As I step into the family room of my childhood, I would return to when I was 17 years old and my Father was home for the longest he had ever been home with us. Unfortunately, the reason for his long stay was because he was diagnosed with brain cancer and had, had surgery. He was given a time frame to live and it wasn’t years, but barely a month or so.
You might be wondering why I would return to that time? You see, my father was a Doctor and as a Doctor; he never truly belonged to us. My father would arrive home late evening and be off before my sister and I were out of bed for school. Summer vacations were rarely taken together as Dad had to work and if he joined us, it would be for two weeks. Those two weeks would be spent not just with us but visiting all his family that lived in the Dominican Republic.
I remember the family room, it still looks about the same. The wood paneling with the dark, dark shag carpet. The furniture was also wood back then, and the sofa cushions looked like they were crocheted with the same dark tones found in the paneling. The sofa is gone, but the matching rocking chair is still there. The rocking chair that Dad used to sit in and watch baseball, which didn’t happen very often.
My last memory of him in the rocking chair was when I was cutting his fingernails, he lost some of his vision with the removal of most of the tumor; so I would take care of that for him. He would be so angry about having to have someone else do for him, he was a man use to his independence. It broke his heart that his own daughter had to take care of those little things we take for granted everyday.
As I cut his fingernails or read to him from his books, it was the first time I had felt like he didn’t see a curly haired little girl that he had nothing in common with but rather someone he could talk to about life and about what he liked. I knew baseball was important to him. I knew he had his own spiritual beliefs and that although he loved medicine; he felt that it owned him and his time and he didn’t want that for us.
My father and I were both the introverts in the family so a lot was not spoken between us, but understood. We would watch TV together and not talk about anything, just be. After the show was over, we would share our thoughts and continue with our day.
I would love to go back to that family room as the 40 year old Mom of two and show him pictures of his grandchildren. To let him know that I listened to him when he said find your calling and follow it as long as it makes you happy. Tell the ones you love, you love them. He had so much to think about at that time, and the 17 year old in front of him had no idea.
The family room defines that relationship to me, one that was cut short but made a lasting impression.