My Father

Written by: Vickie Ortiz Vazquez

Mi Padre, 2012
V. Ortiz Vazquez ©

Bears the mark since child birth
Incognito until childhood
Development blocks transformed part of his destiny
Twin brother carries the severe load
Not only does he stumble when speaking but also when walking
Both deteriorating with the passing of
Seconds, minutes, hours
Days, weeks, months, years

To remember the days when family went out for a jog
To ride the memory lanes when outings took us to the mountains
Rivers
Lechón Asado
Monitas, Crab hunting
Mud beyond the ankles
To peddle through strange terrain brings the day you taught me how to ride my bike
Hanging on the tree’s branches
Result of your way of teaching
“You have two choices; break or crash,” you said

Remember my swimming training?
“You either swim or drown,” you stated as you threw me into the deep waters
To this day, panic comes when I cannot touch the floor
Next stage in my life a new lesson
To learn how to drive
18 was I, a family friend my teacher this time
Keeping in mind the words you said to me once
“If you want to learn how to drive, watch what I do”
So many words yet no practical techniques with them

Formal education left you at an early age
Life’s education provided you with lifelong lessons
Handy man you became
Trick of trades pass down to you
Childhood road blocks no impediments to you
Sharp mind even when learning was tough at times
Hands no stranger to hard labor
No competition to formal education
Building your life’s traveling path one block at a time
First, you stole my mom
Your wife
Second, came my brother
Then, me and my sister
To wake one day to learn of your demise
Explanation to the changes within you
No longer active
Your hands no longer take pleasure of fixing things
Captive between four walls
Your mind
Diagnosis of schizophrenia
Johnny, Christian, Vadeline, Carlitos, Chadwick, Cody
How long until you can no longer enjoy grandchild’s laugh?
Touch?
Conversations?

Cheated you were, are
Compensated with a wife, children, grandchildren
Nurture with richness of a simple man
Patiently I wait until the next time you say, “Tonta. Así no se hace”
And, in your father’s role explain to me what I already know
Don’t seem to understand
To call you later and ask for your handy hands
No time of waiting
Refuse to part with slipping mind
Sharp hands