I Miss Mario

My dad is entering week 4 of the "care center" (aka nursing home).  While he is so much better than he was 6 weeks ago when this nightmare began, he still has a long way to go.  (Lesson learned:  infections can come on fast, but a serious one takes what seems like an eternity go away and even after that the "side effects" can take even longer to fade resulting in months of recovery.  Something I never anticipated and was definitely not prepared for.)

Yesterday my dad moved into a new room.  He originally had a roommate, Mario, but Mario got "kicked out." (That's a good thing...at least I hope it is.  I wanted him to be able to leave because he was healthy enough to go, not because his insurance/Medicaid would no longer cover his care.  The truth is it was mostly because of the later, but I hope the former came into play as well.)  As much as I loved Mario, it was nice to have a "private" room.  But we knew a roommate was inevitable.  What we didn't realize is that he would have to move because the room he was in would be taken over by two women and my dad would move into another room with another man.  While I like Joe (although I've only met him for a few minutes) and a single room was nice, I do miss Mario.

Mario is not what you might expect in a roommate at a rehab center.  He is relatively young (by which I mean that he is probably younger than me).  He is a big African American man who likes to watch the Cartoon Network.  (When I visited he was often watching the same shows that I know my son would be watching at home.)  He has only one leg.  His other had been amputated at the end, I believe due to complications of diabetes.  He wasn't there because of the amputation (that had taken place several years prior), but because of an infection around the area of amputation.  (At least I hope I got that right.)

Mario is not the kind of person you'd think my dad would get along with.  Certainly I wouldn't think it.  After all, he had the TV on all the time.  And it was pretty loud.  But despite that, my dad and Mario quickly became fast friends.  (It might have something to do with the fact that it is football season and they are both Giants fans, but I think a friendship would have developed no matter what.)  Mario looked out for my dad.  When he got a meal and my dad did not, Mario was the one who made a fuss.  And the day Mario was released and waited from 9 in the morning till nearly 8 at night for transportation, my dad was outraged.

Mario, meanwhile, was completely at peace.  That was what I admired him most for; his calm.  Sure he could get riled up over a football game, but the Mario I had the pleasure to have known for two weeks or so, exuded calm.  He radiated peacefulness and every evening when I left he'd say, "God bless you and your family."

I'd like to think that my family has been blessed because of Mario.  As I told him on the next to last day I saw him (because I assumed, incorrectly, that by the time I got to the center on Monday evening he would have already left), I would miss.  While I was glad he was leaving and going home, I was also sad because he was such a good roommate.  (I probably should have said friend; I probably should have said that HE was a blessing to us.)  I told him to take care of himself; that I never wanted to see him there again.  Further, I hoped one day we would meet again, but at the mall or at the grocery store.  I asked his permission and then gave him the biggest hug I could give.  That was MY blessing to him.

Realistically I know that I will most likely never seen Mario again.  We live in different worlds and our chances of bumping into each other are slim.  However, my life has been made richer because I had the opportunity to meet/know Mario.  I wish the circumstances had been different, but I am grateful for his presence in my life.  (No matter how short that time might have been.)  I will never forget Mario.  And when I need peace in my heart, I will think of him.


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