This is a note which I wrote for my brother when I returned home from his burial
My only brother — Jose Tomás Rexach-Rivera
My brother (Jose, Pepo II, Pepito) was born on July 6, 1937. I was born on July 1, 1950. The 13 year difference is obvious but it doesn’t mean that it was the intention of Hortensia & Pepo I (our parents) to have only the two of us. As a matter of fact they were quite busy – Catholic??? …. or the desire to have a big family, like my Dad’s???
Mami had seven pregnancies – 3 after Pepito, one of which produced another son called Jaime Luis. He lived only one day after his birth. Then I came along, the only girl. Luisito was born after me – on July 24, 1951. He lived only 1 year. My Mom found him in his crib – gone with the angels that watched over him.
Hence, only Pepito & I were the offspring of Hortensia & Pepo I.
As a kid, I remember getting into his stuff and, of course, getting in trouble. I also remember riding in Papi’s car arguing about which radio station to listen to – I think he wanted to listen to the American teenage music of the time while I wanted music in Spanish – that I could understand.
How can a teenager really argue with a kid, or vice versa ….?
As the years went by, mostly because of the age difference, each of us went our own merry ways. Pepito – the handsome lady-killer, awesome piano player – went to Mayaguez to study the family trade – engineering/construction. I still was young and stayed at home with my parents.
Eventually, my brother got married in 1964 – I was a bridesmaid – golden dress – (I have a bracelet charm to prove it!!). I grew up and went to study at the Catholic University of Puerto Rico.
Our lives continued in different directions.
There were the usual weekend visits to our parents. He came with his family, I came for the weekend from the West Coast of the Island. I think that that was the major extent of our interactions as adults.
Don’t get me wrong, we were in touch but both belonged to different generations. There were just different interests, wants and needs.
It wasn’t really until Mami and Papi moved to Mayaguez to be near me so that I could help Papi take care of Mami that our adult lives intersected again. I think that at this time, we started getting closer – he visited me when he came to see our parents, had dinners together in Boqueron, watched tv, etc. Vista Bahia Restaurant was a favorite.
We started getting closer as adults. He would stay in the Vista Verde house, which I think he really liked. It was there, in the family room, that he told me that his kidneys were failing. I remember and can visualize the day very clearly …
His kidneys deteriorated and eventually he needed dialysis – a killer treatment for those who go through it. He came out of these treatments drained, complications set in … But, a fighter he was. He never gave up. His faith kept him going.
When I traveled to Puerto Rico after Christmas ’09, I learned many things about my brother that I didn’t know. At the funeral home, people came up to me to tell he was their mentor, he was the best at his job, there was no one like him. He was faithfully religious, read his Bible regularly and lead a life that was ruled, it seems, by the Golden Rule –> Do unto others as they would do unto you.
At the cemetery, Joe, his minister, José, his son (Pepo III), his son Carlos and a Catholic Deacon said beautiful words about him and how he should be remembered and celebrated. At the burial site, friends mentioned funny things that he said and did. His dry humor was always present, his serious face was remembered – he seemed to have a hard shell but inside he was a softie – like our Dad, I think.
I felt like an outsider looking in – into the life of a person that I didn’t know well.
Before he was a husband, father, an engineer and a member of his Church group, he was a son and a brother. The same blood runs through our veins.
It seems as if he lived in two worlds – two worlds connected by his mere existence. That’s the beauty of him – seems that he fit well in both worlds. It was a progression from one to the other.
Looking back, I wish we would have been closer but nothing can be done about that now. The best I can do isl cherish the memories of our growing up and sharing what we shared.
GO IN PEACE, REST IN PEACE
Know that I will miss you.
I will miss knowing that you are but a phone call away.
In the arms of an Angel fly away from here
From this dark, cold hotel room, and the endlessness that you fear
You are pulled from the wreckage of your silent reverie
You’re in the arms of an Angel; may you find some comfort here
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