May 3, 1981,
My father came home two days ago and I am still reeling from his reappearance. Oh the cruel irony that he stumbled into his and my mother’s home worn out and looking 15 years older on May 1, international workers’ day! Mother called me immediately in tears infused with hysteria and relief and Julio and I drove as quickly as we could to their house. I scrambled for the spare key in my purse before realizing that the door was slightly open. The two of them were standing there in the vestibule, my mother’s hands cupped around his face, tears flowing over wrinkles that seemed so foreign. They did not fit at all with the youthful, passionate face of my father whose brow seemed to be always furrowed. We stood for a long several minutes and just watched and I turned to Julio and saw that silent tears had also made tracks down his face and it seemed like a complex knot in my chest began to soothe itself and release. I walked forward and put my arms around the two of them and then felt Julio put his arms around all of us. I breathed hard and the knots continued to release with each exhale. The tears slid onto my chest and continued in steady silence but felt surprisingly refreshing, almost like turning dried dirt over in a garden to reveal the rich soil underneath.
I broke the embrace to go to the kitchen and fix some water and mate and warm some empanadas. Mother brought father to the table and he moved ever so slowly. He could not eat very much but I insisted on the water. He did not speak that first night at all as we ate, but I as a bathed him and cleaned his cuts and scrapes gently, he looked up at me and said, “I will not be silenced. We must talk about this, but I am too tired tonight.” I nodded my head vigorously and smiled at him, kissing his forehead. I helped him into bed early and my mind’s questions that had been quieted by the immense relief of the night suddenly awoke boisterously: What did they do him? What did he say? Who did he meet? And, the loudest of them all—how is he still alive? The rumors of intense electrical shock and beating of abducted “subversives” have been simmering for years. My father is 71, and he is so much stronger than I thought he was.
I have been staying at my parent’s house and plan to do so for at least another week. Julio returned home to be with Lucas and I spoke with my supervisor at the hospital about greatly reducing my hours for this month. My father still has not told us all of his experiences but resting has done him a great deal and his appetite is coming back.