JORGE VAZQUEZ, JULY 8, 1934 - APRIL 5, 2011
How I loved this man. My dad died at the age of 76 last week. During my life, I've made so many trips down to Miami, Florida where he lived. On the flight down last Friday evening, I remember thinking it was the saddest trek I'd ever make to Florida.
Between my sister Sandra and I, we were able to put together a memorial for him that was held at La Ermita de la Caridad del Cobre, a pretty little chapel in Miami named after the patron saint of Cuba. Papi loved that chapel, which is set by the sea, with its mural that included Cuba's history, and attended it often. Since there was no casket, we instead tossed roses into the sea in his honor. Afterwards we assembled at Sandy's house for an intimate gathering of friends and family to celebrate a man who was always filled with life and laughter.
Our relationship might not have been perfect--Mami and my dad divorced when I was about 3--but my father and I loved each other. More than anyone, Papi taught me that you don't have to have a perfect relationship with someone to love them with all your heart. As an adult, I shared many a heartfelt conversation with him. That's him in the picture above, taken at my 50th birthday party last year. My sister affectionately claims he was always eating! He was a father, grandfather and great-grandfather. He was part of that great generation belonging to my mom, Madrina, Padrino, Soledad and others.
There will never again be anyone like Jorge Vazquez. And when I tossed down that rose into the sea, that large part of my heart that belonged to him also disappeared into the waves.