Sunday, December 28, 2008

Sweet Eva & her father

Living near the Medical Center in Houston, teaching at Mark Twain and being a patient at MD Anderson pretty much guarantees you will meet someone (sadly, many) that are here for treatment. One such family (you may remember Maggie's reading buddy at school) has been very dear to me…especially their daughter, Eva. She is in 1st grade…same age as Maggie was when I was diagnosed. My worst nightmare became their reality Christmas Eve when her father died. His memorial service was today and dear Eva was brave enough to read a poem she wrote about her father. There wasn’t a dry eye in the church.

From Eva

I hear my Daddy’s voice
In lots of things
When I’m running fast
When I’m eating last
When I’m watching cartoons
Or looking at the moon.

I hear him in the waves
In the breezy ocean air
In the shell at my ears
The quiet voice over my fears
Tells me I am not alone
Tells me I always have a home
Where he will always be.

I will play the piano loud and soft
And blow hard in the shells
Laugh and scream in fun
Paint vivid colors in the sun
And rainbows and fish and sails
Zebras, monkeys, Lions, Whales
So Daddy can hear and see me, too.

I only had the privilege of meeting her father once. Antonio sounded like an amazing man. I hear he lived his life based on this simple Japanese phrase: “If you see a hungry man do not give him a fish, rather teach him how to fish.” He decided to commit his life to cancer research at age 14. The only way to make that happen was to go to Angola during wartime to pursue a medical degree through teaching. I’m sure many grateful people who visited his free clinic or arrived at the emergency room where he was the only doctor can thank him for their lives. It was only after all this he finally received a grant to support himself was he able to devote all his time to cancer research. He loved his family, he was fair and believed in justice for all. It seems he worked and sacrificed his entire life to uphold these principles.

I will miss Eva. She would tell me daily of the struggle her father was fighting. It was so sad such an innocent child had to know. She is leaving for Portugal this week for the funeral and when they come back they will move back to Oklahoma City to finalize some commitments. Ironically, both parents are cancer research doctors. Then they will move back to Portugal...I know they will find peace to be home.

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