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A reminder to be grateful

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At the age of 16 senior Jovani Gonzalez lost his father. Gonzalez traveled to Texas to visit his father during his last moments.

At the age of 16 senior Jovani Gonzalez lost his father. Gonzalez traveled to Texas to visit his father during his last moments.

Photo by Mayeli Vivaldo

Photo by Mayeli Vivaldo

At the age of 16 senior Jovani Gonzalez lost his father. Gonzalez traveled to Texas to visit his father during his last moments.

By Mayeli Vivaldo, Editor in Chief

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At the age of 16, senior Jovani Gonzalez lost a treasured and loved family member: His father.

Gonzalez loved and appreciated his father.

“He was that harness in my life. He always kept me safe and tried to help me as best as he could,” he said. “He was always that one person I could rely on. I knew sometimes he was too tired to go with me to places or he didn’t have that much money, but he always tried his best.”

When recalling memories of his father, Gonzalez told a story of his father and him at the mall.

“We went to the Chicago Premium Outlets mall. I saw something through a window and he saw me looking at it and said, ‘let’s go check it out.’ In the end, he bought me this really cool jacket that I wanted.”

When asked to describe his father, Gonzalez said, “He was loving, caring, and he would try to at least be there as a father.”

When Gonzalez was in middle school, his father had to move from West Chicago to Texas due to financial reasons.

Regardless, Gonzalez and his father would keep in touch.

“We always talked on the phone. I remember my brother bought him a phone and on that phone, he (his father) started to figure out how to video chat. We would video chat and he would call me on the phone whenever he had free time,” Gonzalez said. “At the end of every phone call, we would say ‘I love you.’”

In March 2016, Gonzalez’s brother came to his house with some dreadful news about his father.

His brother told his mother and family that their father was not doing well and was in the hospital.

As Gonzalez’s brother explained the situation to his mother, Gonzalez did not know how to react.

“I was in shock. My first thought was, ‘We need to go Texas right now,’” Gonzalez said, wiping his tears. “He told us that he (his father) had a seizure the night before and that he was in the intensive care unit. He was in a coma. He hadn’t woken up.”

After hearing the news, Gonzalez’s family decided to rent a car and drive to the Texas hospital where Gonzalez’s father was staying.

Although Gonzalez missed nearly a week worth of school, he wanted to be with his father.

Gonzalez and his family visited his father right away.

“I was surprised. He had gotten so skinny. The way he looked on the bed made me feel and know he was going to pass away,” Gonzalez said.

Gonzalez stayed with his father, trying to interact with him.

“Me and my family would try to talk to him to see if we could get a reaction out of him. He would try to move, but he couldn’t, he would just jitter,” Gonzalez said. “When my mom talked to him and apologized that we hadn’t come to visit him sooner, he started to cry. I told him I was sorry I didn’t call him last night, the day prior to the seizure.”

After a week of no recovery, Gonzalez and his family had to face and make a heart-wrenching decision of ending his father’s life support.

“We knew if my dad woke up, he wouldn’t be the same. We decided to pull the plug,” Gonzalez said. “I wasn’t there when his heart stopped beating. I was in the hallway getting drinks for my family and there were monitors for each patient with their heartbeats. I saw one that said zero and it was blinking. I knew that was my dad’s. I ran into the room and I saw him there.”

After his father’s death, Gonzalez felt, “relieved because he didn’t have to suffer anymore and didn’t have to go through life alone anymore. Before my dad passed away, my grandma passed away. It’s nice to think that they saw each other in the afterlife.”

Gonzalez misses his father.

“I wish I could have more time with him. I wanted to know more stuff about him. I wish I could see him again,” he said.

Gonzalez never expected his father to pass away so suddenly.

He hopes that people will take his story as a wake-up call and hopes they will realize the value their fathers have.

“If they (people) don’t have a strong bond with their father and there is something personal that’s holding them back, I’d advise them to rethink it and try to work things out. If they are ashamed of their fathers, they should at least be grateful they have a father who is trying to be there for them,” Gonzalez said. “Life doesn’t always go the way you want it to go. Things happen unexpectedly.”

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A reminder to be grateful