Saturday, July 2, 2011
MyPod Shuffle #2 - As I Lay Me Down
Sophie Hawkins wrote this in memory of her father and it reminds me of my father, Uncle Ruben. My mother divorced when I was very young, and the only father figure I knew was her brother Ruben. We went to live at my grandmother's home after my parent's divorce, and Uncle Ruben was the bachelor son still living at home. I can't remember a time when he wasn't there.
Some of my earliest memories are of fishing with him. Stream, lake, ocean, you name it, we fished it. My first fish that I remember was a five pound halibut caught off of Dana Point jetty. Uncle Ruben baited the pole, cast the line, and handed it to me to sit and wait while he set up his own pole just a few feet away. Within a few minutes I felt the pole suddenly dip and almost pull out of my hand. I screamed out and held onto the pole for dear life as the fish started pulling on the line.
Uncle Ruben and a few other close-by fishermen came running over thinking something had happened to me. Then he realized I had a fish on the line. He laughed and told me to hold the pole tight while he grabbed the net. He made his way down toward the waterline then slowly explained to me how to reel in the fish. I was five, but I worked that fish the way I would now work a marlin in the open ocean. We landed that fish, and he proudly held it up for me to see while the other fishermen congratulated us for the catch.
Over the years we went fishing often. After I left home for college, we still managed to get together for Father's Day and go on a fishing trip. Those trips were full of seeing who would catch the first fish, the biggest fish, the most fish. Sometimes we'd spend the day talking politics or current events, other times I would ask his advice about a particular problem I might be having. Even when his health deteriorated from the effects of diabetes and a kidney transplant, he still managed to make it to our yearly trip.
In pain, and at times not feeling 100% he made it to my medical school graduation. Little did I know that less than a year later he would die while I was finishing my intern year; only about 3 weeks to go until Father's Day. I was leaving the hospital and had the sudden urge to call home. My mother said my aunt had just called to say that Uncle Ruben had been taken to the hospital unresponsive. I called the hospital and my aunt told the doctor that I was Uncle Ruben's daughter, and he could tell me what was happening. As I heard the doctor tell me about the cardiac arrest code he was running, I knew Uncle Ruben wasn't going to survive.
I don't know that I really heard this song until after he died. And it gave me such hope about still being with someone even though they'd passed, and the thought that one day we will see each other again. I still ask him for advice. I still thank him for things he taught me. I still love and miss my dad, Uncle Ruben.