My father was born in the aftermath of World War II. He grew up in Brownsville, Texas. He excelled at many things in his life. He was a renowned athlete, he enlisted and served his country with honor as a soldier in the 1st Cavalry Division of the United States Army through two tours in the Vietnam War and was injured and honorably discharged before he could complete a third tour.
My Father was an American patriot. The rest of his family were born into the privilege of being Americans; my Dad, he earned that designation. He loved his country without reservation, even when some in his country didn’t always love him. Some today may not remember or may not have even been alive when members of our military were not hailed as heroes as readily as they have been since 2001. It was before my time as well, but my father and his own band of military brothers lived and served our country in an era when it was far more acceptable in some segments of society to use far more acrid terminology to describe these mighty men of valor.
He worked his way through college to a degree in criminal justice. This was no small task given the societal, socio-economic and demographic hurdles my father had to conquer to make that happen. My father had humble beginnings. He was the only child of a single mother. He was raised by his mother and his great grandmother. He worked hard and made many difficult decisions to build upon the life he was born into and give his wife and children opportunities that he never had growing up.
When I first began writing about my father’s story, we were gearing up to go to war at my father’s side as he battled the scourge that is cancer. He was diagnosed with Neuroendocrine Carcinoma in May 2019. After a biopsy, many other medical tests, the non-stop around the clock love, care and attention of my sisters and mother and even a second opinion from doctors at another hospital it turned out that there was nothing anyone could do. This particular kind of cancer is especially aggressive, the doctors said. The mass was too large to operate they said. The harm that this cancer had done to my father’s body was so vicious that the doctor’s said they couldn’t fathom how my father was persevering as well as he had.
But that was my father. He persevered.
The doctors said that this cancer began long ago, it did not just begin in the last couple of months. No one knew. It was happening in his own body and my father didn’t even know, yet he persevered.
When the cancer had finally taken too much of a toll on my father’s body and it’s systems, when the doctors could do nothing to stop the unrelenting march of this vile, voracious beast, when each member of his family who was able to be by his side was able to come to a place of reconciliation with my father for their faults, real or imagined, then and only then did my father heed the call of our Lord, Jesus Christ, to come home.
My father died on Thursday, June 27, 2019.
In the aftermath of this grievous loss my sisters and brothers and I are still trying to find our way to what will never be normal again, but what will have to pass for normal in the absence of the man upon whose shoulders we still stand. While his loss is felt by each of us in our own unique way, the loss is also very much the same for us all. We all love my father.
In life, that love has lifted us up, carried us on and brought us closer to one another as another facet of our common bond to one another. In death, that love weighs heavy on our hearts without the man who inspired it standing here with us to share our lives with anymore. That love will never grow cold because we will continue to share it with one another and with our mother.
No one feels the loss of my father more so than our mother, his wife. My sisters, brothers and I are still trying to figure out how to be here and offer our best support for our mother. Together, though, we will help each other each step along the way.
Now that my father’s battle with cancer has come to its end, for my sisters, my brothers, myself and my mother the battle with the realities of paying for the medical bills and costs incurred while my father endured not one but two hospital stays, travel and lodging hundreds of miles from home and now an unexpected funeral and it’s costs as well, that battle is only just beginning.
We are a middle to lower-middle class family. What we lack in material wealth we have always made up for with our love for one another and our love of God. Raising money through crowdfunding is a hope that we have for meeting the financial challenges our family and our mother will be facing as a result of my father’s battle with cancer and his death. If you feel led to donate financially to this cause, please do. My sisters, my brothers, my mother and I would be ever so grateful. Thank you.