Editor’s Note: Louis Foglia is a writer / producer on CNN. The opinions expressed in this comment are yours. See more opinion on CNN.
. – I wrote a draft of my father’s obituary the night of March 30.
He had been on a respirator for 11 days. The treating doctor in the intensive care unit had called that morning and asked if they should include a do-not-resuscitate order in my father’s recommendation table. They had already asked before. I was undecided. A successful resuscitation would prolong his life. But it could also cause brain damage.
Now, various organ systems were failing. They needed an answer.
“What are the odds that he will survive?” It was the first time I had allowed myself that question.
If you continue in this direction, he said, “We are talking about a single-digit chance of survival.”
I was in the backyard of my mother’s house in the Bronx, New York. She quickly rushed him to the hospital after his mild covid-19 symptoms quickly turned into breathing problems. Since then he has been quarantined with his own mild symptoms; I couldn’t smell or taste. My brother, uncle, and I sat on his back porch every day and kept him company by the window. We avoided contact, wore masks, and used bottles of hand sanitizer. No one had entered the house since their quarantine began.
I suspected that my father had a will and a health care directive inside the home. I put on the mask but couldn’t find a clean pair of latex gloves in my canvas bag. It was cold in the backyard. He had a pair of leather gloves. I put them on and entered my childhood home for the first time in weeks. My mother barely noticed my presence. She was crying on the sofa.
I entered my father’s office and opened his filing cabinet. It was for the alphabet. I found a file labeled “Will”. There were several documents inside. I found out that my father was planning to leave me his law school ring. I had prepared myself for this grim search, for this whole nightmare of weeks, but that revelation took my breath away. I kept looking. I found the health care addresses. It was clear. Do not resuscitate.
I was relieved, we wouldn’t have to make what seemed like an impossible decision, but I kept reading. My father had noted that he did not want to be held by a respirator or connected to a feeding tube for an extended period of time. He had been connected to both for almost two weeks. He had been the point of contact with the hospital and I approved every element of his medical care. I was overwhelmed with guilt. I started to sob.
My outburst took my mother to the home office. There was pain on his face, but also curiosity. What had finally happened to her youngest son, who rarely showed emotion during his father’s hospitalization? I couldn’t articulate the words. She started to cry. We couldn’t touch each other. We couldn’t hug each other.
I took a deep breath and continued to flip through the file. There was a copy of my father’s resume and a five-page summary of his career. I laughed. Just like my dad. I wanted him to have the correct materials to write his obituary.
I called the hospital and approved the DNR. They told me that his condition was still serious. I called my father’s closest friends and started preparing them for the worst. It was like reliving the most difficult phone call of my life ten times. I drove an hour and 10 minutes home to be with my wife. I went upstairs and started writing.
He had been calling the hospital at least twice a day, at half past twelve and again at 8:30 at night. Sometimes the hospital called me, never with good news. We have to add a center line for the drops, do you approve? You need a blood transfusion, do you consent? We want to put it in vasopressors. OK, whatever you think.
The possibility of these calls turned my cell phone into a kind of improvised explosive device. My phone was ringing, my stomach was falling. I also knew that my family and friends were afraid of the calls they received from me.
What horror was going to happen now?
I have a habit of texting my brother before calling him: “About to call. It is not bad news. ”
Four days after my father entered NewYork-Presbyterian Lawrence Hospital in Bronxville, New York, I received a call from the treating doctor. It was early in the evening. I was at home with my wife.
My father’s lungs showed no signs of progress. The double pneumonia they diagnosed days earlier was getting worse. Her kidneys were failing. Dialysis was required, but it would put pressure on her blood pressure, which was already dangerously low. There was a special form of dialysis designed for delicate situations like this: continuous venous hemofiltration, but it was not available in Lawrence. A sister hospital, NewYork-Presbyterian / Columbia in Manhattan, had a CVVH. Did we want to be transferred?
“Let’s do it.”
How was I going to explain all this to my mother?
I called. “Good news, they are transferring him to NewYork-Presbyterian / Columbia. They have more resources there and a special machine that will help them with their kidneys. “
What about your kidneys?
I looked for a euphemism for kidney failure. What is a non-scary way of saying dialysis?
I could only think of the truth. I told.
Are they just going to take him there? It is safe?
They think so.
A nurse called again half an hour later. “We can transfer your father tonight,” he said. But you should know that this carries considerable risk.
Is it possible that I die during transport?
“I don’t think it will, but that’s a possibility.”
She explained that my father’s respirator would have to travel with him. It was a precarious situation.
“I get it. When will you get to Columbia? “
She said it would take an hour and a half. I told my family that it would take two hours.
I saw the clock. I called NewYork-Presbyterian / Columbia around 9 p.m.
“Yes, he is here,” a nurse told me. “Vital signs are stable. Give us a little time to meet your father and I’ll call you back. “
The news was like an injection of adrenaline. I picked up the phone. I made my calls.
The morning after searching for my father’s health addresses and writing his obituaryI woke up and tried to turn on my laptop. It didn’t start. When it finally started, it asked me if I wanted to restore an unsaved document. I did not think. Let’s see what happens today.
I drove from my home in the Hudson River Valley to my mother’s. I usually got there early and left in the late afternoon. My brother would stay until night. That day we both arrived early.
When are you going to call? I ask.
Normal time, 12:30.
My phone rang at 11 a.m. My mother pressed her face against the window screen. My brother took a deep breath. I opened my laptop and picked up the phone.
It was the same doctor as yesterday, the one who asked about the DNR. Look, your dad is on a respirator. That is a form of life support. You are experiencing kidney failure and require dialysis. Her situation is still very serious. He was in good health before covid-19, but his kidney, heart, and lungs are 69 years old. It is difficult for them to recover. But today’s numbers are undeniably better than yesterday. There has been an improvement at almost every level. Your father is a tough guy. “
I put the phone down and whispered to my brother: it’s great news.
The doctor informed me of the most important changes in my father’s condition. I transcribed as much of the conversation as possible. My notes from that day said: “Bad baseline, good trend lines. Life or death is still possible.
I became the designated communicator with the hospital due to my journalism experience. I felt comfortable interviewing people on difficult topics, asking appropriate follow-up questions, and taking careful notes. For my father’s hospital stay, I had to learn a whole new vocabulary: FiO2, creatinine, mean blood pressure. My brother started teasing me when I got into shorthand for medical workers: instead of fentanyl, levo for levophed.
One of my close friends, a nurse practitioner, would help me understand all the terminology and its implications. He was treating covid-19 patients in a northern state intensive care unit. At the end of our calls, I asked him how he was. “We ran out of dresses,” she told me one day. “My intensive care unit does not have respirators; we are diverting people to Albany, ”he said on another occasion.
I sent a daily email to a group of 20 people with the latest details on my father’s condition. These were the people closest to him; they deserved to stay on top. My intention was also to avoid any questions that might be directed at my mother. “At this point, all communication should go through me,” I e-mailed the group on March 21. “I’ll let you know when it’s okay to contact her.”
My parents’ closest friends understood why I kept my mother out of reach. She too. “Tell people they can text me,” she said a few days after my father’s illness. He shuddered every time the phone rang.
Her home phone rang frequently. Trapped outside in the backyard, I had no way to intercept the calls or combat my mother’s polite instinct to answer them. “Everyone has good intentions,” my mother insisted when I urged her through the window to let the answering machine answer.
“There is a difference between good intentions and good results,” I explained. She would walk away and pick me up. Inevitably, the call would bring her tears. I curled up on the porch. My brother, uncle, and I spent hours trying to calm his mind and calm his anxiety. Any inquiry or disclosure was like sticking a finger into the open wound of her anguish.
The tyranny of good intentions, I told my uncle one morning.
“Be nice,” he said to me. “People care. They want to contact ”.
Several people asked when we could visit my father in the hospital. These people were not watching the news? A family friend told my mother that we should ask about a kidney transplant. Another asked about the type of dialysis that is used. My mother called me nervously asking for details.
We were asked over and over again if the hospital had tried hydroxychloroquine. Or rather, “that medicine against malaria”; nobody could pronounce it correctly. Yes, they tried. It seems not to have worked. What about remdesivir? Doctors do not think it is useful at this point in the hospitalization, and it is also not available at this time. What about large doses of vitamin C? What about this YouTube video from South Korea? How about this thing that I read on Facebook? Did you see the newspaper this morning?
I did not handle these questions well. I lost my temper more than once. My brother would calm me down.
Covid-19 was new and largely unschooled. Perhaps one of these seemingly strange treatments would work. If that South Korean YouTube video contained what turned out to be useful advice, I couldn’t live with myself for dismissing it. Then I would ask the medical staff potentially silly questions. Sometimes I asked them more than once.
The nurses and doctors who cared for my father, first for four days at NewYork-Presbyterian Lawrence Hospital, then for almost a month at NewYork-Presbyterian / Columbia, were always empathetic, direct, and eager to confide me with complicated details. The network of Presbyterian hospitals designated their resident doctors as points of contact with the patients’ families. These are doctors at the beginning of their careers, immersed in a dangerous pandemic without a road map. They told me more than once: “We are still studying that” or “We are developing a protocol.” I always felt confident in my father’s care after talking to them.
About a week after writing, after refusing to recover, my father’s obituary continued to improve his condition. My fault had not. Do we keep him alive with a respirator and a feeding tube against his wishes? He was still completely sedated. There was no way I could answer that question.
I received a call from the emergency room doctor who treated my father for the first time on March 20. He had not spoken to her before. “I was the one who intubated your father,” he told me. “Since then he has not left my hospital. I want to see how it is ”.
“Did you agree to the intubation?” I asked.
“Well, I told him that he needed to be intubated to stay alive. I asked him if he could go ahead with the procedure and he nodded. “
Well, intubation is an unusual word. Maybe he didn’t know what it meant. But I believe yes”.
I also. When he first got an email account, my father would send me his “word of the day.” We would try to come across increasingly ridiculous words. I remember the first: “defenestrate”. And I knew my father was reading about covid-19 treatment in the days leading up to his hospitalization. I read three newspapers every day. Of course he knew what intubation meant.
“Thanks for calling, doctor.”
“Let me know if there is anything I can do,” she replied.
My father was hospitalized for 31 days. I developed a friendly relationship with their caregivers. When I called at night, a specific nurse often answered.
“Your father is much better today,” he told me on April 9, three full weeks in hospital. “If things keep getting better, maybe we can get him off the respirator very soon.”
He is only getting better, I told him, because of the vital attention they have given him. The entire city is amazed at you. They should have a parade through the Canyon of Heroes. ”
She laughed Oh yeah, and who’s going to cover my turn when I’m on the parade? Come on, I’m doing my job here. This is what I signed up for. This is what we do. This is what I have been doing for 40 years. We talk about your grandchildren. She was helping them homeschool them. We complained that we couldn’t cut our hair.
I called my friend, the nurse practitioner, and gave him the latest update. He seemed upset. “Are you OK, friend?”
“A nurse from my hospital died,” he explained.
On April 12, Easter Sunday, my dad had a fever. He had a high heart rate. Her breathing, even with the benefit of the respirator, was growing more anxious. The tests revealed that it was a respiratory infection. “His lungs are already torn apart by covid-19, I told the resident doctor. “Can you take another infection in your respiratory system?”
He explained that they detected the infection early and trusted that they were treating it correctly. They were right. Two days later, the fever was gone, her heart rate was normal, and her breathing had improved.
“Yesterday was a stumble, but we are going back to the course,” I emailed the group. “We always knew that this recovery was not going to be a straight line. It is important to remain resilient and optimistic even when there are temporary setbacks. ”
“Ok Louis. Thanks for the update. Your dad is tough. All our love, ”replied one of his friends.
“Lou, we are all resilient and optimistic and with DAD to the end!” added a friend who had known him for 60 years.
I made my normal phone call at 8:30 that night. The family nurse attended. Oh Lou, I’ve been waiting for your call. I have good news. They are planning to extubate him tomorrow. They’re going to take your father off the respirator! ” He was practically screaming with excitement. I was speechless.
I had been waiting for this development for more than three weeks. Now he didn’t know what to do with it. I didn’t want to tell my family, get my hopes up and then have to back off if the hospital decided to delay the extubation, which the nurse explained was a possibility.
I had been hiding certain information from my family and friends during this entire test. My dad had developed a blood clot two weeks after his hospitalization. Clots are extremely dangerous, of course, but it was small and in a relatively manageable place. Doctors treated him with anticoagulants. The clot would likely persist for weeks or months. I didn’t see the benefit of telling anyone about the clot. It would be another useless twist. I kept what seemed like a terrible secret. Finally I told my wife and the medical assistant.
I called my brother and told him about the plan to get my father off the respirator. Since there were a number of contingencies, we debated telling my mother. She lived and died with each update. She told me on the phone one night that the time between 8:30 and when I called her for the latest news was “pure torture” for her. We decided to tell him about the extubation only when it was complete.
It turned out to be the right decision. My father’s breathing was labored the morning they planned to extubate him. They delayed the procedure by one day. The next morning, April 16, a doctor called. I was in the shower and I ran to answer my cell phone. He said they were doing the extubation in an hour. What do we want to do if extubation fails?
What do you mean?
Should we re-intubate him?
Is death alternative?
He doubts. While searching for the correct words, I asked him: Will he be conscious after you extubate him? Can you ask them?
The doctor explained that while my father was awake, he was still extremely stunned by weeks of powerful sedation. You may not be fully capable of making a life or death decision.
I called my brother. We both met with the doctor. We agreed that we wanted to re-intubate if necessary. I wished the doctor luck. He said he would call when the extubation ended, probably in an hour.
It was another false start. My father’s heart rate was too high, they would try again tomorrow.
I woke up early the next day and drove to my mother’s house. I didn’t want to be in transit when the phone call came. My phone rang when I was on the road. She was a doctor. They were planning to extub in an hour.
I got to my mother’s house. By then, my mother’s quarantine was over and we were maintaining a social distance at home. My brother had just arrived when my cell phone rang.
“It went as well as we could have hoped for,” said the doctor. “His vital signs are stable and he breathes well. Now he is resting. ” She explained that my father was disoriented and that it was probably not a good idea to talk to him that day. Whatever, I thought, I’ll talk to him when I get home. He had been on a fan for 28 days.
I had answered the call in my parents’ living room. My brother came in when I hung up. I was sobbing and I couldn’t communicate with him. I could see the desperate question on his face: Was he crying with relief or sadness? Did it go well or did it go wrong?
I gave him a thumbs-up and crouched down. He put his gloved hand on my shoulder. There was nothing to say to each other. We hug.
My mother was in the family room. I don’t remember how we told him. I remember thinking that this is what it looks like to “burst into tears.” “Happy tears, right mom?” She nodded her head.
I started calling all my dad’s friends and telling them the news. He had been the messenger of doom. Now he had a different type of message.
“Oh Louis, you made my year happy,” his childhood friend told me.
I called the doctor later in the day. She told me that my dad seemed distressed. He was trying to speak, but his vocal cords were too swollen. “It is very frustrating,” he told me. “I don’t know what you want to tell me.”
“Tell him my mother is safe. You no longer have covid-19 symptoms. Tell her that my brother and I are with her. And tell him that all his family and friends are healthy and that we all love him. ”
The doctor and I spoke later in the day. She had transmitted the message. “It immediately put him at ease,” he told me.
When are we out of the forest? I asked my friend the medical assistant.
Generally two to three days after extubation. It was Friday, April 17. I counted to three on my fingers. Saturday sunday monday. Remember, he is still in the ICU. There is still a long way to go. “
He was transferred out of intensive care that night.
On Monday morning, a NewYork-Presbyterian / Columbia social worker called and he said that we should start thinking about where we wanted to send my father for hospital rehabilitation when the hospital discharged him.
The conversation felt like a milestone. It also inflamed my guilt. He would need intense rehabilitation and occupational therapy. My notes from that call said: learn to button your belt … button your shirt … open the door. Chew. Walk again. ” The rehab center would have to offer dialysis and keep him overnight for weeks or months.
Could we visit it? I asked.
“Each facility has its own covid-19 rules, he explained. I will send you a list. On the list was the nursing home where my grandfather had died several years earlier. My father had visited him every day.
I started calling the rehab facilities.
I remembered a conversation I had recently with my dad. “I am not afraid of death,” he told me. “But the part that dies is the ballast. The dates. Tests. The tension it exerts on the family ”.
Years ago, when I was treated for prostate cancer, I took a day off from work to take my father to a doctor’s appointment. He sent me a thank you note. I thought it was absurd. My father picked me up from baseball practices, train stations, and airports for 30 years. Did I ever send a note?
At 12:30, I called the hospital. A medical assistant explained that my father could have another infection. His vital signs were no longer stable. “We were talking about his release from the hospital,” I said pathetically.
“I don’t think that will happen sometime this week,” he said. “Sorry.”
We did Facetime with my father once during hospitalization. He was on the respirator at the time and was very sedated. He recognized our voices, but was unable to respond.
He had been disoriented since the extubation. We didn’t want to risk exacerbating that confusion with another video chat. Her vocal cords were still wounded.
Can you put us on speaker? I asked the medical assistant.
My mother, brother, and I spoke to him later in the day.
The medical assistant called approximately two hours later, “To be clear, he is a yes to reintubation but a no to resuscitation, correct?
I was sitting next to my mother. Yes, that is correct. Are we there yet?
Her blood pressure is going down. We are going to give him a vasopressor and transfer it back to the ICU.
I updated my mother and brother.
I called the ICU a few hours later. The family nurse replied. Have they sent it back? he asked with horror in his voice. She started to cry. She put me on hold to see what was going on. He is not here, Lou.
I called the unit where he had been for the past three days. They transferred me to their nurse. “It’s better, love. We take him out of the pressure and his blood pressure is in a good range. Her heart rate is good. He is breathing well. The doctors decided that he did not need to return to the ICU. It’s okay.
It was almost midnight. I was sleeping at my mother’s house that night. I called my brother but realized that a late phone call from me would terrify him, especially on a day like this. I hung up later. “It is good news,” I sent him a text message.
The medical assistant called me early the next morning and explained why they decided not to transfer him back to the ICU. My father, he said, continued to improve overnight.
I wrote my daily email. He ended, “I have repeatedly said that recovery is not a straight line… Yesterday we handled the roller coaster as a family. My brother, my uncle and I were with my mother all day. We never lost hope. or confidence in my father’s medical care and final recovery. If there is a light at the end of the tunnel, it is flashing. Right now, it shines again. “
“Go home,” my mother implored me. “Go with your wife.”
I packed my duffel bag and called my brother. He was heading to the Bronx. My uncle was with my mom. I left the house.
I turned on a podcast about European history and started driving home. Ten minutes after the trip, the podcast was cut. My phone, through my car’s Bluetooth, rang.
He was my dad’s doctor.
“It seems to be better today,” I said.
“Lou, I’m so sorry. Your dad passed away about 10 minutes ago. “
“Ok”, I remember saying. What happened?
I don’t remember the rest of the conversation. I remember telling her not to contact anyone else in the family for at least another two hours.
I remember going off the road and stopping at a red light. I was frustrated because it was not in my driving through the red light. I remember honking the horn in the red light. No one was around.
I drove back to my mother’s house. I scanned the block for my brother’s car. I had not arrived. I have to wait for him and then tell my mother, brother and uncle all at once, right? Should I call my wife first? Should I call my dad’s best friend?
My brother’s car turned the corner. I picked up my cell phone and pretended to be in the middle of a conversation. My brother and I made eye contact. He stopped next to me and rolled down the window. I gestured towards the phone. He greeted me. I saw him park and enter the house through the rearview mirror.
I gave him exactly two minutes before I followed him inside. I timed it on the stopwatch on my phone. He was washing his hands in the kitchen sink when I entered. My mother and uncle were sitting in the living room.
Why did you come back? I ask.
Come in, I said.
What is it? my mom said. Why have you come back so soon?
I just talked to the doctor, I said. Pop is … gone. Died”. I fell apart. All the others did the same.
The rest of the scene played out as you would expect.
I called my wife. I called my dad’s best friend. I called the guys she grew up with. I called his old colleagues. I started each conversation the same way, This is that call. I heard everyone scream and cry and ask if they were serious. Then I said I had to make another call.
I went up to my childhood room and started writing my father’s obituary again. It was April 21, 2020.
I wrote about my father’s career. How you got your law degree from night school and became a prosecutor at the municipal, state and federal levels. How he convicted gangsters, drug dealers and those who abused power. How you ran a nonprofit organization and became a partner in a private law firm. He won record deals for people with great needs.
In my father’s diary, which he ordered us to read after his death, he described moments in his career when he faced ethical dilemmas. He ran for the Bronx District Attorney in the 1980s and was offered key support if he abandoned a corruption investigation. He refused and narrowly lost the election. He moved to another prosecutor’s office. He fell out of favor with the boss after writing a letter cleaning someone out of a politically motivated investigation.
I wrote that my father was a community attorney. Who spent countless hours at our kitchen table giving free advice to neighbors, reading contracts, or advising them through disputes. It got so many neighborhood kids out of trouble. Many of them approached after he passed away. “I would be in jail,” wrote one. “I wouldn’t have my family,” said another to my brother. “He is the reason I am a lawyer.”
I wrote about my father’s volunteer work: at the Special Olympics, at an organization he founded that helps law enforcement families with special needs, and at almost any Italian-American group that needs a lawyer. He was so proud of his Italian American heritage. He hated the mafia cartoons and stereotypes found on television, wrote countless opinion pieces attacking those, but revered the old school virtues he associated with his Italian-American upbringing: loyalty, humility, hard work, dedication to the family. I would always highlight famous Italian Americans. Virgin? Italian. Lady Gaga? Italian. Sean Penn? Italian.
I don’t think Sean Penn is Italian, pop.
“Look it up,” he said with satisfaction.
My father was also proud of his friends. After his death, I discovered files in his cabinet labeled with their names. He collected press clippings about them. One of the files contained an article from a trade publication that I knew was behind a pay wall. Had you signed up just to read this and print it?
Escribí que a mi padre le encantaba “el viejo vecindario” donde creció: Belmont Avenue en el Bronx. Le encantaba la tradición del lugar. El pan de Madonia’s. El queso de la Casa Della Mozzarella.
¿Por qué no te mudas a Westchester? Le preguntaría a él.
“Demasiado lejos de los ravioles de Borgati”. Mi madre hacía pasta todos los domingos. A mi padre le dolía la cabeza si no cenábamos antes de las 2 de la tarde. Tomaba cremas de huevo varias veces a la semana.
¿Qué es una crema de huevo? mi esposa preguntó una vez. Él felizmente hizo uno para ella. Se deleitaba vertiendo el seltzer desde un pie o más sobre el vaso. Ayuda con la carbonatación.
Escribí que mi papá amaba a los Yankees de Nueva York y los Padres Fundadores. George Washington fue su héroe. Podría haber sido rey, señaló mi padre una y otra vez, pero se fue por el bien del país.
Estoy seguro de que ninguna persona no académica ha hecho referencia a The Federalist Papers en la conversación más que mi padre. Siempre estaba leyendo un libro sobre la Revolución y la fundación del país. “Eventualmente llegarás a la Guerra de 1812”, bromeé con él.
“Lo dudo”, respondió.
Escribí que a mi papá le encantaba ser nuestro entrenador de las Pequeñas Ligas y le encantaba trabajar en la policía; mi abuelo era detective. Mi padre disfrutaba contando historias sobre el tiempo de su padre en la fuerza o luchando en la Segunda Guerra Mundial. Una buena parte de su diario está dedicado a eso.
Mi padre tenía un profundo compromiso con la equidad. Siempre siguió las reglas. Si un letrero decía “espera para sentarte”, esperaría mucho tiempo. Los sábados, cuando mi hermano estaba en la universidad, mi padre me llevaba al cine. Lo llamamos el “Foglia Film Club”. Tiraríamos de “encabezados dobles”: dos películas en un día. Siempre salíamos del teatro y compramos boletos para la segunda presentación. Nunca nos colamos.
Escribí que mi padre tenía muchas amistades que duraron más de 50 años. Incluso en sus 60 años, sus amigos más cercanos seguían siendo sus amigos de la infancia. Hizo una lista de los apodos de sus amigos en su diario. No necesitaba hacerlo. Los conocía a todos. Se mantuvo en contacto con todos.
Escribí que mi padre era un hombre profundamente decente, paciente y ecuánime, siempre comedido, atento y generoso.
Sabes, me dijo mi madre después de su fallecimiento, no recuerdo que alguna vez peleaste con tu padre.
“Nunca peleamos”, le dije.
“Pero peleas con todos”.
Él era el plato que enfría el té, le expliqué, adaptando una línea atribuida a Washington.
Escribí que mi padre era un hombre de familia. Que nunca nos dejó con ganas de atención.
Un verano nos tomamos unas vacaciones en la costa de Jersey. Mi padre le dio a mi hermano un cuarto y le dijo que comprara un periódico de la máquina expendedora de la cuadra. Lo acompañé. Un hombre tenía la puerta de la máquina expendedora ya abierta. “Ahórrate el dinero, solo toma uno”, dijo el hombre.
Está bien, respondió mi hermano. “Tengo que ser un buen ejemplo para mi hermano pequeño”. Cuando regresamos al hotel le conté a mi padre lo que pasó. Él lloró.
Mi padre dijo que no importaba lo que lograra en su carrera, si mi hermano y yo no nos llevábamos bien, se consideraría un fracaso. Cada Navidad nos compraba regalos compartidos, generalmente entradas para los Rangers o los Yankees.
Escribí que mi familia estaba desconsolada por la muerte de mi padre, pero consolada por su legado.
Y todos los días desde entonces, he pensado en cosas que debería haber escrito. Muchos de ellos parecen mundanos, que dejaría panecillos en mi casa todos los sábados por la mañana cuando mi esposa y yo vivíamos en el Bronx, pero que nunca tocaba el timbre. Quería darnos espacio.
O, cuando mi hermano tenía 14 años, mi padre dijo que podía alquilar “Terminator 2” solo si también alquilaba “Hamlet”. Frustrado cuando mi hermano se negó, se volvió hacia mí, “El mismo trato”, dijo. Lo tomé. Tenía 7 años. He sido un snob de cine desde entonces.
Pequeños recuerdos como este se materializan constantemente, pequeños regalos del éter.
En la escuela secundaria, ponché cuatro veces en un juego de béisbol. Me desanimé durante el viaje en automóvil a casa. “Esa fue una buena toma en el tercero al bate”, dijo. “Y te perdiste esa bola curva en la última entrada”. Estaba siendo sincero. Me reí.
Estas historias me ayudan a entender quién era. Quién soy. Quién podría ser.
No dejamos nada sin decir. Conozco sus valores, sus prioridades, sus consejos favoritos. Tengo su diario Tengo sus archivos Tengo docenas y docenas de personas enviándome recuerdos.
Philip Foglia fue esposo por 44 años, padre por 40 años, un amigo fiel toda su vida. Fue un abogado hábil y compasivo durante cuatro décadas.
Fue paciente de covid-19 por 31 días. Fue una experiencia dolorosa, pero en última instancia sin importancia. No importa cómo muera un hombre. Importa cómo vive.