Tag Archives: brothers

Feel Good 5 Friday

10 Jul

He owned a dark blue Camero and rocked to songs of the 70s . I knew him my whole life. Since I was in pampers… there he was with bell bottoms. Uncle Erick.

It wasn’t easy growing up the way I did and where I did. But having Uncle Erick there made a difference. He was the brother I never had, and he died when he was 44 years old. Rare form of cancer.

His daughter was 10.

Damn cancer.

Heartbreaking when I think about the circumstances. Could happen to anyone and it sucks. I’m 44, and my son is 10.

It hardened me, as it was the first time someone in my inner circle had died so young. Not at 98 after a long and well-lived life. His was unfinished.

But I find pieces of him every now and then. My Dad and Uncle Erick are probably hanging out, drinking a cup of coffee somewhere out there in the universe because coffee was big in my family.

I heard one of his favorite jams and I hadn’t heard it in a while and it made me smile. I knew all the words and I raised the volume. It made me remember his dance moves.

Every time I hear Bill Joel I think of my Uncle Erick. He was a Billy Joel guy and any time this particular song made its way through the airwaves he got his Elvis dance moves twist and shake. He passed his love of 70s music and Billy Joel onto me.

Billy Joel’s got so many awesome tunes, Piano Man being in the top, but these in particular tunes make me think of my Uncle Erick, jamming in his Camero, busting out his dance moves on our brown shag carpet, or watching Bossom Buddies on TV. It makes my heart feel good and we need some of that today.

And while I was jamming to these tunes this week, I also rewatched one of my favorite movies, one I saw with Uncle Erick. This epic parade scene needed to be included in the Feel Good 5, it was a must if you’re an 80’s kid.

Billy Joel

It’s Still Rock and Roll To Me

Billy Joel

You May Be Right

Bill Joel

My Life

Billy Joel

The Longest Time

Ferris Bueller’s Day Off Parade Scene

Buen Camino my friends!

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The Orange Dictionary and One Page Left

16 May

I remember taking a moment and thinking I should keep it. I should keep it.

And I did.

But in my early 30s, after having moved for the third time in four years, it didn’t survive. It got tossed around in boxes and then eventually tossed in the recycling pile. I remember pausing for a moment, thinking I should keep it. It was Erick’s. I should hold onto it just in case, but I didn’t and I remember feeling a little twinge the next morning when it was gone.

That orange hardcover dictionary with the word DICTIONARY in bold white courier font. He used it during his high school years to look up words he didn’t know, then look up those words in his Spanish-English dictionary, and then finally have an A-ha! moment after twenty minutes because he had finally figured out what they were asking him. He could finally answer.

My uncle Erick … he was more than just an uncle, he was the brother I never had, my role model growing up, my compass when I lost my footing. He showed me education can definitely create change. He was the first one in our family to graduate from college. He was there for me when I was learning my ABCs  and stood by me when I crossed the graduation stage myself. I knew when he had his own family he would be a great dad.

And he was …

uncle erick 007

Uncle Erick … very proud of the pumpkin skills that took place here with his daughter.

So when he died of cancer, when his daughter was only 10 years old, it broke my heart. I knew he was scared, not of death, but of not being in his daughter’s life, watching her grow, dancing at her quinceanera, and clapping for her as she crossed the stage in her cap and gown.

I knew he wanted to be there. So I made sure a part of him would be there with her for all those milestones. I interviewed him and made a scrapbook for her. Quotes, advice, stories, pictures. Messages and things he’d want to say to her when life happened, he was able to do that, to say some of those things.

I’d been giving these pages to her throughout the years, and now 11 years later, after her college graduation I only have one page left. One, and I so wish I still had that dictionary, because it was more than just a book of words, it was a part of his road to success. It was part of his work ethic.

But I didn’t know he was going to die when the dictionary got thrown away. I didn’t know he was gonna get sick. Nobody did. He didn’t smoke, he didn’t drink. He got the cancer just because he got it. And now I only have one page left.

I gave her the college page this weekend, followed by a hug and the I’m-proud-of-you speech, and the I-know-your-dad-is-proud-of-you-too whisper in the ear.

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My uncle, who helped raise me, was there that day too, sitting in the audience with me. His words were there, in black ink, scribbled in his slanted handwriting written during the last days of his life. He wanted to make sure he was there, and I was glad to have made that possible, because he was always there for me.

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