Gente que Cuenta

Mister Michael,
by Rubén Azócar

Adalbert Erdeli Atril press e1718322246269
Adalbert Erdeli,
Artist’s Father, 1926

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      It seems like it was yesterday when, in August 1985, I became one of the international students in the Michaels’ house in Wellesley, MA, USA.

Cathy immediately adopted me… but Seńor Michael commanded respect. One day, he invited me to go shopping at the mall. I felt comfortable and arrived late to our meeting. Believe me, I learned a lesson about punctuality.

Later that summer, I had a pending essay and timidly asked Mr. Michael for his opinion. The essay came back all marked in red and went through several iterations until it was perfect. I learned a lesson about excellence.

A couple of years later, I returned to the Michaels’ house. Don and I enjoyed several moments together that spring. I remember that, on my last day, I extended my hand to say goodbye and he hugged me tightly. I learned a lesson about friendship and love.

Dad fought cancer for years and, in this last chapter, taught me two lessons. During his last hospitalization, I called the President and CEO of the hospital, who is a colleague and friend, to give dad a courtesy visit. Without knowing, dad was “addressing some concerns” with the head nurse and said, “What do I need to do, call the president of the hospital?” just as my friend walked into the room. Dad called me and we laughed for minutes on the phone. I learned a lesson about keeping humor in adversity.

Dad always overcame cancer, and we all hoped this time would be no different. When I had the privilege of visiting him in his last days – I will spare the details of those moments we shared – he taught me a lesson about resilience and dignity.

I was lucky to have two fathers. My biological father was extraordinary. My American father was too. Their lessons are always present and have been part of my personal and professional life. They will always be with us.

Ruben Azocar Atril press
Rubén J. Azócar es caraqueño, médico anestesiólogo e intensivista, fanático del béisbol y vive en Boston -desde donde escribe- desde hace más de un cuarto de siglo.

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