|Jose Banos (1923- ); Photo: © S. Banos|
Like most men, my father was riddled with all too human faults, and as with most of us, it would be best to delve and concentrate on our own inadequacies. As a man, he was best defined by his life long religion of hard work. Arriving in NYC with wife in hand in 1946, the subway was a nickel, a cold water flat (in SOHO, no less) cost all of $15 per month, and when necessary (ie- Puerto Ricans weren't always treated with kid gloves), he could quit an unskilled labor job in the morning and have another by lunch. He loved his homeland dearly, but developed a strong affinity for his new island of tall buildings and even taller contradictions. He worked, endured, had a son, and ultimately retired (although he continued to work P/T till ninety). How does one reduce an entire life's frustrations and accomplishments into a few short sentences- how does life itself betray one of its very sense of self?
With each passing day my father now loses yet another small part of himself, replaced with some mutant aberration, some mocking misrepresentation of what he once was. At times, one can actually see him struggle still, trying to make sense of a situation of which he can no longer make sense of, and then... Poof- the fog again takes hold before it ever cleared. Soon, even those brief, approximations of clarity will also dissipate. And you're left wondering- where is the fine line where you stop being you; where does your true self, the totality of all you learned, shared, succumbed to and overcame then reside?
No amount of work will ever make sense of it.