Before traveling to California, Al and I received a message from Berta, his sister, saying that his father Pedro was in the last stages of his life. Since I was going to be just a couple of hours away I told Al that I would be going to see his family.
When I first arrived in SoCal I let my parents know that I had changed some plans and a visit to San Diego was in order. On the Monday after my arrival Mom and I made our way from Hesperia, in the high desert to San Diego. It was a picture perfect day.
I lived in Southern California for the first half of my life. Memories of California highways can sometimes call to mind traffic and smog. Not this day. The sky was blue with a trace of clouds. There was almost no traffic. Mom and I hit the road and had a very smooth drive. We didn’t go by way of the coast; we traveled inland. We knew we were approaching San Diego when we felt the changes in the air. The changes are almost imperceptible. The air begins to feel moist. You can smell the ocean even though we were not driving along the coast. Sure enough, the highway signs confirmed what we already knew.
We arrived around noon. We chatted briefly with Al’s mom, Dolores, and with Berta. Shortly thereafter, we were able to visit Pedro in his room. He was awake and alert. The head of the bed was raised to a sitting position so that he could watch TV and also work on his balsa wood puzzles. As part of his therapy, and in order to keep his mind active, Pedro would work on three-D puzzles made of balsa wood. He would punch out the pieces and put the puzzles together.
My sister-in-law Yolanda arrived. We were like two little girls giggling and chatting. It was wonderful to see her. Pedro seemed to be very content quietly working on his puzzle (it was a 3-D tiger) while we sat by the bed and got caught up.
Dolores served an incredible lunch. Baked chicken, rice and a shrimp with avocado salad. Yum! I can still taste it.
Al’s brother, Pete also came by. Our visit was brief but I was really glad to see him. We also met Pedro’s sister, Chabela.
Mom and I didn’t stay very long, but I was grateful for the visit. I was touched by the care and attention that everyone gave to Pedro. Berta’s devotion was particularly evident as she quietly slipped in and out of the dining room and kitchen to tend to her father’s needs.
While visiting, Yolanda commented that she was glad Pedro was at home. When looking into various convalescent homes, they concluded it was in Pedro’s best interest to take car of him at home. Thankfully the family was able to manage this. Throughout Pedro’s illness, Berta became very adept at working with hospice personnel and at maneuvering through the maze of medical providers.
We said our good-byes, then Mom and I made our way back to Hesperia. We enjoyed the drive back and also reflected on the visit.
The following day I said my good-byes to Mom and Dad. The visit was brief but enjoyable. As always I was glad to be back home with Al and Mija.