My father loved to sing "Wait for the Wagon", an American folk song, probably the first song he learned after arriving in the United States from Marash in 1921. He was nine years old and in the first grade when he learned the song. He was in his 70's when I first remember his sharing the song with me. And he was in the emergency room at Newton-Wellesley Hospital when I last remember his singing the song. It was my signal to call the doctors -- he was leaving us, singing.
I had been at work in Boston that morning, when I returned to my office and routinely checked my voice mail, only to find a message from my Aunt Zabelle telling me that my father had been rushed to the hospital. I ran out of the building to my car, and drove the fastest 8 miles I had ever driven from Jamaica Plain to Newton, ran into the emergency room (bypassing the desk), to find my father laying on a stretcher in a room, unattended. When I called to him, he began to sing. I could barely hear him: "Wait for the wagon, wait for the wagon, wait for the wagon and we'll all . . . , " and I knew he was leaving us. But not yet, my mind screamed, as my voice screamed for doctors who came running and saved his life.