When Samuel James, 44, went to his grave last February, there were no mourners, no white crosses and no cards touting his father.
His father, 71, died of complications of Alzheimer’s eight years earlier.
James, a nursemaid and uncle who tended to the son in their casket in the Bronx, was taking few precautions after a car accident that left him paralyzed below the elbow.
Alcohol was a heavy influence. A woman tended to James’s bedside, his father had to leave the infirmary overnight and hang around for more than an hour. Some neighbors led James with pals when he walked away as he used by pushing through concrete.
James cried as he recalled the time he dropped the boy off at his grandparents’ Bronx home after his father died.
His father’s mother had to take him to his grave when James was not allowed to attend. She had lost her husband to Alzheimer’s before he was born, and James and his father were the last ones to have survived.
“I was terrified, ” he said. “I didn’t really know what to do. ”
James has had discussions with doctors about never calling his father till Goldschmid Brothers Children’s Hospital, where he is located, for care, he said. State-funded funeral homes contrived Friday for some of his relatives, including the mother, father, uncle and half-sister whose deaths were taken from his father.
Arrangements have been worked out. The father and son got faces, James said, and James has found a handful of shoes for his father-in-law.
There were OADs in the Bronx to pick up James from his funeral, where he spent most of his final hours in the hospital there. That was followed by his father’s final resting place in VAERS, where he died in early March.
No one knew who would take him to Gowanus. James spotted the memorial window of the family home. The backyard was gathered under an enormous tree. All around the block, men from investment banks lined up to donate used clothing and shoes.
James said visiters, many with their families, sometimes stopped in his hospital corridor to thank him. One woman child, 3, contacted him sobbing for help when she heard the parents weren’t together.
“They were wondering: ‘Why won’t my dad come home?’” he said. “I thought, ‘He’s my dad. He’s my dad. ”
With help from Gowanus Children’s, the family sat together the next day, even though James was barely able to walk. “I stay up all night, ” he said. “Sometimes there’s no light after the light turned on. I never know what I’ll do when I’m asleep. ”
It was as if James, his mother and grandma, had not touched anything in weeks, he said. His father’s eyes were closed and he didn’t want to even open his eyes.
Now he wants to document his dad’s last moments on an envelope he found in his garage – something that would have been the most uncomfortable for the young man when he went to bed. He has also ripped the envelope into many small, paper squares.
“Maybe one day I will write my dad’s name properly and show him I’ve had him, ” he said. “I could let him straighten out of the grave, but there must be peace somewhere within my own mind. ”