Life is a conscious decomposition of man and his body. Breathing, seeing, feeling and storing events and circumstances in what we call memory, from the biological point of view, which claims that life is the gift of being born, growing, reproducing and dying.

We all see the birth and death of others. We do not know how to master this adventure called life, disappearance or death. Everyone spends their lives as they see fit – well, other circumstances would lead us to a different kind of criticism of “relevance.” Let us continue and not touch politics. Every human being incorporates philosophical, sociological and religious elements, including those that help him to understand from one or more angles what straightforward life should or should not be. Our first approaches to these elements are mother and father. Teachers and society, in general, strengthen and affirm these instruments that lead us to elaborate our principles.

There have been several events in my life, among which I would like to mention the death of my parents. Death, which since my childhood has had no place in my mind and should not have, because the father and mother are immortal in the eyes of an infant. I remember every second of those last moments of my mother and father. They both died in my arms. Each one individually in time and space, but in my arms. The night my mother’s soul left this earthly dimension was a quiet night, neither cold nor hot. Ten o’clock marked the dial on the grandfather clock. I was at home watching TV. It was a show called “extreme renewal” that I didn’t want to miss. Suddenly the mobile phone rang, and at the same time, I remembered the last happy moments of my mother. I had been with her that afternoon. Something strange had happened, and I didn’t want to part from her presence. Although I tried to leave the house as fast as I could, I couldn’t do it. She told me about her chest pain, and I replied that this was the result of her more than 40 years of puffing tobacco addiction and her stressed heart. The weakened arteries and veins. All this leads to an end that we all know but do not want to accept, I preached to before her.

I picked up my mobile phone and on the other side of the line was my mother’s neighbor who said to me in a loud voice: – Your mother is being taken to the hospital, it’s serious…

I started the engine of my motorcycle, swung myself onto the seat and in a few minutes, I stood in front of the hospital gate. My mother hadn’t even arrived yet. Three minutes later, an old Renault 9 car of red color appeared in the courtyards of the emergency room. My mother was in the back. I approached the car, took my mother out and brought her to the hospital building. There were already nurses with a stretcher there who took her to the emergency room. I went in with them, didn’t see a doctor nearby and was preparing to start a resuscitation procedure myself. I began with cardiac massage and mouth-to-mouth ventilation. My father, who stood desperately beside me and could not understand the whole exercise, pushed me aside. But I persisted and continued with the resuscitation procedure.

Meanwhile, my decrepit mother took her last breath. She opened her eyes, and as if to tell me something, she fixed her gaze directly on mine. I understood her message. It was a code that was decrypted at that very moment. She wanted to leave. Her farewell was this fixed eye contact that I remember every evening to this day, at home, before going to sleep.

My father and his farewell

My father, sister and I decided to have my mother cremated and to have the funeral ceremony with family and friends. We wanted to honor and remember our mother. In her honor, we planted a tree and said a few words. All in all, we created such a loving memory of our mother.

Then everyone returned to everyday life. My sister decided to take my father to the capital of our country, where she had settled in the meantime.

The word “take away” sounds like referring to an object – the reality is that sometimes we take some loved ones with us as things and make them an inventory of the house. Papa became a makeshift babysitter there. He changed diapers, warmed the teapot and looked after my nephew’s cradle – which he never did at home. He also had to learn how to cook and do household chores. Things like Washing, ironing and even walking the dog – at least he was busy and forgot about the sad absence of his wife in the middle of all his activities.

Three years later my sister returned to the province. She had grown tired of working as a private nurse and taking care of the house’s financial obligations alone. Her husband, a police sergeant, was neither present as a companion nor as a husband in the two households he had. He cared even less for his 5 children.

My sister came back, and as soon as she had unpacked the garbage, she also unwrapped the old man, my father. She gave him to me so I could take care of him. With the greatest naturalness, I took over this task and accommodated dad in a room in my house. Here he had his place and what was necessary for his livelihood. That was always available to him. Sometime later he wanted to go to the farm where his brother and sister had been for almost a year, and I released him there. One afternoon I got a call from his sister telling me that my father couldn’t button his shirt and tie his shoes. That’s when I decided to get him and bring him back to my house. I took him to the doctor, and they diagnosed him with Parkinson’s disease. I was a little skeptical about any diagnosis made by doctors in this country – they are almost always wrong. As such, I began to give him the medication and treatment that were prescribed, apparently with some changes. Among those I remember special meals, experimental treatment with marijuana grass, home exercises and what worked best for me, reading. I have considered that a healthy brain is one that trains itself while reading;

Some people still tell me today that, thanks to the literature he could read, he was full of consciousness for what was going on around him; and that he had not died earlier, the farewell, his departure from this world, had not taken place before, that also had something to do with the constant reading.

Every disease has developed, and this one here made no exception. He had open buttocks due to the persistent pressure. Stiff arms and legs. Progressive loss of language. No control over the sphincters. Eventually, a chain of events emerged that are predictable in this disease. What never changed about him was his goodwill and attitude. That loving look that made me desperate because I didn’t know what to do to relieve his fear or his moral pain; -yes, his moral pain, that was his greatest suffering. A man who had friends in flocks, and no one came to visit him; my father sank into this pain. He saw himself on the doorstep of death, and none of his friends ever showed up. When I say no one, I mean only his daughter and me. But we both were only two sincere figures for him in this circumstance, trying to do the best for him. The three of us were trapped with him in his catastrophic illness. Patient and family were reduced to physical and mental impotence. There was nothing we could do.

In moments of despair, my father and I cried, then he breathed again, touched my shoulder and shook his head, this code meant “everything is fine, I’m fine…”. One day he got the flu. Fever and sweating. I told him that I wanted to take him to the doctor, and he replied, “No,” this virus would quickly disappear again. The truth was, he feared that he would be kept alive with hoses, cables, and equipment connected to his body. Basically, I agreed with him; from my experience as a paramedic, I know that, both for a patient and under the circumstances, the most logical thing in the medical protocol is to take someone like him to an intensive care unit. No more than a week passed, and one night while I was giving him food, he suffered a cardiorespiratory arrest.

I saw his eyes turning, his pulse disappearing and his lips becoming pale, turning dark blue, almost too purple. I did more than 20 minutes of resuscitation on him. In my desperation, I dragged him all over the house. I moved his body up and down and took care not to harm him. This maneuver brought the result. He had come back to life. His lips steadily returned to their normal pink color. The eyes opened slowly, and his firm gaze met me. Between the effort and the tiredness, we both suffered, he said to me in a broken voice something incomprehensible, “why didn’t you let me die? My answer was spontaneous, “Father, I didn’t want to let you go, I saw you suffer.” In the following week at the same time, 8 pm, the visit of the Grim Reaper was inevitable. Again, I used resuscitation maneuvers and this time they didn’t work. I took him in my arms, called a cab, and we went to the hospital. Curiously, it was the same place where I had said goodbye to my mother six years earlier.

And again, we performed a ceremony and planted another tree. Today I have a different philosophy of life than the one I had when both parents were at my side. On a recent trip to Europe, I was in conversation with a friend who is very spiritually oriented. I told him this story in detail, and his answer was: You are a happy man because you could accompany both parents to death; many of us have heard of their death in the distance, we never knew what their last moments on this planet had been like. They took you in at birth, and you accompanied them to their deaths. You were the last face they could see. You were the soul connected to them until they boarded the boat. That’s a privilege.

This thought has not yet taken hold in my head and memory. I really don’t know what kind of privilege it should be to have personally experienced the farewell of my parents? But at the end of this text, my computer was stained with tears and memories as if everything had only happened today.

Fabián Orlando Otálvaro Ramírez

Fabián Orlando Otálvaro Ramírez has a  College degree in Spanish and Literature. He is retired from the Colombian police and a lover of adventure. Fabian lives in the city of Armenia Quindío, likes art, cinema and is also a fan of science fiction movies, especially time travel. He enjoys the mountains and rivers of his native Colombia and dreams of traveling around the world, getting to know places that are not mentioned in any travel guide.
Fabián Orlando Otálvaro Ramírez

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