Saturday, January 30, 2016

Uncle Fred

"I came that they might have life, and have it abundantly." (John 10:10)

My dear Uncle Fred went to be with our Lord on Thursday as I was receiving my last chemotherapy treatment. He now has new life and no need for his sick body. He fought cancer for 2 years ending up with a battle that was just too much for his body to handle. He had a strong faith and had prepared to die. He was predeceased by his parents and two sisters, Lourdes and Teresa.

That morning as mom sat with me in the cancer unit all we talked about was Uncle Fred, her baby brother, the youngest of 14 children of my grandparents. There was a definite worry going on that morning among her brothers in Miami as they could not get in touch with Fred. Mom was answering their e-mails and filling me in on what was happening. We did not know until later in the evening that he had died that morning, possibly as mom and I received the Holy Eucharist which dad had so faithfully brought to us. Later in the evening, as I ate my celebratory dinner with Pete and the boys, mom called me to give me the news about Uncle Fred. In a way, there was a sense of relief that his struggle was over. But then the thoughts of missing him began. He had such a BIG presence in our large family.

Uncle Fred and I didn't have much in common, but I have great memories of him playing with us as children. He was typically a very silly person who loved to have fun. He had nicknamed me and my sister, Cristina the owl and Elena the hippo. We called him Freddy the frog. The names came from watching the New Zoo Review on t.v.

At our big family reunion in Miami the summer of 2013 Uncle Fred and I had several great conversations on a deeper emotional level. He was reflecting on life as he had just received his cancer diagnosis and was facing a scary surgery. He had to spend most of the reunion being pushed around in a wheel chair as he had very little energy. Ricky took a liking to Uncle Fred and enjoyed pushing him around and getting to know him. Even in his weakness, Uncle Fred took it upon himself to shuttle family to the nearest basketball court for the traditional family basket ball game. He even had taken care of providing a couple of big coolers full of drinks for the players. He had great skill in taking care of others. He had a heart full of compassion and love for all around him.

We recently saw him and Myra, his wife, in the Keys when we all gathered for my cousin, Cristina and Hans' wedding. He had been very excited about that trip. It was great to see him again. I was able to share much more with him as we now had something in common, a cancer diagnosis and the medical jargon that comes with it. We compared our chemo therapy symptoms and how we overcome them. I was even able to share my oils with him. We were both there to enjoy family, breathe in some ocean air and enjoy the beauty of the island. We were both in need of some good natural therapy. Here is a picture of Uncle Fred with Ricky as we watched the traditional family basket ball game in the Keys.

His wife, Myra, and son, Kevin, as well as his brothers and sisters and many friends did so much to care for him. I pray for them all as they grieve. No doubt that his absence will be felt. It hurts not to be able to attend his funeral in Miami. I just can't travel right now since I just received treatment. There will be plenty of family representation. And we will pray from here. May his soul rest in peace! We love you Uncle Fred, Freddy the frog!

"If anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation:everything old has passed away; see, everything has become new." (2 Corin 5:17).

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