This summer, Calvary Hospital nurse practitioner Wanda Rodriguez, RN, MS, ANP, was working her regular shift when an older male patient was brought onto her cancer unit. When Rodriguez heard the doctor on duty say the patients name, a chill ran through her. The name was identical to her fathers, whom she hadnt seen or heard from in more than 40 years.
What were the chances of me coming across that name? Rodriguez said. It turns out the chances were greater than she thought. When the patients chart revealed no birth date, Rodriguez became even more curious.
My mom always told me I greatly resembled my dad, so I went in to see what he looked like, Rodriguez said. I asked him if he was comfortable and welcomed him to Calvary. Then I went straight to the questions. I asked if he had any children and the minute he said my sisters name, I just knew.
Overwhelmed by the flood of emotions she felt, Rodriguez excused herself and hurried out of the room. She later learned from the tech who had been attending to her father during the exchange that he had instantly recognized his daughter.The long-lost father of nurse practitioner Wanda Rodriguez, RN, was admitted as a patient at Calvary Hospital in the Bronx, N.Y., where Rodriguez works.
The tech asked if he knew that nurse and he said, Yes, thats my daughter Wanda! Rodriguez said.
She regained her composure and re-entered the room. Rodriguez took her fathers hand and never looked back. She admits to feeling awkward initially, but once they embraced, she knew she had all the closure she needed.
He asked for my forgiveness and told me that the more years that passed, the harder it was [for him] to reconnect, she said. I decided not to harp on it.
Forgiving him provided me with complete closure in my life, she said. Even though hes going to be in my life for a short amount of time, Im OK. Hes OK and Im OK. There wont be any regrets.
Because of the conflict of interest, Rodriguez was not allowed to be her fathers nurse, but she spends as much time as she can with him and ensures her children get to know their grandfather.
I used to tell my oldest daughter, Jillian, Cherish what you have with Daddy. Your relationship with your dad is so special. I missed out on that, but Im living that through your life. I would get such joy from hearing her say the word Daddy, Rodriguez said. When my father came back into my life, she said to me, Mom, now youve met your daddy. Now you can say Daddy, too!
Although the circumstances under which they reunited were dire, Rodriguez says she is blessed. She believes it was fate that brought her father to her hospital, to her floor and to her unit.
We celebrated his 61st birthday recently, she said. I asked God to give him the strength to let him see this birthday because its the only one we would ever share together. I feel like I owe God the world, my life. I have a wonderful life, a great husband, wonderful kids. I am so happy. I have complete closure now.