I enter the hospital room and there he is, sitting up straight in his bed with his bald head hanging low into his hands. Even though I can’t see his face, his thin long fingers reveal his bones. He doesn’t seem to notice me.
Outside the room on the hallway are my mother and his second current wife, the both of them holding guard. They close the door behind me. I get closer to him and whisper his name. Slowly he raises his head.
The illness had eaten away his temples and cheeks, his eyes were some bulging marbles hanging in caves next to his still prominent but thinned nose. Not much was left of his neck and his mouth revealed his teeth even through his skin.
Yet upon noticing me his eyes light up. He mentions my name and a faint smile appears on his thin lips. He says something about how glad he is that I came to visit. I keep on looking at him knowing it will be the last time.
Here is the man who adopted me as a baby with his then wife, my mother now sitting outside on the hallway, and after they got divorced continued to be a welcoming man. In summer I often would spend my school holiday with him and his second wife and their son. I remember him walking around the house naked, visitors or not. He would be sitting on some rattan chair reading a book and I would be wondering how painful that must feel. More so, I would be reading one of his many comic books. From Robert Crumb for example, prompting me to think of my father as Mister Natural and his infinite meditation sessions, or from Heavy Metal, the science fiction magazine containing my first female fantasy, making me not wanting to join in and walk around the house naked myself. I felt as embarrassed as excited.
This was only a couple of years ago and now here I am, not even 16 years old, looking at Mister Natural in his hospital bed soon to be rolling out his meditation rug for eternity. I know how much he has been in pain the last couple of months and how he must be delirious from the morphine in his body. But that faint smile he just gave was genuine and so is the glimmer in his eyes looking at me. It is as if he is now more naked than ever before and all I can see is his soul, smiling at me forever.