Manuel Garcia

Manuel Garcia

From A 3rd Serving of Chicken Soup for the Soul

Manuel Garcia

Manuel Garcia, a proud youthful father

Was known on his block as a hardworking man.

With a wife and a family, a job and a future

He had everything going according to plan.

One day Manuel Garcia, complaining of stomach pains

Went to the clinic to find the cause.

His body was found to have cancerous tissue

Ignoring the order of natural laws.

So Manuel Garcia of Milwaukee County

Checked into the medical complex in town.

Suddenly seeing his thirty-nine years

Like the sand
in an hourglass plummeting down.

“What are my choices?” cried Manuel Garcia.

“You’ve basically two,” was the doctor’s decree.

“Your cancer untreated will quickly be fatal,

But treatment is painful with no guarantees . . . ”

And so it began, Manuel’s personal odyssey—

Long sleepless nights in a chemical daze

With echoes of footsteps down long lonely corridors

Tolling his minutes and hours away.

With the knowledge that something inside was consuming him

Manuel Garcia was filled with despair.

He’d already lost forty pounds to the cancer,

And now to the drugs he was losing his hair.

After nine weeks in treatment the doctor came calling.

Said “Manuel, we’ve done about all we can do.

Your cancer could go either way at this juncture;

It’s out of our hands and it’s now up to you.”

Manuel looked in the mirror, a sad frightened stranger

So pale, so wrinkled, so lonely, so scared.

Diseased, isolated, and feeling unlovable—

One-hundred-twenty-six pounds and no hair.

He dreamed of his Carmen at sixty without him,

His four little children not having their dad,

Of Thursday night card games at Julio’s,

And everything else he’d not done that he wished that he had.

Awakened from sleep on the day of his discharge

By shuffling feet going all around his bed,

Manuel opened his eyes and thought he was still dreaming—

His wife, and four friends with no hair on their heads.

He blinked and he looked again, not quite believing

The five shiny heads all lined up side by side.

And still to that point not a word had been spoken,

But soon they were laughing so hard that they cried.

And the hospital hallways were ringing with voices.

“Patron, we did this for you,” said his friends.

And they wheeled him out to the car they had borrowed.

“Amigo, estamos contigo ves. . . .”

So Manuel Garcia returned to his neighborhood

Dropped off in front of his two-bedroom flat.

And the block seemed unusually deserted for Sunday;

He drew a deep breath and adjusted his hat.

But before he could enter, the front door flew open.

Manuel was surrounded with faces he knew—

Fifty-odd loved ones and friends of the family

With clean-shaven heads and the words “We love you!”

And so Manuel Garcia, a person with cancer,

A father, a husband, a neighbor, a friend,

With a lump in his throat said “I’m not one for speeches,

But here I have something that needs to be said.

“I felt so alone with my baldness and cancer.

Now you stand beside me, thank Heaven above.

For giving me strength that I need may God Bless you,

And long may we live with the meaning of love.

“For giving me strength that I need may God Bless you,

And long may we live with the meaning of love.”

David Roth

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