It seems like a few months ago. My godfather passed away 16 years ago tomorrow, and I had forgotten until I walked into my parents house, to find the atmosphere silent, the air dead, and my dad quite and isolated amongst himself.
When I was 3 years old, my father's best friend of 15 years was involved in a drunk-driving accident. My godfather was sober, it was the driver who T-boned his tow truck that had been drinking heavily that night. He had gotten away with manslaughter at a sentencing of one month behind bars.My godfather, whom was 29, had died a month after his birthday.
My last memory of him was the day before his death. He came to my house for a barbeque, my mom in a beautiful black flowing skirt that he liked, my dad in a teal and white vertically striped shirt and jeans. I remember my mom burning his hamburger, the way he liked. He squeezed a lemon over it and slapped it in between two buns, and was happy. Shortly before his burger was burned to his liking though, I had been playing with a Donald Duck toy that I loved. And my godfather found a golf club, and me, leaving my toy unattended for 5 minutes, I walked out of the house to watch him swing the club, hit my toy and I watched it fly away into the distance.
I screamed, I cried. I told him I hated him. He laughed like he never had before. If I could go back in time, I would beg him not to go to his work. He had a friend call, and ask if he would help get his truck out of a mud pit, and being the generous guy that Jav ("have") was, he went. Little more than 8 hours later (he left around 6 PM) we would receive a call that my parents best friend had died in an accident. I remember silently sitting on the bed with my mom, and she answered the phone, hung up and started crying. I knew what happened, it was something I could just sense, that Javier no longer existed. My dad had walked into the room, my mother whispered to him and he went to the scene of the accident.
I wonder how he felt, the emotions my dad had gone through, to drive to the next town over, go a few miles up a road to be greeted by flashing lights and paramedics who could no longer do a single thing to save my dad's best friend's life. My godfather had died almost instantly. (I would like to think so.) He had hit the steering column in the collision with such force that his aorta had burst, and his cause of death had been bleeding internally. I have his tow company jacket he was wearing in the accident. And if I look close enough, I can see a dark, faded stain on his jacket collar. The only DNA of his remaining in my life.
After the accident, I was given his flatbed 1990 Toyota pickup. Over the last 15 years, my dad slaved over it. We made it into a $60,000 restoration. It was the most beautiful thing you could have ever laid eyes on. In September, the separated garage we had stored it in for the winter had caught fire. The $20,000 in diamond aluminum plating had evaporated. The steel of the cab and bumper remain warped and bubbled. I had never cried so hard in my life. The only thing I was thinking as I watched it burn was "How could I save it?" "Why isn't my dad saving it?!" "Can I wrap a chain around the tow hitch and pull it?" I felt like I was watching my life die. I was so wrapped around that vehicle that it had feelings to me. I could feel it's pain as it's body melted and warped. Nothing could have been done. The $100,000 insurance we had on it had been temporarily taken off for the winter while we stored it. Nothing has been the same since. My dad and I always went for drives in Jav's pickup every year on his birthday, and a month later on the anniversary of his passing. Now we have nothing to worship our everlasting love and devotion to him.
This year, will be difficult. It will be the 16th anniversary of his passing. We can no longer look to his beautiful truck to be our way of dealing with the pain. After I turned 18, that truck was to be mine. I never had it. The truck was killed in the fire when I was 17. Last year. I was to receive it tomorrow. Something that meant so much to me and my father. Something we had so much in common with. All of the bonding I had done with my father was over Javier's truck. The last 16 years of my dad and I's relationship is gone it seems. I still help him with the dirt bikes and making lead sinkers, but it will never be the same and we both know it. I don't know how well I will be able to cope with it.
May my godfather rest in peace, with his beautiful truck.
We miss you Jav.