Monday, October 18, 2010

Falling leaves

My uncle, Ricardo, passed away yesterday. He was one of my mother's three siblings and her only brother.

What a sweet, gentle man! He called me "Mi rayito" - my little ray (of sunshine). He never married or had children, so his sisters' children became his own. I remember the story of Ricardo being arrested in Cuba for getting caught with 5 lbs. of sugar that he bought in the black market. He did it so my aunt could bake her son a birthday cake (the charges were dropped after the arresting officers were bribed, despicably, a common practice in Cuba).

I also remember when he came from Cuba during the boat lift that took place in 1979. Castro emptied his jails during this mad exodus, but some very decent, hard working people also managed to get out, my uncle among them. The stories he told of the harrowing 90-mile trip on a storm-tossed little boat were terrifying. The thing is, he didn't want to come. Ricardo was always perfectly content with his circumstances. He came because he felt he had to watch out for his sister, Olga, and that was that. Two days after arriving in Chicago he was working. At one point in those early days, he held as many as four part-time jobs at a time. That is my most vivid memory of my uncle: He was always working.

He gave the biggest hugs. He loved olives. He adored me.

He may not have had children of his own, but those genes will not be denied. My brother's son, Colin, looks so much like Ricardo!

He has been preceeded in death by my mother, the youngest sister, and my Aunt Olga, the oldest. Only one sibling left on this branch. ¡Adios, tío querido! Good bye, dear uncle! I will miss you.

1922-2010
Loving son, brother and uncle
Rest in peace

6 comments:

Beth said...

What a wonderful tribute to your uncle. I can see the family resemblance you mentioned.

Nicki said...

Maria - my sincerest condolences to you and your family. Your Uncle Ricardo sounds like a loving and respectful man and you have given him such a special tribute in this post. While he did not have any children, he has clearly left his mark on his family in how he lived his life.

Reds said...

So sorry for your loss. Your uncle sounds like a wonderful man. Beautiful tribute to him!

Jeanne said...

Thank you for the wonderful tribute to a very special man. It's sad he didn't have children of his own, but he clearly loved you and his family.

My sincerest sympathy to you and your family at this sad time. May your memories keep you strong.

Barb said...

Maria, We are so sorry for your loss. What a wonderful story and tribute to your Uncle. How blessed you were to have him near you for the past few years. I think he also looked a little like your brother.

pookiepea said...

So sorry for your loss of such a special uncle. Your nephew definitely resembles your uncle. What a blessing to have such fond memories and photos to remember him.