On Sunday I received the terrible news that one of my cousins suffered a devastating loss. His 25 year old son, Patrick, was killed in a horrible, fiery car crash the day before. Since then, my heart has been so burdened for Tommy and all his family. I can’t even.
I haven’t seen my cousins Tommy, Carlos, Patrick, Louis and Tere since I was very young, but time has not lessened my affection for them. Mention of them brings back the fondest memories. I loved those childhood visits! Uncle Charlie, Aunt Patsy and my cousins were FUN to be around. Their home was always buzzing with kids and things to do. They lived in the quiet, coastal town of Adicora, Venezuela where the sun was always shining, the breeze was always blowing and life was simply beachy. This was back in the late 60,s, early 70’s when my grandmother was still alive.
Those were difficult times for my parents. Traveling with three and four kids to Venezuela was financially draining, but Dad made sure Mom was able to go. My grandmother was slowly dying with lung cancer. My mother was desperate to be the daughter she longed to be but was denied the opportunity. So she crammed all the love she could into those precious short weeks visiting her parents in Caracas before having to return home to a somewhat isolated life in the States. A life away from parents, siblings, nephews, nieces, cousins and friends. Our Cuban – Venezuelan exiled parents were struggling to fit in to the very different culture of a small textile town in the segregated South, where everybody seemed to be related or at least knew each other’s families for generations. They were stressed, trying to get established, growing Dad’s practice, sacrificing often and raising 4 kids in a foreign country. Mom was suffering emotionally and fell into a deep, dark depression. When it came time to travel to Venezuela, Uncle Charlie and Aunt Patsy’s family home was the haven where I could escape the all pain and just be a child.
I can still feel the newness of the outfit I was wearing when Mom said goodbye, leaving me there at her brother’s house for two weeks that summer. That stiff, girly, awkward hot pink and green flower appliquéd short set they bought me to look nice for vacation. I was a bit of a tomboy, I think that outfit lasted a week.
I ate my first whole snapper, caught fresh just minutes before and cooked over a fire to perfection, while sitting cross-legged in a wet bathing suit on a warm beach in Adicora. Who cares that the fish was staring at me while I ate with my fingers and got as much sand in me as I did fish. It was the best fish I ever ate.
Another time Uncle Charlie took us kids out on Lake Maracaibo, In the distance was a huge oil refinery. My cousins taught me how they fish off the edge of a small boat, holding a metal spool in one hand and skillfully releasing the line without it all dumping out at once. No fancy rod and reel, just a metal spool that looked like a modified bundt pan wrapped in high test line. I saw my first stingray on that outing. Uncle Charlie had a cooler full of ice-cold Polar. I remember it all like it was yesterday.
They spoke of God, faith and their church. My Aunt Patsy loved Jesus and made sure my cousins knew the Lord even back then. Thank God for that foundation. This family’s love for Him and faith grounded firmly in Jesus will certainly be the strength they need to walk through this heartbreaking day.
Praying for God to give you all His peace today, a peace that surpasses all understanding, primos queridos. May you grow closer in faith to God and in love to each other as family. May you be comforted by the beautiful memories of your Patrick, and your parents, until we are all reunited in Christ.