Wednesday, May 04, 2005


Last night I attended a vigil for a friend, Joe. He was the handyman here at the mobile home park, as well as having a “real job”. Sunday, upon returning to the park from the Alameda Antique Show, the former park manager informed us that Joe had died a couple of hours earlier. He had cancer, starting with tumors on his lungs, and spreading throughout his body.

Joe was always such a cheerful person, and would stop and visit whenever he saw me as he was driving through the park. Everyone liked him. When I arrived at the vigil, across the street from here at the funeral home, there were several park residents, as well as some women that I know from the Senior trips. They are Portuguese, as was Joe (Jose). He was born in Portugal, on the Azores Island Flores, in 1954. The Portuguese are a very close-knit family here in San Pablo. The women sat behind me in the chapel, and we talked about Joe for a bit before the service started.

A printed folder with Joe’s life story in brief was available at the chapel; a great photo of him on the front with his boat and a big fish. In Portugal he was known as a fisherman who enjoyed playing soccer. He played goalie on a team.

The chapel is fairly large, and very nice, with stained wood cathedral ceiling, attractive lighting, very peaceful. The place was packed with friends, and most likely former co-workers at the steel casting place. Joe was only 50 years old, and it is sad to think that he is gone in the prime of life.

The same day that I was informed of Joe’s death, a friend stopped by my booth in Alameda to inform me that his partner, Fred, has cancer. Fred is a great guy, and I have known him since I arrived in California. He used to bring his mother to the markets and shows in a wheelchair, and always checked out the jewelry in my cases. Eventually, he started buying pieces, as he was trying to make up complete sets of high designer jewelry; pins, earrings, necklaces and bracelets. A few years ago, he started selling his jewelry at the Cow Palace shows, and established quite a clientele for the gorgeous high-end sets that he had in his cases. For the last couple of years at the shows, before they were discontinued as the show promoter from Oregon was losing money on them, we had booths across from each other, and could spend the three days of each show chatting and comparing notes.

I was totally distressed to hear about Fred’s illness. He has had several surgeries of the abdominal area, and now the cancer has spread into his bones. He has been too weak for chemo, so his prognosis doesn’t sound too great. He was planning on retiring from his job with the county where he lives, this month, but has been sick for a year. His co-workers have donated sick days and vacation days to help him, a surprising thing to me. I will be thinking of him, and hoping for the best.


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