Last week, a gentleman died whom I didnt know but whom I wish I had. I just received the following from his son Dennis, which touched me deeply and which I had to finish reading through tears:
Last Wednesday evening, we lost a true gentleman. The world did not notice his passing and he would have wanted it that way. He was modest and genuine. I always thought of him as my role model and a man of great integrity. One of his close friends told me at the viewing Sunday evening in Miami that this gentleman was the purest man he had ever known. His priest told me that the parish the gentleman lived in for many decades was a quiet but generous supporter of many building and other projects. We have come to learn how much he cared about not just his neighbors but his country and his country’s neighbors. This gentleman was sad the past three years following the loss of his beloved spouse. She who spoke Spanish as well as English, she who so wanted to return to a beautiful city across the water, so close but so far. The evening we lost him, there were so many kind friends who helped so much ease the pain. The outstanding critical care unit doctor, who explained to me so clearly and compassionately that we were losing the gentleman, who, in another world, would be practicing in La Habana. A talented professional who by the grace of God or the malice of Castro, Inc., had parents who left their homeland and brought him up in a free country. Or the nurse who hugged me, or the friends who comforted me, or the priest who came for the Last Rights. All of them good Cuban American hermanos.
Today, we will lay the gentleman to rest at the Florida National Cemetery, north of Tampa. He earned this honor by serving his country in a world war that now seems so long ago, when our objectives were so clear and our unity so strong. If we continue to produce men like him and the good people who helped the other evening, we will surely overcome all difficulties and, yes, even see the day when the children and grandchildren of his generation can freely and happily travel south from Miami. The gentleman continued to always want that for his spouse’s family and friends.
The gentleman was my father, who I will always love and honor.
My sincerest and most hearfelt condolences to you and your family, Dennis. I wish I had the words to express the gratitude in my heart for the love, kindness and support your father so selflessly gave for this community as well as his service to this country. Our thoughts and prayers are with you and your family.