Two Spoke Forums banner

1 - 14 of 14 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
625 Posts
Discussion Starter #1
My wife's stepdad, Luis, died at 8:40 a.m. yesterday (Mother's day). He had been married to her Mom for 25 years, so he is basically the only abuelo my kids ever knew. My dad's still alive, but very distant from us (and not just geographically), so Luis was the one who would come over and drink a few beers, and give each kid $5. He was a good man, we'll miss him, but it's good that he's free from pain. I was very surprised when he showed up at our pigfest in March, as he was really deteriorating, but he loved those parties.

So this is a little online tribute. I'm leaving them in some different places. Kind of like those roadside piles of rocks.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,397 Posts
Sounds like good memories for quite a few people. That's a good way to leave a mark on this world.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
625 Posts
Discussion Starter #7
I went back to work today, and was having a hard time with coworkers wanting to talk about this with me. So I wrote a longer tribute that I posted on our email conference at work, so I would only have to hear people say things like "that was beautiful" or "my condolences."

I don't mind reading things like this, but I have a problem with the prolonged face to face grief. When someone hugs you, holds your hands and talks earnestly to you, and all your thinking is about hiding. I expanded the note for Facebook.

As I wrote it, it made me cry. So here's the new tribute:

As most of you know, my family and I are grieving the death of my wife’s (Ilia’s) stepfather, Luis. As part of my grief process I am writing this note. I hope you don’t mind this tribute. In my travels, I have sometimes seen some roadside rock cairns. Some of these are highway markers, some are works of art, some are sepulchral memorials. I leave this written cairn for Luis. Some of you know how touched I was by sitting on the Eagle Board of Review for Charmaine Brown’s son (Charmaine was a co-worker that died of cancer, about a year after her death, I was asked to sit on an Eagle Board of review for the district, I had never sat on an Eagle Board before, even though I had presented dozens of kids to it. As I'm reading one of the boy's records, I realize he is the son of this beloved co-worker). This is one more story in my evolution of understanding life and death.

Stepfather in law. Doesn’t sound all warm and cozy, just a factual description of our official relationship. Luis (we all pronounced it "Louie") had been married to my mother-in-law for 25 years after burying his first wife. A Cuban immigrant who spoke very little English with an 8th grade education, he worked blue collar jobs in construction and maintenance. For a period of time after retiring from construction he was employed as a custodian by the Broward County School Board at South Broward High School. He was a hard-working, fun-loving man, who enjoyed spending time with family and friends. Whether it was playing dominoes or dancing. Ilia and I have hosted some memorable pig roasts, Luis never missed one. The last one he attended was back in March. Given the state of his health due to a chronic lung condition, I was pleasantly surprised to see him there.

While my own dad is still alive, he is distant from my children. Distant geographically, and emotionally, I will have my own tough issues to resolve when he passes on. Luis, was in many respects, the only true grandfather my boys knew. He was around for all of their births. He was there for birthdays, rites of passage in scouts, graduations, marching band competitions, plays, and other performances. He helped his wife babysit our two youngest until they were each one year old in lieu of daycare. When visiting for a family gathering, or just to visit, while there was a language barrier between him and me, we could still joke, talk sports, and politics. He would enjoy his cerveza and whiskey. He would give each boy $5-10 and tell them not to tell their Mom or Tata. He gave money to help our college aged sons buy their first cars. Don’t let anyone say that we were his second family, we were equal in his heart.

As with many chronic illnesses his condition worsened. While praying for a miracle, the answer to prayer is often to be free of these earthly shackles, and sit at the domino table in Heaven. It was tough seeing him so weakened. In recent months, due to low oxygen levels, he was prone to falling a lot. One fall in the bathroom about 6 months ago sent him to the emergency room due to breaking his elbow. He became prone to bruising easily due to blood-thinning medication, and it would spread to his whole arm. It was hard for a hale and hardy man to suffer like this. It was hard for us to watch. It was hard of us, but particularly his wife, to help him. She’s suffering from her own life-threatening chronic conditions.

So we did what we could. We helped both of them get their affairs in order. Over the past few months, my wife and I have helped them set up their Living Trusts, their Health Care Surrogacy, legal proxies, and their prepaid Cremation plans. In the past month, my wife was often at her Mom’s or at the hospital during her lunch hour or after work. Meanwhile, I would make runs to the attorney’s office, or simply make sure the kids were picked up and fed, so my wife didn’t have to concern herself with such matters, while attending to the eldercare issues at hand.

Then it came down to this weekend. Mother’s Day weekend. We convinced/demanded that our oldest son in Gainesville come down this weekend, as we knew the end was imminent. We were able to get our entire family to visit abuelo on Saturday. At the previous week’s visit, our seven year-old was afraid to shake hands or touch him. He kept clinging to his Mom while in the hospice room. This time we offered him the opportunity to stay in the common area. I was staying out with my wife’s aunt. I didn’t want to overcrowd the room. He had a roommate. I also couldn’t bear to go in and watch my boys say hello/goodbye to their grandfather. I’m tearing up as I write this. But our youngest surprised us and insisted on going in. When it was his turn to hold/shake Luis’ hand, Adam shook his hand and Luis looked at him and smiled. My son then sat in a chair at his bedside. When they came out I went in with my wife to hug Luis, kiss him and tell him I love him. I think it was the first time I ever said that to him. That night, at home, I hugged my youngest and told him how proud I was of him. I dubbed him “The Smile Maker.” Someday he’ll realize how huge his gesture to his dying grandfather was. We enjoyed family time at home with all of our boys on Saturday night.

Sunday morning, 7 a.m. “The Call” from her Mom, hospice called for us to come as quick as we could. I get in the truck and wait for Ilia. The song that came on my iPod was in the playlist from the night before. It was the end of a Stevie Ray Vaughn song, and then Van Halen’s “Running with the Devil” came on. I decided that was not the song either of us were in the mood for, so I thought of something more appropriate to play and put on Bob Dylan’s album, Modern Times. My wife and I drove over to her Mom and luis’ apartment to pick up her mom and aunt. There was a snafu with the resident gate not opening enough for a car to drive through, so Ilia walked in and I drove around to another entrance. I met her at the apartment, and her Mom is worrying about her pork roast in the oven. She had been getting frustrated at not being able to cook for her husband, and she so much wanted to cook a Mother’s Day meal. I told her to leave the roast in the oven and I’d come back for it later. My wife drove her aunt and Mom in her Mom’s car. I drove in my truck and as I was sitting in the hospital parking lot waiting for them to arrive, “When the Deal Goes Down” was playing on my iPod. This album came out in 2006, not long before my grandmother passed away, and this song struck me as I was listening to it on the airplane ride to New York.

In the still of the night, in the world's ancient light
Where wisdom grows up in strife
My bewildering brain, toils in vain
Through the darkness on the pathways of life
Each invisible prayer is like a cloud in the air
Tomorrow keeps turning around
We live and we die, we know not why
But I'll be with you when the deal goes down

We eat and we drink, we feel and we think
Far down the street we stray
I laugh and I cry and I'm haunted by
Things I never meant nor wished to say
The midnight rain follows the train
We all wear the same thorny crown
Soul to soul, our shadows roll
And I'll be with you when the deal goes down

The moon gives light and shines by night
I scarcely feel the glow
We learn to live and then we forgive
O'er the road we're bound to go
More frailer than the flowers, these precious hours
That keep us so tightly bound
You come to my eyes like a vision from the skies
And I'll be with you when the deal goes down

I picked up a rose and it poked through my clothes
I followed the winding stream
I heard a deafening noise, I felt transient joys
I know they're not what they seem
In this earthly domain, full of disappointment and pain
You'll never see me frown
I owe my heart to you, and that's sayin' it true
And I'll be with you when the deal goes down

I swear I wasn’t thinking of this song when I chose this particular Dylan album to listen to. The timing of this song coming on at this moment was uncanny.

So we go into his room. While my wife was handling some logistics with the nurse, and talking on the phone with her brother’s wife in the hallway, at bedside my mother-in-law held his hand, her sister stroked his other arm, his daughter sat at the foot of his bed, and I sat in between my mother-in-law and his daughter. He took his last breath in our company. Having now witnessed birth and death in person, I don’t understand how people can not have hope or faith for an afterlife. Te quiero Luis, you were a good man.

If you’ve read all the way down here, thank you. I love you too.

Peace,

Gary
 

·
Rat Biker
Joined
·
432 Posts
My condolences for your loss
 

·
Total noob (& forum admin)
Joined
·
12,350 Posts
It's too late in the day for me to read that whole post, but I will soon.

I saw my son come into this world, and both my parents leave it. I spent three days in the hospital, telling my dad every joke we had shared over the years, most of which I have already passed on to my son. Then I sad my last goodbye.

At his funeral service, people still lined up outside like they were expecting free pancakes. I really miss him. Luckily, my only biological child is cut from the same cloth.
 

·
YAY BAIKS!
Joined
·
1,507 Posts
They say things will never be normal again when someone passes. You just have to adjust to the new normal.

Sorry for your loss.
 

·
spin... spin.. spin
Joined
·
1,613 Posts
sorry for your loss... there are certain people who when we lose them we actually lose a piece of ourselves. my thoughts are with you...
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,973 Posts
One heck of a man you described there. I wish we had more of them. I'm very sorry for your loss.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
625 Posts
Discussion Starter #14
Thanks for the kind words, thoughts, and prayers everyone

Here's a couple of pics of Luis back in November, he and his wife came over for our 7 year old's birthday



 
1 - 14 of 14 Posts
Top