Rogelio del Carmen (1934-2006)
He played softball in High School. And he had the most exquisite handwriting script a man has a right to brandish. He wanted to be a doctor but his father's fortunes and inclinations were so that this was never to be. He joined the U.S. Navy and was processed through to ship out when it was uncovered that he had a family already and was released back into Cavite City, the town around Sangley Point that was my birthplace.
My father had his share of good luck but not enough for anyone who knows his history to volunteer that he was a lucky man. He did, however, struggle with the fates to provide for his family and let me tell you, it was a struggle.
Life in the U.S. eventually found us all reunited to be a family again, although it was only going to be five years later that the first of many health challenges would rear its ugly head. Fifteen years later it was much worse. We wished him a release from it many times. Many times we'd blink that thought back because he'd get better and shame on us for even grazing the notion.
Why, just these past months it was the best we've seen him in so long. Perhaps this is that place where there's no way but up. But maybe it was just to show us how strong he is and what kind of fight he can still muster. This past Saturday, at 3 a.m. in the morning, my father slipped away quietly.
Even though I'll never be half the man he was in life, he has given me more than I'll ever need for mine. Good-bye, dad. You're my hero. Forever.
I try to sketch my dad when I visit him. I did a sketch when his kidney failed not knowing that in the coming years those hospital sketches will be the only drawings of my father I'll ever do. These are the last three I've done of him from last year. The first one was after he had recovered from a very serious infection. The next two shows him as he gained weight and a lot of his old self was visible again.