MANUEL GARCIA © 1986 David Roth

based on a true story, with thanks to William Janz of the Milwaukie Sentinal for sending me his series of articles

Manuel Garcia, a proud youthful father
Was known on his block as a hard working man
With a wife and a family, a job and a future
He’d everything going according to plan

One day Manuel Garcia, complaining of stomach pains
Went to the clinic to find out the cause
His body was found to have cancerous tissue
Ignoring the order of natural laws

So Manuel Garcia of Milwaukee County
Checked into the medical complex in town
Suddenly seeing his thirty-nine years
Like the sand in an hourglass plummeting down

“What are my choices,” cried Manuel Garcia
“You’ve basically two,” was the doctor’s decree
“Your cancer untreated will quickly be fatal
But treatment is painful with no guarantees...”

And so it began, Manuel’s personal odyssey
Long sleepless nights in a chemical daze
With echoes of footsteps down long lonely corridors
Tolling his minutes and hours away

With the knowledge that something inside
was consuming him
Manuel Garcia was filled with despair
He’d already lost forty pounds to the cancer
And now to the drugs he was losing his hair

After nine weeks in treatment the doctor came calling
Said “Manuel, we’ve done about all we can do
Your cancer could go either way at this juncture
It’s out of our hands and it’s now up to you..."

He looked in the mirror, a sad frightened stranger
So pale, so wrinkled, so lonely, so scared
Diseased, isolated, and feeling unlovable
One-hundred-twenty-six pounds and no hair

He dreamed of his Carmen at sixty without him
His four little children not having their Dad
Of Thursday night card games at Julio’s
And everything else he’d not done
That he wished that he had

Awakened from sleep on the day of his discharge
By shuffling feet going all around his bed
Manuel opened his eyes
and thought he was still dreaming
His wife, and four friends with no hair on their heads

He blinked and he looked again, not quite believing
The four shiny heads all lined up side by side
And still to that point not a word had been spoken
But soon they were laughing so hard that they cried

And the hospital hallways were ringing with voices
“Patron, we did this for you,” said his friends
And they wheeled him out to the car
they had borrowed
"Amigo, estamos contigo ves...”

So Manuel Garcia returned to his neighborhood
Dropped off in front of his two-bedroom flat
The block seemed unusually deserted for Sunday
He drew a deep breath and adjusted his hat

But before he could enter the front door flew open
Manuel was surrounded with faces he knew
Fifty-odd loved ones and friends of the family
With clean-shaven heads and the words “we love you”

And so Manuel Garcia, a person with cancer
A father, a husband, a neighbor, a friend
With a lump in his throat said
“I’m not one for speeches
But here I have something that needs to be said

I felt so alone with my baldness and cancer
Now you stand beside me, thank Heaven above
For giving me strength that I need may God Bless You
And long may we live with the meaning of love

For giving me strength that I need may God Bless You
And long may we live with the meaning of love"