Wayside Cross Ministry for the Wayward sons
Long ago,
I remember sitting upon the ocean’s edge
dreaming of a day when you and me
would be together again
The heavens above, 
securing our love…love without end
Many days alone, 
mired in stone, a broken melody
the angels signaling us home,
together again you and me
In harmony, synchronicities…
the heavens, the seas
You and I
forever pictured in frame
the angels refrain
capturing such a momentous time
And the stars that shine,
shall always remain
. . . just like us 
standing in the rain
Ricky J. Fico


I had received a call from my older sister and she related to me that “Mommy is in the hospital!” 

“What happened?” 

“They don’t know yet! It could’ve been a stroke!”

“Oh no! What hospital is she in?

“Lutheran General in Park Ridge!”

After hearing the news I thought it best if I furlough out of Wayside Cross Ministries – secure a train ticket and travel to Park Ridge.  It’s Christmas Eve and I really should be with my family, especially Mother who I pray will be OK. 

I obtained the conditional three-day pass from the Administration and packed a small suitcase with an assortment of second and third-hand clothes. 

Illinois Metra Train
Aurora Train Station

To go to Park Ridge I would need to take two trains – the first one from Aurora to Union Station, Downtown Chicago – about an eighty minute ride.

And then – walk from the Union Station over to the OTC to catch that train into Park Ridge, oh about twenty five minutes.

All Aboard….

As the train snaked and twisted its way into the city I, at times, looked around at my fellow passengers, some of them in familial glee, perhaps to spend Christmas with their extended family. It brought back a few memories – one when my entire family was together – a one time deal, really!  It was my brother’s wedding. You probably couldn’t tell by the picture but (shhh!) I was homeless then. The suit? I had to borrow it! 

Yes, I looked like a rock star then. Maybe one day I would be, I thought then. I could sing a bit… I could dance a few good moves if in good enough cheer. 



The Fico Family

To the left of me, my father who didn’t own a suit. He was another wayward son – taken in by the specters of alcohol, diabetes and a few too many bad decisions.

Excerpt- Moods over a september moon

November. Late November. The trees are bare now — the last of their fallen leaves swept from the landscape either by eager rake or a velocity of wind. The days are much cloudier now, the brighter days of summer now but a memory.

Ghostly, the people look. Their tans are long gone. So too, is the spirit. It’s a period of transition now. But somehow, we will cope. We must.

            It’s been five days since Thanksgiving. It’s been five days since Dad left.

This is the fifth painful night of watching Mother sit crumpled up next to the window. She is there, paralyzed. She stares down at the pallid passersby hoping one of them would stop and turn towards the front door. She hopes for her husband’s return.

I set a small bucket just below the sill, to stop Mother’s tears from dampening the already-mildewed carpet.  She doesn’t flinch, doesn’t acknowledge me. For five nights now, I have tried to comfort her, tell her that it will be all right, that Dad will come back. But it’s of no use. Each time, I’m forced to retreat. Each time, I try to preoccupy myself with other things, like read or study. But I just can’t concentrate. It’s much too hard trying to focus on Huckleberry Finn’s adventures or Holden Caulfield’s journey through adolescence when your Mother is less then six feet away, appearing like she’s ready to fall through the window to the pavement below, a sure death. 

And today I am saddened by all the senseless shooting and murder in  my beloved city of Chicago, where I was born and where I learned most of my lessons in the humanities.  But we know the genesis of much of the gang violence – the broken home, from which I too came…. 

Homeless Person Chicago

After a long trek I had finally made it here – the Lutheran General Hospital in Park Ridge, IL. My sister, her husband and their kids live here in Park Ridge. As does my Uncle Johnny and where my beloved Aunt Dorothy lived until her sad and untimely death by the ravages of lung cancer. See Forever Dedicated

Park Ridge is also where Hillary Clinton grew up. Just think of what may have been had she won the Presidency instead of Trump. 

Lutheran General Hospital
Advocate Lutheran General Hospital

I entered the hospital. Went to the main desk and stated my nature of business. Was given the room number. I got on the elevator. Got off the elevator.  

I felt like the dutiful son, the son of the reformed mother. Though Mother may not immediately recognize me or she may have forgotten my name due to her dementia and now stroke, I knew that she’d be glad to see me.  I just knew it, I really did!

I followed the long hall to Mother’s room. Unfamiliar faces. Familiar surroundings. Familiar activity.  Unknown nurses and unknown doctors and unknown orderlies and concerned family members amidst the reminders of long ago days…days nearly forgotten. But I know… the nearly forgotten must be remembered and remembered well enough if I was to ever finish my memoirs.

I turned into the room. And then a smile as big as the biggest smile I had ever seen catapulted me into euphoria – for this was confirmation that Mother recognized me and was so happy to see me. 

“Hello, Ma!”

“Are you my husband?” she asked. 

I kissed her on the forehead. “No, I’m your son – Ricky!” She began to cry. 


“Yes, Mother!”

Though she didn’t truly recognize me at first I was satisfied – for Mother was still able to speak and smile and sit up. Perhaps her condition was not as bad as I thought it might be.

Lutheran General Hospital Room

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