My Reyes Family Romances are all about family. Many of their stories are in the six books that I've already written, and there are a few more stories simmering in my head, waiting for me to have the time to write them. In this book, Miquel and Alicia fell in love in high school, when they were each others' firsts. Everyone assumed they'd marry after high school.
But Alicia's family wasn't a happy one, like Miguel's, so she ran away to college, and never came back. She began a career, and married, having a daughter. Now that she's returned to Miguel, and brought her daughter with her, he's accepted Juleesa as his own. But Alicia's husband refused to sign the divorce papers. Now he's dying, and as a nurse, Alicia is caring for him on his deathbed. He asks her to bring Juleesa to stay with them, because he never wanted anything to do with her before, when she was a baby. Now she's a three-year old, who calls Miguel her "Poppi."
After almost two weeks had passed, Miguel had just finished reading to Juleesa and telling her good-night, when Alicia began to speak to him in Spanish, telling him how much she missed him and loved him. He was surprised, but not when she explained that she felt the need to talk to him in a language that neither of the other two residents in the condo would understand, until she could get into the living room, where neither of them would be able to hear her. Then she switched back to English.
“Miguel, remember when I told you that I thought he was having some kind of ‘epiphany’, and that’s why he wanted Juleesa and me to be here, watching over him while he dies?”
Alicia sighed, “Well, today was truly a momentous occasion for all of us. He is not able to speak very clearly anymore, so Juleesa usually has trouble understanding what he is saying. I make her go in to his room a couple of times a day, and usually she just tells him about what she was doing right before I brought her in to speak to him. Today, right before her naptime, he asked her if she knew who he was. She nodded, and told him that she knew he was married to her mother, and that’s why we used to live in the condo with him. He asked her if she realized how she was related to him. She gave him a puzzled look, and said that he might be like a ‘Tío’…related somehow. She was not really all that interested in the conversation by that point.”
“And I assume you had to explain to him what ‘Tío means?” Miguel asked.
“Yes. When I told him it meant ‘uncle’, he got upset, but he doesn’t have the breathing capacity to yell anymore. He then told Juleesa that he is her father, and that she is his daughter. That he and I are her parents. He asked her if she understood what that means.”
“And she said that she didn’t really understand what that means, but that I had told her that he is her father. He asked her if she knew what a father is, and she shook her head. He said a father is the most important man in a child’s life. That’s when he lost control of the conversation. Juleesa gave him a weird look, and told him, ‘No, you silly man. The most important man to me is my Poppi.’ Miguel, I was holding my breath by that point. I didn’t know what to say. But I never got a chance to say anything, because when he asked Juleesa to explain why her Poppi is so important, she babbled on and on about you.”
Smiling, Miguel asked, “She did? What did she say?”
“She said that you play games with her, and sometimes you can even beat her at them. She said that you tell her stories, and read to her. She said that you snuggle with her and watch cartoons with her on Saturday mornings, and you eat cereal out of the box with her, even though I tell you not to. She said that you pick her up from daycare sometimes, and you make dinner for her, then you take her to the park, and push her on the swing. She said that you sing songs for her, and tell her that she is your favorite girl. She said that you tell her she is the daughter of your heart, and that you love her. She said that she feels safe when you let her sit in your lap, and that she likes when you carry her to bed, then tuck her in. Then she started to cry, and told me that she misses you, and she wants to go home. Miguel, I didn’t know what to do or to say! She climbed onto my lap then, and I rocked her, and agreed with her that we would go home as soon as we could, and that I would let her talk to you first, when I called you tonight. I held her until she fell asleep on my lap, then I carried her into my bedroom, and put her down to sleep in my bed, since she’s been sleeping with me lately.”
Miguel took a deep breath, “God, I miss you both so much. Just hearing how much I mean to her, makes me feel good, but it makes me ache to hug her, and hold her on my lap, and tell her how much I love her.” He sighed.
Copyright, 2010, Fiona McGier