In 1948, he was born in Aibonito, Puerto Rico, the first of four children, all born at home. My grandparents didn’t have much and lived in poor conditions; eating lots of eggs and rice, in a tin house which does not exist today. Despite the lack of money, they were extremely rich in love. As a young boy, my dad ultimately moved to New York and was raised in Spanish Harlem.
By the time Mom was born in 1951, her family had already migrated to New York from Arecibo, Puerto Rico. She was born in Bellevue Hospital on 1st Avenue and was also raised in Spanish Harlem.
Mom and Dad met in ‘El Barrio’ and he became her boyfriend when she was 13. Eventually, he was drafted into the Navy but the separation only strengthened their love. As soon as he was honorably discharged, she married him at the age of 18 and gave birth to my brother at 19. My parents didn’t want to stay in Spanish Harlem, so they moved to the Bronx and lived in the second floor apartment at my paternal grandparents’ house. A couple of years later, we moved to Gun Hill Road until they were able to save enough money to buy a house of their own, which they eventually did. It is the same home I live in today.
My parents were awesome providers and made huge sacrifices to ensure we lived comfortably. They had a total of three children. They fed us, clothed us, loved us, schooled us, sheltered us and placed us all in private school (which Mom always claimed, “Education is the best gift we could give you”). Their hugest priority was always us and for that I love them eternally. They loved us unconditionally and their example taught me how to love my children the same way. Even their love for one another was exemplary. They demonstrated love as a verb.
In 2008, death separated them after 39 years of marriage but it was temporary. Only seven months later, he died and joined her. There was no life without the other. “Until death do us apart” was their mantra and now they rest in peace and eternal love … together, until infinity.
[Photo captured at the Copacabana, NYC, early 80s]