When I was a girl and I watched my parents dance, it was the only time I ever saw them come together and share a moment of intimacy in public. My father, his dark, wavy hair slicked back with the piney smell of Tres Flores brilliantine, and his hand with the primitive, heart-shaped tattoo that simply reads, “Amor”, planted firmly around my mother’s modest waist, swept the dance floor with my mother, spinning her so quickly on a dime that her high-heeled shoes seemed to just barely scratch the ground. Back in those days, when my parents danced to the likes of their favorite Mexican norteño music, my father Reymundo, or Mundo for short, seemed like the strongest man in the world.
I’ve been listening to a lot of my parent’s favorite music lately as I sit here miles away from them and wait. My father has been in ICU, his second time since May, a place he grows restless with, and in a body which no longer resembles the one which moved with such power and grace so many years before. I think of his desperation to be done with hospitals and pills and doctors and how all he wants to do is go home so he can sit on his front porch, watching the random cars kick up dust as they drive by or wait for a friendly stranger with a dog to pass so he can wave hello and connect with world in a normal way again.
The last time Dad was in the hospital, I was there by his bedside. He was like a man in a desert. Dehydrated, but having pulled out of a state which can only be chalked up to a miracle by our family. I gave him the coldest pineapple soda and when he drank it he said to me in a whisper of a contented man, “This is the best thing in the world.” For five weeks, I cared for my father and my mother, as we moved them from their beloved little house in the country, to an efficiency apartment in the city, closer to hospitals, closer to what they would need. Closer to peace of mind for our family. When Dad would refuse to drink more water, I carved up watermelon after ice-cold watermelon and offered it to him for dessert. As his appetite came back, so did his strength, slowly, but just enough for me to capture a glimmer of the man I knew him to be, the wise-cracking, sly, charming and wise man that my father is. Like the baby of the family that I am, I let myself be okay to cry when I said goodbye to him, not knowing what the future held.
I still don’t know what the future holds for my father. I’m trying to think of the joyful times in our lives when I saw him the happiest and in the least amount of pain. My father has suffered from many things in his life but what he teaches me to this day is to be strong and patient and kind. I am my father’s daughter. I know this much to be true.
- 1/2 cup coconut milk (canned)
- 1/2 cup Jarritos pineapple soda
- 3 Tablespoons sugar
- 2/3 cup fresh pineapple, chopped into small pieces
- 3/4 cup seedless watermelon, pureed (start with 1 1/4 diced)
- 1 Tablespoon lemon juice
- Mix coconut milk to combine the cream and liquid in the can. Pour 1/2 cup into a liquid measuring cup or small bowl and gently whisk in pineapple soda. Set aside.
- Puree 1 1/4 cups diced watermelon in a food processor or blender. Pour into a separate bowl and add 2 tablespoons sugar and lemon juice.
- Finely chop fresh pineapple into small chunks.
- To assemble popsicles, pour 2 Tablespoons of the pineapple-coconut mixture into 6 popsicle molds, followed by 1 Tablespoon of fresh pineapple. Place in the freezer for 20 minutes. (Do not insert popsicle stick until the very end).
- After the first 20 minutes, add 3 Tablespoons watermelon puree to the popsicles. It's okay if the two flavors blend a little. Freeze for another 20 minutes.
- Lastly, add 1 additional Tablespoon pineapple-coconut mixture and remaining fresh pineapple to the popsicles and freeze for at least 2 hours or overnight.
- Run popsicles under warm water to release from mold and serve.