 100 miles away with my new colleagues. It was a lunch to greet the new editors, another woman and myself. All of a sudden, I felt a shiver and a flush go through my body. A feeling of sadness, then relief, then joy. I figured at the time it was just the emotion of having finally been hired to my dream job. Nothing more.
Back at the office, I was told by the company president that the Daddy had died. Later, when I thought back at that moment, I knew it was the Daddy floating by to say good-bye one last time.
Today, the husband and I bought a pot of gardenias for the Mama. She has been a widow for 29 years. Flowers are nice for graves. They are so much nicer for the living.
The spirit of Daddy, I am sure, is having himself a ball right now.