Feb 24, 2019


Arosemena Family 1988 

Happy Birthday DAD 

All week I've been especially thinking about my Dad knowing that today, FEB. 24th is his birth date, in 1926.  My siblings and I were blessed with wonderful, loving, caring, parents. I miss my DAD.  

I wish I would've asked him questions about his life, I would've liked to have heard his recollections, his memories, his descriptions, in his own words, his own voice. Most of the questions will go unanswered, all those who could answer are deceased. 

front row middle and right
Grandma Chichi and Grandpa Rogelio
back row, Dad on far left, brother, Ricardo on far right 

Questions about his childhood in Panama. 
What were his most precious memories about his wonderful Mother, our Grandma Chichi ? Memories about growing up as an older brother.  My DAD was similar to his MOM in personality and character, both quiet, reserved, caring, loving and compassionate.  They both could be very social, engaging and funny, when they wanted to be. They both loved cooking and sharing wonderful times with family and food.  They both loved their children dearly !  What was it like growing up with an absent Father ? My Arosemena grandparents did not marry until my DAD graduated from college, he was 25 or 26.  What was his relationship like with his DAD ? He shared tiny hints about the absent Father question, however we never discussed the extent of what that life was like for him and his brother, Ricardo, and their Mom, Gertrudis Varon. The tiny window he did open gave me the impression that it was not easy for them. 

JoAnn & Rogelio 1954 

Questions about how he met our MOM, the love of his life, JoAnn Catherine Rodewald. I know the "Marilyn Sward" version of this question. It was a blind date of sorts, he cooked a wonderful spaghetti dinner for Marilyn and my Mom. This was during their time in Rochester, MN. I never had this conversation with my DAD, never heard his voice describing how he fell in love, why he fell in love. I don't even know how he proposed ? When ? Over the years I heard that neither side of their families were thrilled with the Panamanian guy marrying the girl from Iowa and vice versa. DAD never shared his memories regarding this. I never asked. 


Questions about why he wanted to be a doctor, a surgeon. 
Where did he get the idea, the dream? How did he know about doctors ? How did he know about Georgetown University in the US ? When did going to the Mayo Clinic for training become part of his plan?  The recollections I have which were shared with me by Grandma Chichi, my DAD wanted to be a doctor since he was a young boy, young like 5 years old. I never had conversations with my him about this. 

Arosemena Family, Panama, 1968 

Questions about leaving Panama in 1970.  
My DAD was 44 years old, in the prime of his life. My parents basically closed out their wonderful, successful Panama life and moved us all to Barstow, CA. I know it must have been hard for my DAD, for both of my parents, starting over, what was the that like for them ? I never asked.  I know whey we moved, why Barstow, why 1970; however I never had this conversation with my DAD.  I did thank him many times over the years for having the bravado and courage to move his family to a different country for the benefit our of lives, our futures, our educations. I can only imagine it was not easy for both of my parents. 

Questions about my Mom's illness and death in 1974.
So many questions. So much was lived and loss in those few short years, diagnosis in June 1972, (stage 4 ovarian cancer), death in May 1974. Mom was 45. I cannot imagine what it was like for him. I would have liked to have known, how did they both manage those days. I imagine their experiences were magnified because they were both medical professionals. They had a front row medical seats to one of the most difficult period of their lives. Did they have conversations about the illness, about what they were both feeling ? My Mom approached me during the time she was sick and told me that it was OK if our DAD remarried after she passed.  Did she have the same conversation with my DAD. I never asked. 

What I know for sure:

What I know for sure about my DAD is that he was a wonderful person, a loving husband, an amazing surgeon and he was a wonderful DAD. He loved his children deeply. 

I feel his love in my heart everyday !  I know DAD and MOM are having a wonderful birthday celebration in Heaven ! ! !  

Love you, Elena Maria