by Obie Henry
Talk of a workaholic or an alcoholic, my father was both. May be if I was a guy, I would have obtained that gene from him. At 58, he we’ll cut trees into lawns, slice them up with little or no assistance from Greg, my uncle. Both of them were like twins until we lost Greg to a snake bite in one of their hunting games. There were two places to find my dad if he couldn’t reach him on the phone, the Woods that was 5miles from our family house at Southern Cherokee, and a local bar that was a walking distance from home.
My father was the one that took me to hospitals the three times I had my kids. He was my dad, my mother, my 911 and before I got married to Carlos, he was also my first husband. Carlos and I were cops at the Dallas Police Department. He was my superior and I often hated how he treated me. I always saw him as a drug addict because of his closeness to dope sellers in the street and at casinos. Those crooks would let him into their turfs but would be hostile to everyone else who wasn’t in their gang. He spoke Latin very fluently and knew his way around the network of drug peddlers. They trusted Carlos Rivera to the point of disclosing where the next consignment will hit, who was involved and the interested buyers. Even though they knew Carlos was a cop, they knew he wouldn’t snitch on them.
On one occasion, I had a fight with Carl and was suspended for a week. Our target was one of the Mexican gang members and I was in charge of the case. Before I and my team could round up on them, someone had informed them we were coming. The only person I suspected would do that was Carlos and I made sure I left him with a black eye before my suspension. Little did I know we would end up in a relationship. If anyone had told me that I and Carlos were going to share a roof together, I would have slapped the words off his mouth before he put a period to it.
My father was hospitalized for a kidney problem and I needed a week leave to go be with him. I had thought it was a minor stuff but I ended up staying another week to the detriment of my job. Despite my closeness with my colleagues, the only person from Dallas Police Department that came to the hospital for a visit was Carlos. At first, I thought he came to serve me my sack letter. We stayed at the reception for hours not talking to each other. Before he left, he went to speak with one the doctors, perhaps to ascertain the seriousness of the illness. He didn’t see my dad, and in my bitterness, I had warned the nurse that came to inform me of his visit never to let him in. My father’s kidneys had deteriorated to the point that both kidneys were of no use. He went into coma most of the times and had to be resuscitated. He needed a kidney transplant very urgently and even when I offered mine, the scan result proved it wasn’t the right size.
I took a cab to go see a family friend who served in the Army in the 80’s with my dad to know if he could proffer a solution. I had exhausted every dime I had, and I would have considered selling our house if anyone was going to pay 30 per cent in cash ASAP. With nothing but promises from few folks, I went back to the hospital only to discover that he has been transferred to the theater for operation without my consent. I needed an explanation to keep me from setting the whole building ablaze, but no doctor was telling me what I wanted to hear. What the nurses and some hospital staff could say was ‘calm down Miss Dante’. All hell was about to break lose as I picked up an extinguisher and was already bringing down some glasses when the security guys forced me to the ground. I was detained in one of the rooms and dozed off a couple of times until the following day when a doctor asked me to go see my dad.
It was nothing short of miraculous. He was smiling as I walked in with my mouth agape, surprised to see a man who couldn’t lift a cup of coffee the previous day, already looking like his good old self. After apologizing for not having my consent to go ahead with the operation, Doctor Miles took me to another room to explain the mysterious transplant. To my greatest surprise, Carlos Rivera was lying on a hospital bed, drips and blood transfusion still plugged to him, he was recuperating from surgical operation. Carlos donated one of his kidneys to my dad! And not only that, he funded everything from his pocket.
Carlos was quite the opposite of what I thought he was as I got to learn in my 9years as Mrs. Rivera. I’m yet to discover a lot of things about him but I’ll be patient with that. His life truly exemplifies the fact that every prisoner even on death row, deserves to tell his own story.
Obie Henry is a Nigerian freelancer who writes "to escape reality."
"I started writing in my first year in high school. Writing was a form of therapy for me and through the years, I'm surprised my sanity is still intact or almost.
I have a collection of poems to my name and a few short stories. Love and tragedies inspired most of it.
I may not see things the way you see it, so I write."