Two years ago today, my dad passed away unexpectedly. This is something I almost exclusively talk about with family or close friends that knew Mapi, which means that many of my friends and acquaintances are unaware that I carry this with me. I don't precisely know why it is that I keep this close to me. I have a theory that it may be because I worry that if I bring this up, more questions may follow and I think that since my dad and I had such an amazing relationship built on trust, that I should continue to honor our special relationship whereby we could talk to each other and know that we were maintaining client-attorney priviledge.
My dad was so important for me in Albany. When I moved here, I was literally alone. I did not know anybody here, not even friends of friends of friends. I was a man on an island. I remember still on August 21, 2006, I was driving on Central Avenue towards the Downtown Campus with my mom in the car. My cell rang with a call from an "Unknown" number. I answered and was so happy to hear my dad's voice. I pulled in to the McDonald's on Central and we talked for a good 20 minutes. After that, my dad made it his business to call me about 5 times a week. I was never able to tell him how important those calls were for me in feeling company in this new place.
And our calls were so silly. I knew it was him calling all the time and I would answer with a folksy, "Hiiiiii Bob, how are ya?" And he would say something corny in his broken English, like, "Hiiii Nick, Welllllllllllll, I fine, I fine." I am so happy that on this day, two years ago, he did call me. It was a Sunday afternoon and I was lying on the carpet in my apartment - I don't know why - and we talked for our typical 20 minutes. I still remember that conversation, and most importantly, I remember that the last things we said to each other were, "Chau, te quiero." That gives me a lot of consolation on days like today. My sister was not so lucky. She was in a conference that day, and was not able to take his call. He was the one who got her into soccer - since he needed somebody to kick the ball around with when I was at school - and she, in turn, started a soccer team for Liberian refugees that carries our pet name for him.
I think a lot about a lot of things that my dad missed out on life. He missed out on my graduation from graduate school and the great job I got. He missed out on my sister's graduation from college, and her trip to Ghana. He never had grandchildren, and that upsets me because he would have been an amazing grandfather, and I am so upset that my kids will miss out on him. He would have been the type of grandfather that would completely spoil his grandkids. That really bothers me a lot, even to the point that I am more upset about what my kids missed out than what I missed out on. I think about all the things I will tell my kids about their Nono.There is some consolation on days like this. When I look back on pictures and think about my time with him, I come to the conclusion that even in the short time we had together, we soaked up almost every minute of it. It was difficult that he lived in Argentina. But, even so, those precious few moments we had together were not spoiled one bit. That helps me sleep at night because I think that my dad knows how much my sister and I loved him and that even though we were very far and did not have him at hand that it did not mean he was absent from our lives.
I love him so much, and miss him so much, and I miss his phone calls so much. He was my consiglieri. I am so sad I was not there for him at that moment. But Mapi, no te hecho la culpa de nada, Viejo. Entiendo, entiendo todo ahora. Fuiste una gran persona y nunca voy a terminar de necesitarte.