Eva Vega-Olds (EVO) and Leonardo Vega (LV):
EVO: When I was recording my dad, I was in his bedroom that he shared with my mom. There was the hospital bed in there, he had an oxygen machine, and he was struggling to breath, but I said, “Dad, do you want to do an interview?” And he said, “Let her rip,” and so we did.
EVO: Daddy, where were you born?
LV: Puerto Rico.
EVO: And do you know how long you’ve been in New Jersey?
LV: Sixty-five years. I’ve been here all my life.
EVO: He was a factory worker, worked the graveyard shift, you know so he’s leaving for work when we’re coming back from school. And then later on, he was a custodian and he was always working.
EVO: How do you want to be remembered?
LV: I don’t know…
EVO: Well I plan on telling the kids that you were really loyal, a committed father… funny…
EVO: My family’s the kind of family that if you can’t take sarcasm, forget about it. Like my wedding day, I remember walking down the aisle, and my dad was walking like super slow. And I’m like, “Dad!” And he says to me, “Shhh, it’s my day. I finally get rid of you.”
EVO: Do you remember teaching me how to swim?
EVO: I remember you throwing me in the water and I was screaming and crying like Iwas gonna drown. And I was like, “No, I can’t swim!” And then you yelled at me, “Well then just stand up” (laughs.) Do you remember that?
EVO: When we took him home, he came back to hospice care and the nurses were there. He looked at me and he said, “I think they think I’m gonna die.” And I said, “Well, if you feel differently then do differently.” But every day he got weaker and closer to the end.
EVO: Do you think you’re dying?
LV: Everybody dies.
EVO: Up until that moment, we had not talked about him dying.
EVO: Are you afraid?
EVO: I wish it wasn’t happening right now. What are you most proud of Daddy?
LV: My kids.
EVO: Your kids?
LV: My family.
EVO: Okay, let me end it for now…
EVO: I did the interview Tuesday afternoon and he passed on Thursday night. You know, not for nothing but my dad’s a working class fellow, he bought a home, paid off his home, and was able to die in his home, with his family around him. For him, that was the pinnacle of what your life should be. And I think that he did achieve his dreams.