Every little girl loves her daddy, to her he is like superman, he can do anything and fix everything and most of all he loves her. When I was a child my daddy usually worked two jobs, so I didn't get to see him a lot, but when he was home, I loved it. He was always smiling and a basically a happy person. Everywhere we went everyone knew and like "Little Joe", he talked and joked with everyone, it was like he loved life and people, I loved that about him.
As I grew up he didn't seem to smile as much and wasn't as friendly, I noticed changes but thought it was just him getting older, don't most people get grumpier as they get old? But then the forgetfulness was getting worse and we found out he had the beginning stages of Alzheimer's, that made me sad, I didn't want him loose him and didn't want him to forget me.
He lived in New Mexico and I live in Arizona, so I would go to visit him every few months, I wanted to make sure I got to see him while he still knew who I was. I also made it a point to call him once a week, usually on Saturday evening, and if I forgot, he would call me or have his fiancé call me because he was worried, he'd say, "something is wrong Audrey never forgets to call me", once we talked he was fine again.
As his disease progressed, it got harder and harder to see him fading away. Sometimes when I called him I could tell he didn't' really know who I was, but I knew who he was, and it was still important for me to talk to him. One evening when I called him, my sister said he was having a bad day and probably wouldn't know who I was, but I said it was ok, I still wanted to talk to him, and sure enough he didn't know who I was, we talked a few minutes and I could feel the tears welling up so I decided I better get off the phone before they came full force, and as I went to hang up, I said "I love you daddy" and he said "I love you too Mijita (that is what he called me, it means little daughter or little sweetie), I hung up and cried because I knew for that second he came back and he knew who I was.
One of the times I was visiting him, I could tell he wasn't sure who I was, and it was evident when I came home from the movies with my sisters, Dads helper was at the door waiting for us, he said Daddy was very upset and wanted to call Audrey because she hadn't called him and he knew something was wrong. His helper tried to explain that I was there visiting him and I was at the movies and I was ok, but daddy didn't' understand and kept wanting to call me and was pacing the floors upset. I felt so bad. My sister and I went into dads room and she tried to explained to him that I was Audrey and I was ok, at first he kept saying, "no, I need to call her", but after a while as he and I sat there talking, he finally understood that it was me, he said he was sorry and we both held each other and cried.
We knew daddy's time was coming to an end so my brother and I decided we needed to take a trip to NM. We got there in the evening and we could tell that dad wasn't doing well. It was late and my sister decided we each needed to all take shifts so he wouldn't be alone. I decided I would take the first shift. I sat and talked to daddy, held his hand, played his favorite songs for him from my cell phone (Un Dia a la Ves, Welcome to my World and Red River Valley). His breathing had been bad, but then I noticed his breathing got better as the songs played, and I told him that he was breathing better. I told him "it's ok to go home daddy, we will be ok, we will take care of each other", I said "I know Mom is here to take you home" and said "Hi Mom, I miss you". Then God put this in my heart, even though I had made my amends to dad years ago, I asked him to forgive me for any hurts I had caused him especially when I was a teenager, then I said "Daddy I forgive you", that must have been what he was waiting for, because he took his last breath and went home to be with Jesus.
I had hoped that dad and I could celebrate our birthdays together one last time, but instead this time it was a celebration of my birth and his life and we laid him to rest, that year he would celebrate his birthday with Jesus.
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