“The house, it’s very good.”
“Yes, Dad, it is.”
“The floor, it’s very solid.” Dad was pointing to the faded linoleum at his feet and extended his arm, following the ghost of a trail that, ironically, would have ended somewhere near his bedroom, where he was supposed to be. It was my turn to make sure he made it to bed.
“It’s a very good house.”
“Yes, Dad, I’m very happy for you, you should be very proud. It’s a solid house for you and Mom to live in, how wonderful.”
“And I have more over there,” he motioned past the back door, toward Elsa, the sister city of Edcouch, Texas where I grew up. “Something over there and I have it.”
“Yes, Dad, property. Houses where other people can live in. You are a very good landlord, so good to the people, Dad.”
“Yes .. this is a very good house.”
We talked this way for about 10-15 minutes. It may have been circular, it may have extended beyond Dad trying to remember where he lived and that he had something else beyond these four walls he was responsible for. He may have mentioned the house he owned next door where I grew up, I can’t remember. But I pray I can remember. I want to believe I wrote it down somewhere, understanding in that moment, the urgency of Dad’s memory leaving him. It was calling out to me that night as we sat there, I know I sensed something going, saying goodbye. So, I have to believe I wrote parts of our conversation down somewhere. Even all those years ago, I carried a notebook. I always carried a notebook. But to find that notebook, if there is a notebook, that would mean a day-long, even week-long search. Of all I’ve seen and face, I don’t think I’m ready to find a notebook from that time period and discover nothing in it, so I tease myself into remembering parts of our conversation, believing the rest will come to me. As long as I have the golden key of the conversation, the rest will come. The rest will come.
“Dad, it’s time for bed. Mama wants you in bed, let me take you.”
“Yes, I have to go.”
“Let me help you up… I had fun talking with you, Dad.”
“Si, mijita.” (that means, yes, my daughter)
I kept a slow pace with him as he slowly made his way on his walker past his recliner, out of the den, and into the kitchen. At the bar, I stopped to look at the knick-knacks and various religious tchotchkes Mom had hung for him. One of them was his prayer ring.
“Oh, Dad, this is beautiful, I remember this!”
“You want it, mijita? Take it, it’s yours.”
“No, Dad, I can’t take your stuff. You keep it.”
“Ok.. but, anything you want, I’ll give you all this and more.”
My Dad’s last Words of Self to me. I would see him another day, but those were cursory exchanges, told in the mix of everyone and the day passing with children underfoot. These, these were for me. He didn’t say my name at all that night, but in the words he spoke, there was me in his voice.
I will never forget.
I love you, Dad.