The Second Father: A Tribute

First published in June 2021 at

Death has unfortunately been something that many families have had to deal with this pandemic and one of those families was mine. Osiris Mora was his name (05-10-21). I’ve called him San Juan for as long as I could remember because that’s where he was from, and I couldn’t say his name correctly so it just stuck with me. Every morning and every night that the weather was good, he’d be outside his building on Orchard Street sitting on his rollator listening to Spanish music on a JBL Clip 3. I’d usually catch him at night because in the morning I’d leave too early.

Osiris was always filled with energy despite having many health problems such as undergoing open heart surgery, diabetes, high blood pressure and probably many other problems that I didn’t even know about.. There is a saying in Spanish that goes, “Hierba mala nunca muere,” meaning in English, “The bad guys never die.” He and my dad were the bad guys according to my mom and his wife. My dad always called him El Malo, meaning The Bad Guy. For what reason, I don’t know, but he wasn’t supposed to pass, at least not yet. It hit my dad pretty hard and he’s not one to express his emotions, but he did.

There is this one memory I have as if it were today. It was when I was around 13 or 14 playing in a little league baseball team called the Sharks. It was a small league in the Lower East Side neighborhood that I’m pretty sure is still up and running. It’s called OLS (Our Lady of Sorrows), and, yes, it’s a church thing. We were playing in Field 4 on a partly cloudy type of day. The field was nice because it seemed like the day before they had raked it and put new sand over it. My parents weren’t able to make it since they were off on a little romantic getaway, so I was staying with San Juan and his wife. He had brought me to the field a little earlier so I could get some throwing in with him. At this time he was healthy for the most part, but was on the verge of running into health issues. I was all warmed up and the game had started. I was a pitcher at the time and that had to be one of the best games I’ve played. We were tied at the 8th inning and I was about to go up to bat. While I was warming up, San Juan approached me with some advice. “Keep your eyes on the ball, even when he’s winding up. And when he’s getting ready to throw, pick up your front leg and swing with what you got.” And I replied, “Oh, I will.” I was up to bat and at the first pitch I did as he said. DINK… was the sound my bat made when I hit a bomb to left field. I ran and ran. Home run! I got to the plate and after celebrating with my team, saw San Juan through the fence with only excitement. I went and hugged him like he was my own father. At least it felt that way. After we were done with the game we got ice cream and made our way home.

While I was on my way back from practice on May 10th this spring, I saw the ambulance at the building door taking down what seemed to be a body in a white bag. The body slid down on a flat piece of equipment that they put you on when you’re hurt. I made my way upstairs with confusion and then, as I opened my door, I saw my father with a face of sadness. He told me. My heart felt like it was going to drop out of my body and the anger filled up inside me. I hugged my father as we both let tears go down our faces. I couldn’t believe it because the day before, San Juan was sitting listening to his music and I was speaking to him. He was telling me about how life was so short and to make sure I have fun as a young teen. It’s always when you least expect things to happen that they happen. My “second father” gone and we are here having to continue life like everything is supposed to be okay. If I had a chance to see him again I would hug him and tell him how much I loved him and appreciate how much he did for me. May he rest in peace.