I still hear him. I was his baby. Even though I am the youngest of 2, along with a slew of older cousins, some younger, I was his Baby.
I remember one of our first nights together when he moved in, after he was diagnosed. I went out with a couple of friends and he waited up til’ about 5am. When I walked in he said, I can go to sleep now…don’t forget, no matter how old you are, I’ll always be your DAD.
I can’t pin point one reason as to why my dad was chosen to cross over. Maybe heaven needed new high hats, baseboard heating, some maintenance….who knows? What I do know is my dad was a man of many traits. He was a carpenter, a mechanic, a plumber, construction worker, boiler man, blueprint constructor, housing inspector…but before all that, he was a DAD. He was the best dad, in my eyes the SUPERMAN of Dads.
I remember when I was in elementary school, my teacher would always ask why I was so tired. She didn’t believe me when I would tell her I was on a service call all night with my dad and after he took me to get breakfast at a local diner. I remember the look on her face when I told her; my dad taught me how to repair a cracked boiler with oatmeal. She thought I had a vivid imagination until one day in December, her boiler needed maintenance. I gave her one of my dad’s business cards and told her, he works 24 hours…again she looked at me like I has 5 heads.
Later that night, my dad came home and asked me to take a ride with him. 20 minutes later, we were at my teachers house. When we walked in she was shocked I was with him. She asked me if my homework was done and if I ate. I let her know all my homework was done and checked, and I ate dinner twice.
As me and my dad worked together I could see her smile; she admired the bond we shared. After that day she took a liking to me and was impressed with my ability to work through the night, make it to class and complete my work assignment all while fighting my sleep.
Things took a turn for the worst later this year. It was March, I was waiting for my dad to pick me up to take me home from my grandmother’s house. Around 10:00 PM I remember my aunt waking me up. She said your dad won’t be making it tonight, come upstairs and lets go to sleep. I cried, I couldn’t understand what was going on. My dad, leave me behind!! We have work to do!! Where is he?? Then my aunt uttered, Sam, your dad was involved in an accident. A boiler exploded on him, he’s in surgery right now but don’t worry mama, he’s going to be okay. He’s fighting for you. I couldn’t breathe….MY Superman was hurt.
Due to the extensity of his burns, I was not allowed to see him. I would talk to him every so often but I couldn’t see my dad. So for about a month, I made a promise to him, I would excel in school and when he came home, show him all my hard work. Two months passed and he came home. I wanted so much to lay down with him and watch American Gladiators but I couldn’t. My dad confided himself to a room. He was depressed, in pain and didn’t want to be seen. The burns covered 50% of his body…and no matter what I did there wasn’t much I could do. At this age, I just wanted my dad to be back to normal, but it took some time. Little by little my dad would let me into the room to help him with his burns. He didn’t want me to see his burns but I knew in my heart if I rubbed this aloe my grandmother sent me home with every day on his belly, one day he will get up and no longer be ashamed of these burns.
A year later, he was back at work and guess who was now old enough to ride shot gun in the car?? ME
I always felt like my purpose was to take care of my dad. When he was diagnosed with stage 4 colon cancer, I told my family, he’s coming to live with me. I wanted to embark on this journey with him. I wanted to know his every move, every update, etc. For a year and 2 months, I, along with my family, watched our DAD put up a fight with Cancer.
It wasn’t easy. From Chemo, to radiation, to doctor’s appointments. I would wake up every two hours to check on him, we would stay up for hours and talk about everything. I miss that the most. I could talk to my dad about anything. He always loved to talk about LOVE and what his BABY deserved. One of our last conversations was about Love and how your partner is like a ball. He told me keep throwing that ball Sam, and if that same ball keeps coming back, then you know what to do. I said Dad, there’s this one ball I just want to throw and I don’t care if it comes back…he looked at me and said POP IT! There are a million balls out there, eventually the right ball will fall into your court and you will find your match. You are MY DAUGHTER, We have that gift!
My dad taught me soo many lessons, life hacks, and how to. I think I am the only girl I know that knows how to reset a boiler, fix a crack in a boiler with oatmeal and sweat a pipe. I value every minute we spent together. I promise myself that when I do decide to have children to make sure they learn how to work with their hands and talk like a salesman selling water to a well. I will forever treasure everything my father taught me and although his journey with cancer ended on July 27, 2016 at 4:20pm, his legacy will NEVER die.
My dad’s ability to work even throughout his treatments showed me how dedicated of a man he was. He always said NEVER STOP WORKING. He always pushed me and my sisters to be greater than what we already are. As he thinned out and the cancer took over, he still managed to keep a smile on his face and keep pushing. Even throughout his short stay in hospice, he made jokes and made all the nurses fall in love. My father was such a passionate man. He put his love for work and will to always want to provide before his health. He always wanted to make sure everyone around him had what they needed, no matter how bad he felt. My dad was your Modern day Superman….putting himself on the line to keep everyone safe and Happy.
I have been having a really rough time with him crossing over but a wise man told me, while his body is resting, his energy is always around. So don’t submit to the word DEATH, submit to the energy and the bond you and your father created. With that, he will FOREVER be with you. Spread the word wisely to everyone as well, take care of yourself! As this wise man recited this to me, all I though was….IS THIS A NEW BALL!
Thank you Dad. Thank you for all your support, advise, help, strength, personality but most of all…thank you for making me, YOUR BABY!
Samantha Lora Rodriguez,
Director of Community Outreach and Revitalization