Santiago Disla-Martinez is my dad, a man remembered by everyone who knew him as hard-working, honest, loving man of God. He always showed kindness to everyone and always had a smile to strangers or friends alike. My father was the most dedicated and loving father a girl could ask for. I was born into his arms through adoption and I was his only child. I grew up as a little princess, spoiled rotten where he gave me everything I ever asked for. All friends and family made jokes about how I had him tied around my little finger, there was nothing I would want that he wouldn’t try to get me. As a teen he always listened to me and gave me great advice and always was my best friend. After I got married and had my own family my dad was always there when I needed him, he had this beautiful love towards my children, they miss him so much. He was married to my mother for 45 years and they both are exceptional parents.
My mother and father lived in Paterson, NJ where my both him and my mom contracted coronavirus. After a week with symptoms, he reached a phase where he couldn’t breathe and he was taken to St. Joseph’s Hospital. The first three days he was conscious, eating and walking to the bathroom, we spoke to him by phone to check in on him and giving him strength since we couldn’t see him, we always told him that we loved him and the plans we had for him after he recovered. Then his oxygen levels dropped and so did his heart rate. He was intubated and put on a ventilator. We got daily calls about the treatment plans and how he was reacting. Just when we had hopes of his recovery everything went downhill in a blink of an eye. My dad’s lungs were not working anymore, he stopped urinating which led to him being hooked on dialysis, his heart was stressed trying to make up for all the other organs that were slowly shutting down. Every day was a struggle. 11 days later on April 19th we were told that he had reached a point of no return, that he was not going to make it. I lived 2 hours away and brokenhearted drove to my mother to tell her the news. We were allowed to video chat to “say goodbye”. I was in a state of autopilot. I didn’t really feel anything other than true fear. I never imagined the day my parents would die because it was painful to think about it… but then that day came and I was not prepared for the devastation that was to come. We saw my dad intubated and looking very frail, his hair and beard were overgrown, I felt sad because I was the one who always cut his hair. I couldn’t believe what I was seeing and even worse saying goodbye and not being able to hold his hand or kiss him on the forehead. I struggle with that. I COULDN’T HOLD HIS HAND. His hands carried me when I was a baby, his hands cleaned all my wounds when I fell, his hands held my 3 newborn children, his hands gave me one last hug in February the last time I saw him. After we finished our video call, the Dr told me that they were going to make him as comfortable as possible and slowly turn off the machines keeping him alive. My dad passed away April 20th, 2020 at 3pm. That call made my knees weak, I couldn’t breathe, I screamed for my mother and my husband and we hugged and fell to the ground crying. He’s gone, Covid-19 took him from us! His last words to me were “I love you with all my heart” back in February when he spent that month with me and my children. My mother was all alone now, I took her with me. My mom still had coronavirus and I quarantined her in my house away from us all. It was painful to care for her and have her like a little caged animal when her grandkids wanted to hug her so bad. My mother fully recovered, I’m grateful to have her with me. We are torn in a million pieces, my dad was an amazing man. I am so proud to be his daughter, and I treasure the beautiful memories I have of him.
I refuse to let him be just a number. My father was more than a statistic, He was truly a special kind of father because he was a father not by biology, but by LOVE. Adoption gave me the most amazing father a girl could ask for and for that blessing, I am eternally grateful. I LOVE YOU DADDY!
Submitted by Ruth Montan.
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