As leaves crunch at our feet, we glimpse pink roses in bloom despite our frosty temperatures. We admire the splendor our loved ones, who passed, would savor. We aspire to their virtues. Our friend, Roy, believed so much in our great country, he fought in the Vietnam War before he was a United States citizen. He passed away this week, the day before Veterans Day.
Roy, and our dearly departed, taught us to slow down and cherish special moments. One summer day, Roy gestured to their family garden’s peonies and hibiscus. He cut bleeding heart poppy flowers for me to plant in ours.
Roy’s eyes still twinkled after 50 years of marriage to his beautiful wife Betty. His rich, melodic and deep voice recounted how he immigrated from Mexico and met Betty at age 14. He knew they would marry and start a family.
My brother, sister and I played along the water with their kids, connected like siblings. About 25 years ago, as the waves crashed on the shore of the Indiana Dunes, Roy laughed with my Dad about the beauty of youth. As a Chicago Public School educator, administrator, and coach, he practiced patience and perseverance.
One August, Roy and Betty walked along low tide with my parents on Cape Cod. We ate fresh lobster and danced with our big extended family under the stars.
Roy and Betty’s feasts started with chips, salsa, guacamole, mouthwatering shrimp, juicy steak, and more. A mariachi band performed for some of their celebrations full of tradition and faith. Their daughter Vanessa led the Mexican hat dance while I jigged at an one of their anniversary parties.
Roy prevailed as the strong, positive and loving caretaker during his wife’s ten-year battle with cancer. When Betty’s health permitted, they rallied for international travel, sometimes with their kids and grandkids.
Even as Roy settled into his new role as a widow with health issues, he triumphed as the dapper gentleman. His grandchildren played soccer in his backyard. He listened to one of his daughters teach remote learning during his last days. He spoke with some of the students online and in Spanish.
While we prepare for the first Advent season without Betty and Roy, we remember chopping down evergreen trees with them. We caroled and ate homemade tamales. We honor our loved ones, who now guide us from heaven.
This month of remembrance, we hunker down and pray for loved ones who mourn and grieve. During the pandemic, we dream of an aqua blue sea, the color of Betty’s eyes. We emulate Roy’s mindful perspective. He marveled at moments of joy with a patient commitment to excellence and service. Rest in peace, dearly departed. We’re grateful to cherish a lifetime of memories with you.
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