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Wednesday, December 26, 2012

I do this for my father too.


 My dad was a target of workplace bullying.  My dad had a heart attack.  My dad died.
 My dad died when he was 55 years old.  That’s the age I am as I write this.  He died during open heart surgery.  He died even though he and we were given a 98 percent probability of his making it through the operation.  He did not.  He became a 2 percent statistic. 
 Showering that morning before we left the house—the house I inherited and still own—I remember the “What if he dies?” question sliding across my brain. I remember, too, at the hospital that morning, my mother standing at the end of my dad’s bed nervously and silently rubbing his toes. I remember my father joking about this being a “helluva way to lose weight.”  He’d not been permitted to eat anything for a good long while because he was scheduled for surgery. 
 Some memories are just so clear; Dad’s dry lips for one; the hospital staff's annoying perkiness for another. I just wanted to slap them. It wasn't their fault.  In my anxious state, I wanted to slap everyone.  
 The day of my father’s death, my mom and I arrived at the hospital early.  It was cold.  It was dreary.  Thankfully,  there was no snow.  January 28, 1983. It was my brother Eric’s 18th birthday. Dad had been in a hospital in Columbus, Ohio for a few days. He was scheduled for by-pass surgery.
 Dad had had a heart attack in December.  We didn’t know the Christmas of 1982 would be our last together.  We didn’t know that our amusement at the “father and son” fishing poles my “not-yet-but-in-a-few-years-would-be" husband had purchased as gifts for Dad and Eric would be my husband’s last effort at gift purchasing for my dad. Thankfully my husband, then fiancé, with the matching fishing poles, put a smile on Dad’s face. 
 Even though I knew my dad was ill and would soon have this “cut-you-open-from-neck-to-abdomen” operation, I just never expected he would actually die.  Those were selfish and naive expectations; a "God’s going to do exactly what I tell him to do” kind of attitude.   His last words that day in the hospital to me when they had come to get him to roll him down the corridor to the operating room were “Vaya con dios.” 
 My dad used to robustly sing a song with the words..... “vaya con dios, my darling...”  That’s all I remember right now.  But in my mind’s eye I can see my dad strumming his guitar.  His eyes are closed as he first tunes the guitar.  
 “Kim,” he’d say.  “Help me here.”  And I would choose notes on the piano—hold them down one at a time with my foot on the piano’s pedal—as he turned the tuning keys of his guitar this way and that until he was satisfied with the sound.  
 My mind’s eye has us in the front room of our small Ohio house.  I see the windows open, so it must be summer.  
  “Kim, sing with me...” And off he and I would go to the west Texas town of El Paso. We’d find ourselves at Rosa’s cantina where my dad and I, in our Ohio living room, would dance with a Mexican girl named Felina.  We both loved that girl—even though apparently she’d “done us wrong....”  Before you knew it we’d gotten mad; defended her honor; shot a man, and found ourselves running from the law.  
 It was a lot of fun.  Felina was worth it.
 I studied Spanish in college.  My dad loved that.  He also questioned just what in the world I would actually do with a degree in Spanish.  I hadn’t yet moved to Miami.  I hadn’t yet become a flight attendant.  I hadn’t yet taken the life lessons he and my mother had taught me and applied them to my own life.
 Dad just liked showing off his Spanish speaking daughter.  He also loved showing off his own Spanish to me. Somewhere in his stint in the military, he’d learned a few phrases. "Donde estan mis ordenes?" he’d randomly state.  'Paseme el azookar!"
 "....Vaya con dios, my darling...", as he was wheeled down the corridor to the operating room.  
Last words.  Good Bye Dad.
 Workplace bullying contributed directly to my dad’s death.  Maybe it outright killed him.  I'll be writing more about that.
Until then,
 Words to "El Paso":
 Out in the West Texas town of El Paso
 I fell in love with a Mexican girl.
 Night-time would find me in Rosa's cantina;
 Music would play and Felina would whirl.

 Blacker than night were the eyes of Felina,
 Wicked and evil while casting a spell.
 My love was deep for this Mexican maiden;
 I was in love but in vain, I could tell.

 One night a wild young cowboy came in,
 Wild as the West Texas wind.
 Dashing and daring,
 A drink he was sharing
 With wicked Felina,
 The girl that I loved.

 So in anger I...

 Challenged his right for the love of this maiden.
 Down went his hand for the gun that he wore.
 My challenge was answered in less than a heart-beat;
 The handsome young stranger lay dead on the floor.

 Just for a moment I stood there in silence,
 Shocked by the FOUL EVIL deed I had done.
 Many thoughts raced through my mind as I stood there;
 I had but one chance and that was to run.

 Out through the back door of Rosa's I ran,
 Out where the horses were tied.
 I caught a good one.
 It looked like it could run.
 Up on its back
 And away I did ride,

 Just as fast as I...

 Could from the West Texas town of El Paso
 Out to the bad-lands of New Mexico.

 Back in El Paso my life would be worthless.
 Everything's gone in life; nothing is left.
 It's been so long since I've seen the young maiden
 My love is stronger than my fear of death.

 I saddled up and away I did go,
 Riding alone in the dark.
 Maybe tomorrow
 A bullet may find me.
 Tonight nothing's worse than this
 Pain in my heart.

 And at last here I...

 Am on the hill overlooking El Paso;
 I can see Rosa's cantina below.
 My love is strong and it pushes me onward.
 Down off the hill to Felina I go.

 Off to my right I see five mounted cowboys;
 Off to my left ride a dozen or more.
 Shouting and shooting I can't let them catch me.
 I have to make it to Rosa's back door.

 Something is dreadfully wrong for I feel
 A deep burning pain in my side.
 Though I am trying
 To stay in the saddle,
 I'm getting weary,
 Unable to ride.

 But my love for...

 Felina is strong and I rise where I've fallen,
 Though I am weary I can't stop to rest.
 I see the white puff of smoke from the rifle.
 I feel the bullet go deep in my chest.

 From out of nowhere Felina has found me,
 Kissing my cheek as she kneels by my side.
 Cradled by two loving arms that I'll die for,
 One little kiss and Felina, good-bye. 

7:17 am est          Comments

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