Anonymous – College of Arts & Sciences
My dad was an a very different man…at least that’s what I’m told. I don’t remember much of my childhood, but I do remember a couple of instances that showed me just how special he was and the deepness of his kindness. It was when we lived in Mexico, I remember we were walking through a street market and suddenly the man in front of us unknowingly dropped his wallet. My dad sped up to pick it up and I thought for sure he would keep it or at least keep the money, but instead he started walking even faster and returned it to the man. It may not seem like a big deal, but to a me, it was really amazing. That single incident was like my dad trying to teach me what kind of person I should be without actually telling me.
Another vivid memory of my dad is when he used to pray with my sister and I every night. Before we went to sleep he would come over and sit by our bedside and recite prayers. We would thank God for all that he had given us and pray for other things to be better. That simple action made me the person I am today, I never take anything for granted and I thank God for everything, even the imperfect things in life.
My dad was is an amazing man…but that fateful night of April 1998 changed him forever. He was rushed to the hospital, leaving my sister terrified as I remained sound asleep. I remember waking up the next morning to my cousin Julie burning breakfast in the kitchen. I asked where my parents were and was told they were at the grocery store. I was only a little girl, but I could tell she was lying. A blinking red light from the answering machine would confirm my doubts. I pushed the button, “Julie, don’t tell her what happened.”
The night it happened was an ordinary night. My dad was a construction worker and always came home tired, so it wasn’t unusual that he had a headache and wanted to call it an early night. Since I was only five years old at the time I only remember a few details. I remember having dinner and my dad sitting on the floor watching TV while my pregnant mom got his plate ready. We had beef stew that night, my dad’s favorite and a usual at our house. After dinner he went straight to bed, as did my sister and I. My mom was still in the kitchen getting ready for the next day. Between washing dishes and preparing my dad’s lunch, she walked over to the room where she assumed we were all safe and sleeping. She soon realized how wrong she was. My dad was anything but ok, he looked like he was asleep but when my mom turned on the light and took a closer look, she could see his white eyes wide opened and foam streaming down his mouth. Panicked, she raced over to my dad and attempted to turn his large body over but failed, as he was much heavier than her and her pregnant belly only made it more difficult. She struggled, but she was finally able to turn him around. By that time she had managed to wake my sister who was sleeping on the bed next to my dad. Her next move was even harder than the first. Hysterical, my mother dials 9-1-1 and makes an effort to communicate with the non-Spanish speaking operator on the other end.
The minutes went by like years to my distressed mom, but the paramedics finally arrived. She unwillingly drug my sister into this awful situation, asking her to go open the door for the paramedics. My sister was hesitant because she was scared of the dark so my mom told her to stay with our dad as she ran to the door. The paramedics came in and took my sister and mom out of the room immediately. The last thing they saw was my dad being rushed out.
My dad had suffered from a massive brain aneurysm; blood had crept its way into every part of his head. He went into surgery and the doctors were able to stop the bleeding, but the damage was severe. After I heard that message on the answering machine, I demanded to know the truth. My cousin Julie gave in and told me everything. I remember bursting into tears, terrified I would never see my dad again. I began to pray like he had taught me.
Two months later tragedy struck again. The stress and anxiety of the unknown sent my mom into early labor. My mom gave birth to a less than 12 inches long, two pound baby boy. Like my dad, the doctors had no hope that my little brother would survive. He was born at only five and a half months gestation and was nowhere near full development. His lungs and heart were giving up along side any hope my mom once had.
For weeks, I saw my mom rush from one hospital to the next visiting my dad and my brother while my sister and I spent the night at countless different houses. My brother was the first to come home, but was quickly sent back to the hospital due to heart complications. My dad finally woke up after two months and I witnessed his struggle to remember what a TV was called. “Change the fork!” he would holler as he attempted to tell us to change the TV station.
Weeks passed and my dad and little brother were finally released from the hospital. We thought our struggles were finally over, but we soon realized they had just begun and they were probably never going to end. My dad was now disabled; he could not move the right side of his body, much less go back to his construction job. He couldn’t remember simple sentences or words and his past had been nearly completely wiped out of his memory. Feeling hopeless and useless to his family, my dad went into a chronic depression. It was clear that we could not let him drag us into this depression cycle with him. We needed to overcome this tragedy in order to help him get better and help ourselves regain as much as we could from the family we once had.