I agree to meet my father at a Starbucks in downtown Seattle to say goodbye, and I’m sitting at a table, reading, when I hear him singing an old love song in Spanish at the front door: “Te vas porque yo quiero que te vayas.” He’s holding his arms open, like Jesus in a wrinkled Armani suit, with a piece of rope tied around his waist for a belt and another tied around the neck of a wrinkled Evian water bottle, dangling from his fingers. He looks about ten pounds skinnier than the last time I saw him. I get up, and see that he’s not wearing socks.
As the gringos try not to stare from their laptops and business lunches, I go over and put my arms around him so that he doesn’t have to sing the last lines alone. The song is about a man telling his woman that if she can find someone who loves her more, he’ll let her go, and leave with the setting sun—but this time, my father is saying it to me.
He hugs me. “Hello son,” he says, trembling. “How are ju?”
“I’m going home,” he says.
We sit down at the table, and there is nothing I can say. His face is drained; his eyes are cloudy. All I really want to do is cry for him, and so I do, as tears fall from his eyes too. We don’t say anything. We just sit in the middle of Starbucks, crying, until I wipe the tears from my face. He nods his head. “A veces los hombres lloran como las mujeres” – sometimes the men cry like women.