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My Dear Daddy
Daddy was obviously in horrible shape; his feet swollen and his bald head could prove that. Hospice workers had been running in and out of the house for days. Family was stopping by constantly; even my aunt and uncle in Texas came to help us out. The hospital bed in the living room that he lay in was proof that the cancer had won the battle. In my school planner, I wrote on the 2nd of November, for that week through the 8th, “This week will be a good week.” But, so far, it was anything but.
I woke up and became ready for school as if it was any other morning. I hugged Daddy for what would be the last time and said, “I love you.”
He didn’t reply, for his mind was already gone. He was in so much pain. He was only 43.
School was very normal, although I felt as though a lead weight was upon my heart. I don’t believe I even smiled at all that day.
I had all of my cheerleading equipment ready in my cheer bag. As they called for us to load the bus to cheer for the boy’s basketball game, the school counselor, Mrs. Apodaca, pulled me aside. She said to me, “You are leaving for the day; someone came to pick you up.”
I could only manage an “Okay.” I knew what I was being picked up for. I felt my throat close, and I knew the tears would be pouring soon.
I saw my mother’s face out of the window of the Toyota. I climbed in the truck, and immediately said, “He’s gone, huh?” Nodding, my mom pulled me into a very tight embrace, conjoining in sobbing sorrow.
Caleb, my brother, had no clue why we came to pick him up. He looked very confused, until he saw the looks on our faces. His tears came out like the first rain of a monsoon season; quick to come and lasting for hours.
Very slowly, I opened the screen and regular doors leading to the laundry room. I was very reluctant to enter the house to see the shell of my former father, but my curiosity got the better of me. I went into the living room, and, on that same hospital bed, laid my daddy. His eyes were half open, along with a half smile. He almost had the same ornery expression he had most of his life. I cried. Caleb was bawling and lying on his chest. Mom and I started talking to the body, as if he were still alive. Finally, the people from the morgue came to take him away. One of my aunts had arrived at the house to say her good-byes. We watched daddy’s body be rolled toward the hearse. I went into my room and brushed my hair to calm the stress. Already, depressing feelings were consuming my body.
One of my great aunts from Denver rushed down as soon as she heard the awful news. She, my mom, and I talked on the patio. Almost out of nowhere, a small airplane came swooping down over our heads, at a very low flight. We all thought that it was a strange coincidence for that to happen on that particular day.
Nearly all of my relations from my daddy’s side were over at the house, and some of my mother’s side came too. Mom had poured water for everyone, and we all were taking turns telling stories. My daddy’s sister, or my aunt, told one that had happened while my uncle was working at my late great grandmother’s house. Daddy called her house and asked “Is Ralph there?”
My great grandmother replied, “Welfare? I don’t need any welfare!”
And the conversation must have went on like that until my great grandmother finally gave up on convincing my daddy that she refused to be on welfare.
That very unfortunate day has changed my views of everything I do. I don’t know quite yet if that is a blessing or a curse, but almost two years ago, the path that I walk on was paved in a different pattern because of my dear daddy.