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    A Personal Letter of Gratitude to the Hospital Heroes

    By Liam P. Mayclem–

    “What are your Father’s wishes? Did he express the kind of care he’d like in the later stages of his life?” These are words you never want to hear from a doctor, but, on New Year’s Day, these were the exact questions posed in an 8 am wake up call to my partner Rick about his father, Manny. It was one of the most devastating calls I have ever heard.

    As Rick pondered the answers, I knelt at his side, and, in my head, I relived the conversation I had with Manny in a phone call the day before. I then said to him: “Keep fighting, Manny. All your angels are rooting for you. We’re here to bring you home.” Manny responded in a weary voice saying, “Okay. Thank you. I’m gonna rest now.”

    Manuel Camargo is a retired University of Arizona painter. He plays the guitar, loves the music of Willie Nelson and Freddy Fender, and right up until this latest turn of events, he could be found on the links playing golf. He has two other sons, Manny Jr. and Angel, and in recent years he has referred to me as his fourth son. 

    It was early December when Manny was first admitted to a hospital in Tucson after being diagnosed with COVID-19. He had a tough week in the beginning, but he is a fighter and that fighting spirit got him out of the ICU to an ordinary hospital ward, and then to a skilled nursing facility for rehab. Then, just as Rick and I made the journey to Arizona from San Francisco to prepare for Manny’s homecoming, he was admitted back into the ICU. It was sudden and serious.

    The anguish of not being able to visit the hospital was eased by the extreme kindness shown by the hospital nurses. A month into Manny’s hospitalization, we were able to get an iPad to him, and for the first time Rick and Manny facetimed. It was a most joyful moment: Rick and his dad were face to face, albeit virtually, once again. 

    On a daily basis, the nurses—medical warriors—take Rick’s calls, and with heart, patience, and kindness in their voices they relay the best news they can every time. They share stories about feisty Manny that make us laugh and cry, giving us a glimmer of hope that one day soon Manny will be himself again, will win this brutal war, and will be homeward bound.

    How on Earth do these selfless superheroes manage the stress and heartache of this pandemic and still go way beyond the call of duty? Somehow, they do. They go to battle every single day. Sadly, not all COVID-19 battles are won, yet the next day the nurses go back in, suit back up in PPE, and risk their own lives to save others. We are simply in awe.

    Manny remains in hospital in Tucson, our daily prayers continue, and the outpouring of love and support from extended family and friends has been tremendous and is much appreciated.

    Our hopes to bring Rick’s dad home have not diminished, and Manny has not stopped fighting. This story is the story of 24 million plus other families in America. But this is the Camargo family story so, to close, my partner Rick has this to say about the bedside angels who are there with care for his dad at St. Mary’s Hospital in Tucson, Arizona:

    “Thank you for taking care of my Dad. Thank you for showing such endurance and resilience. My heart and gratitude go out to the entire medical community who are keeping morale up and keeping patients alive. Thank you for keeping OUR spirits up, for being there with the ones we cannot see or hug, or even say Goodbye to. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.” —Rick Camargo, on behalf of the Camargo family

    P.S. Manny, if you read this, we’re still rooting for you and plan on bringing you home soon!!!

    Emmy Award-winning radio and television personality Liam Mayclem is regularly featured on KPIX as well as KCBS, where he is the popular Foodie Chap. Born in London, Mayclem is now at home in the Bay Area, where he lives with his husband, photographer Rick Camargo. For more information: https://www.bookliam.com/

    Published on January 28, 2021