La Unión Colón

The Colón Family Newsletter -- Vol. 6, No. 1 | Editor: Cathy Colón Carlisle February 1998

Michelle Weds Carlos Díaz in New York

We received this lovely e-mail from Susu the day of Michellita's wedding. She wanted to make sure that we absorbed every detail. Thank you, Susu, (sorry, I can't seem to change that in my mind); thank you for writing everything while it was fresh in your mind. We did feel as if we were there!

The happy couple and her parentsDate: 12/13/97

Today was a beautiful sunny day. It was cold but not too cold. A perfect day for a wedding. Believe it or not, Michelle was to get married today. What a day to rejoice! The church was a beautiful small church, all decked out for Advent, beautiful stained glass windows, a gorgeous center aisle decorated with white billowy bows. It was a great day for reunions. Mikie and his new bride Maria were there. Eddie and Linda, Teresa, Stevie (looking GREAT! Thank GOD!) and Denise, Momi and Eddie were all waiting patiently.

Of course, all the López' were there, too: the twins, Beverly, Esther, Enrique, Mandi. (Titi Judy, Esther sends her love.) Everyone was waiting patiently but very excited, so excited that Uncle Tony had to go to the podium and ask everyone to take their seats and be quiet because they were ready to begin. We had already seen Carlos. He greeted everyone at the church door as they came in, but Michelle was nowhere in sight. Uncle Tony announced that the bride had arrived. Rudy and Vivian were across the aisle. I might add that they both look EXACTLY the same as they did when I was 10 years old! (How do they do that?) Anyway, the boda/fiesta was about to begin. I looked over to my Mom. She was already crying and nothing had started yet! First, Carlos's mother was escorted down the aisle. Then Titi Ruthy, escorted by Michelle's old friend Chris, appeared. She was wearing a Carlos and Michelle at the altar beautiful hunter green gown. She looked stunning! That's when I started to cry. The reality of little Michellita getting married began to sink in. Titi was trying very hard not to cry (and ruin her makeup). She and Carlos's mother went up together to light the altar candles. Then Titi was escorted down the aisle and out of sight. The processional music began and we all stood. Carlos and his groomsmen were at the altar. First to enter the sanctuary was Monica, Carlos's sister. She greeted us with a GIANT smile. She looked smashing! Next is the lovely Kivian. Wow, did she grow up beautiful! She is really stunning and MARRIED! She got married this past May. The bridesmaids wore beautiful, deep purple, sleeveless, velvet gowns. They all had rayon sheer scarves that fell to the backs of the dresses. The flowers were bunches of roses, just slightly pink; I think they were champagne roses. Then came Enza, Michelle's forever friend. The love in the place was really overflowing. My heart began to beat fast in anticipation. I had no idea how it was going to feel to see Michelle as a bride. I had no idea how it was going to hit me. I think we all felt the same way. As the doors opened, there appeared Titi Ruthy, Michelle, and Uncle Tony. A hush fell over the sanctuary. I looked at Terri, who was crying; Maria, the same, my Mom too. I don't think there was a dry eye in the place. It's hard to explain. Maybe Vicki will be the only other person to truly understand how I felt. We love Michelle so much. God knows we tortured her as a kid. But let there never be any doubt, we LOVE her so much. She was the little sister I never had and always wanted. I watched her grow into a beautiful young woman and couldn't help but feel proud. All of us cousins share a special bond. We have our Titis to thank for that. I kept thinking about the day Michelle came home from the hospital, and Titi Miriam made that big sign that said, "Welcome home, Princess Michelle." I was so jealous. After all, I was the princess, wasn't I? Here came Michelle, a cute little baby to steal away all the love MY Titis had for me. Hey, I was 7! We all really did love Michelle. We were just amazed at all the hoopla. After all, she was just a baby. She couldn't even talk. I think back and laugh. How silly to be jealous of a baby. As I was standing there on Michelle's wedding day I thought about all those summers in New Windsor. How lucky we are to have such a wonderful family.

Anyway, here COMES THE BRIDE! Michelle was beautiful! Her dress was simple but classic in its simplicity, a fitted bodice with some light bead work. Nothing over the top. Just classy. Her skirt full and taffeta. The dress was a beautiful off-white. Her veil was gorgeous, very understated, just a crown with some tulle in the back; she is a princess after all! Her hair was up in these simple loops and curls, all held up by the crown of her veil. Very a la Grace Kelly. Carlos looked like he wanted to run down the aisle to greet her. The love was so apparent in his eyes. Uncle Tony then made his way to the podium. He was going to perform the ceremony himself. WOW! How amazing is that! I always thought I was lucky to have Uncle Sammy perform our wedding ceremony, but this was just great! A dad performing his own daughter's ceremony. Uncle Tony was so composed. After all, this is HIS little girl. HIS princess! Rev. Samuel Lascari performed the opening prayer. Then Uncle Tony gave a wonderful message about the meaning of marriage. He gave a very true recipe, and I hope the newlyweds were paying attention. He began with the statistics on failed marriages and why he thought that happens. He went on to say that marriage is now (once again) in vogue and many more people are taking the plunge. He reminded the couple that marriage is more than love. After all, love changes. That kissy-lovey-dovey-I-can't-live-without-you-stuff goes away. The real stuff comes next. It's not what the TV sells, but it's reality. So the recipe: love, faith, and hope. The most important, of course, is love. He quoted 1 Corinthians 13. I can't even begin to transcribe how powerful and beautiful a message it was. Next Kivian sang a beautiful song. She has the voice of a songbird, absolutely beautiful. Next they exchanged vows; and again, there wasn't a dry eye in the sanctuary. Next Kivian's husband, Pastor John, played the sax. It was just perfect! A beautiful love song. Michelle is very lucky to have such wonderful friends. Another prayer and the lighting of the Unity candle and voila! They were married. We were moved beyond words. In fact, so moved that all the cousins present just stood there with dumb looks on our faces. We were all tear-stained and just standing there. The rest of the guests were already at the receiving line. Terri looked at me and said, "I don't believe it! Michelle is married. Our princess is now a Queen!" Mikie smiled. Maria wiped away some stray tears. We looked at each other. Denise said, "It was so beautiful." We all agreed. Then Stevie said, "Can we go hug our cousin now? Come on, let's go see our cousin." Had he not said that, we would've just stood there looking stupid. Momi, who had been only a couple of seconds in front of us, had somehow made it to the front of the receiving line. We all laughed and said some things never change. We stood outside of the church and threw bird seed at the newlyweds. Then it was off to the fiesta!

What a beautiful restaurant, and the food -- so DELICIOUS! There was paella, quiche, empanadas, mussels, clams, eggplant parmigiana, fried chicken, deviled eggs, and more! That was only the first course! We had a terrific meal to come. The bride and groom floated from table to table, as if part of some beautiful dream, greeting all the guests, absolutely floating! Terri caught the bouquet. Carlos's friend, Antonio caught the garter. He was then blindfolded and ready to place the garter on Terri's leg. Very quietly, Stevie had switched seats with her. Antonio proceeded to put the garter on Stevie's leg. Boy, was he surprised when he took his blindfold off! We then danced in a circle, and Michelle and Carlos were lifted up on chairs. The cake was then served. It was delicious! Carlos and Michelle DíazWhat a beautiful wedding and a joyful day. Thank God! It couldn't have been more beautiful and perfect if it were planned for a year. Thank you all for sharing this special moment with me. I'm sorry I was so long winded. I just wish we all could have been together. My hat's off to Titi Ruthy and Uncle Tony for giving their only little girl such a perfect wedding. Michelle and Carlos are off to Niagara Falls for two days and then to Montreal for five days. Please pray for their safe passage. They are traveling by train. I could not wish for a happier day for our princess Michelle. She looked so happy and beautiful. Walter videotaped the whole thing. We will have copies soon. Let us know if you would like one.

Lots of love, Sue

Cathy Colón Carlisle and son AlexanderEditor's Page

February 1988

Hola! Hello! Shalom!

This is Cathy Colón Carlisle, your returning editor, coming at you in this Year of Jubilee! For those of you who follow this kind of stuff, this is the 50th anniversary of the restoration of Israel. It is also the Year of Jubilee on the Jewish calendar. In that year, slaves are set free and debts are cancelled. I am standing on the promise of this year being a Year of Jubilee for me in my life, spiritually and financially. It's a biblical principle, so any one of you can stand in faith and trust God for the same thing. I am looking forward to this being the best year yet and will do the same for all of you. BUT FIRST,...

Let's look far back as, say,...14 months! October 1996, to be exact. That was the last installment of the Colón Family Newsletter, at that time written and edited by my wonderful father. He was still in Brazil at the time, hence the name "Brazilian Connection." Although quite appropriate, we had to change the name to reflect the current state of affairs. So I thought, "Well, I live in Bakersfield now. We have a lot of oil fields here. How about The Oilers Review? Nah!" Then I thought, "The Baker's Rack?" Too stupid. I had better leave Bakersfield out of the equation. Well, "Colón Clan" was already taken by the web page address, "Colónnade" by the name of the web page. And then it hit me! Like a ton of bricks! Why not go with what is printed on the masthead? It was convenient, I know. Despite that, I am going with La Unión Colón. Why? Because I like the way it sounds! We're growing bigger all the time, as evidenced by the articles in this issue! I want you to know that I went to great lengths to get these stories! I traveled, I called, I e-mailed! It was tough but somebody had to do it! I mean, not just anyone would try a phone number again after getting a wrong number, but I did. I am dedicated! Speaking of dedicated, I have to thank my father for taking over the newsletter several years ago. He put a lot of time and effort into it; and I know that you all appreciate his hard work, not to mention the boost into the next century! When I first started the newsletter, I had an Apple IIc computer. Once I printed out the pages, I cut and pasted them myself, went down to the copy shop, and copied those as well as photos that I had. Remember those? Look at how far our technology has come! Amazing. Thanks, Dad! Thanks for your hard work, diligence, and for taking us to a higher level of technology. Also, I need to thank Dad for his continued help.He helped me to publish and print this newsletter. I am glad to take back the reins, and hope that I can make it fun and make it a blessing for all of you.

For my contribution to the newsletter, I include an e-mail that I sent out recently. It sums up much of my life in the last 14 months. Except, of course, for Alexander! Did I mention him before to anyone? Can you tell that I love my son? Alexander is talking more; he repeats many words, but is using more and more on his own. And he is very smart, as if a Colón could produce anything else! He'll be 2 years old on April 12th. I can hardly believe that all that time has passed! I have submitted several applications for universities. I am just waiting to hear back. He loves to push buttons, so he may be a computer programmer. Then again, he loves to flush the toilet, so he could be a plumber. Or he could be a hydro-electric engineer! (That hydro-electric part is courtesy of Walter! What a funny guy!)

Date: 1/1/98

I have to share a praise with all of you. Some have heard it, so bear with me. I was driving up to Merced a couple of months ago when all of a sudden it hit me. I realized with such magnitude the depth of healing that God had accomplished in me. It was like I just turned around, and it was done! I didn't know that God was behind the scenes, working in my heart. He's so amazing! So I want to publicly thank God for His grace and His real and true loving kindness. I looked back and realized that I had been splitting in two, right down the middle. It's the only way I know to describe it. I know for a fact that, had it not been for Jesus, I would have had some sort of a mental breakdown. My heart was broken and I was bleeding profusely inside. I honestly felt like I was dealing with the devil himself many times. And yet, through it all, God was carrying me, holding me together. I cannot even begin to express the gratitude I feel in my heart towards God. Words are utterly inadequate. But I do know that I no longer have to question God. In the beginning, when the fertilizer hit the ventilator, I questioned whether or not God was there. I mean, how could this kind of stuff happen to me? To be honest, I still wonder about that. But what I don't wonder about is God's existence, 'cause He healed my broken heart. That's my very real testimony. Some people have testimonies of God delivering them from drugs, praise God for that. Others have testimonies of physical healing, thank God for that. My testimony is that God healed my emotions, held me together, sustained me. Furthermore, just look at my gorgeous wonderful son! He's my miracle baby! When I was at such a loss that I could not pray for myself or even my baby, I know that you, my wonderful family, were praying for me and the health of my baby. Have I ever said thank you? Even if I did, it's not enough and never will be! Alexander was a big healthy baby who slept through the night immediately, and (I know that Miriam is upset with this, but) he barely spit up; and he has a wonderful disposition. Now that may sound like boasting, but it's really praising God 'cause He knew what I could and could not handle. And, of course, now that I am much stronger and now that God has healed my heart, Alexander is beginning those "terrific two's." Right on schedule! When I look at my angel sleeping or even throwing a tantrum, I just think of how blessed I am. At least, I TRY to remember that when he's throwing a tantrum! Anyway, I got off on a tangent, but I had been wanting to share that with you all. I love the Lord, I love my family, I am very blessed.

Love, Cathy and Alexander

Ok, that's all you get from me, at least, for now. Got great stuff in these pages. Read it up! Eat it up! ENJOY!

Although Gigi and Michael did not submit something specific for the newsletter (tsk, tsk), I include this particular e-mail, for its content. You'll understand why.

Date: 12/18/97

Hi, everyone! I have a testimony of God's goodness, and you would have had to be here to believe it. Today was our Christmas party at work. Although I usually don't go into work until 10AM, they asked if I would come in earlier so we could open our gifts. I went to put down the cake I had baked, but they told me to hold it; and they were all standing around my desk. We went to the room where the gifts were; and then they huddled around me saying, "Come see, this is for you." They had turkey and a big basket filled to the top with groceries! All sorts of things: Jello cheesecake mix, macaroni and cheese, a big bag of rice, several bags brown sugar, corn bread mix, canned green beans, canned corn, canned yams, a fruit basket, homemade candies, a toy truck for Isaac, and a Christmas card with two $50's in it. Just this morning before going to work, I prayed and asked the Lord if He would just give me $100 so I could buy my kids gifts. God answers prayers! I could not believe all the things that I received! I also got a vanilla candle in a pretty Christmas glass and a pair of silver earrings. I stood there, I just could not believe my eyes. God is a good God. I thanked every one of them with tears in my eyes. Even now, as I think about it, I am getting teary eyed. All of this came out of their own pockets, including the money in the Christmas card. Before the party, they had all talked about going Christmas shopping and all the things that they would purchase for their own kids. When they asked me, I just told them it was not happening that way in our home; but that God is good, and He would supply all of our needs. And He did! Later, when I went back to my desk, there was a white sheet of paper that said, "Gigi, Merry Christmas! We love you!" and it had a $10 bill stapled to it. The Lord has been so good to us this year. He provided for our every need. I thank Him daily for His love. His mercy endures forever and it is His mercy that has given me favor with man. This is my testimony; and with that, I say, "God bless everyone of you. Keep working the Word with your faith and do mighty things. God is good!"

Love, Gigi

Joshua, Jordan, and Jamison Pamer (The Demolition Squad!)

This just in from Catherine and Sean Pamer's corner of the world. Jamison started walking on Christmas day! He really did, I was there and can corroborate her claims! The preschoolers are Joshua (3), Jordan (2), and Jamison (1). Sean still works for GTE (cellular phones) and is loving it. Catherine tosses her hat towards domestic engineering, but says, "I'm thinking of going into domestic marketing. 'The Demolition Team for hire!' " She states that their house is always a side project; but if I do say so myself, I think they are doing a pretty good job. Of course, our tastes are very similar, so that could be the reason! She says that they are not taking any classes but that her goal (and probably Sean's, too) is to survive until school starts. Their New Year's resolution is to make it to church on time. That would probably be mine, too, if I had three toddlers! They went on a trip to San Luis Obispo for a wedding, and she relays that the kids had a great time on their first visit to the beach. Next on the agenda is a trip to the snow. More pictures of these gorgeous boys can be viewed on their website.


Rosie sent us a special e-mail which I want to include with the newsletter. I was very touched; I am sure you will be, too.

Rosa María Colón CapóA Happy New Year to each and everyone of you. I want to wish you all the best in 1998. I am personally thankful to the mighty God for the triumphs of 1997. I don't want to bore you with my account of this past year, but I am anyway. The year began in its usual manner. One thing was different and that was Suzanne's pregnancy. That was a happy event that we had all looked forward to. On the other hand, we began the year with a very sad and difficult situation. On December 18, 1996, Miguel had an unfortunate accident at work; he had fallen 20 feet from a scaffold. When Elaine called to give me the news, my heart skipped a beat; and desperation began to set in. That weekend, Ruthy, Tony, Eddie, and myself took the first of many trips to visit him and to encourage him to get better. He went through many difficult times. Finally, we were able to get him transferred to NY; and as time went by things began to get better for him and for us. You all know how crazy I am about shopping on December 26th right after the Christmas rush. This is when I buy all the ornaments I gave to some of you, mostly Ruthy's. Well, this time I shopped for the promise of another granddaughter. Stuffed animals, carts to pull the animals in, a very special Christmas tree of her own with all the miniature ornaments, a train base that goes around, and a dog that sang Christmas songs. All these and more were stored to be brought out for Christmas of 1997. As the year progressed, things didn't get easier. We had some trials and tribulations. Just the year before, I had a talk with Steven on the phone. I could hear my son's desperation, but was unable to do anything about it. The miles that separated us were there for a purpose. Steven made it a habit of calling me when he couldn't handle things anymore. I agree it has taken years off my life, but what is a mother to do? (Perhaps it is my mother in me.) Finally, someone came to my mind: God. He has helped me in the past. Why not now? Steven asked me if I would pray with him, and I said yes. He wanted me to go to church. In desperation, I agreed. I said, "Tomorrow morning, I will get up nice and early; and I will go to the first church I find," That was a promise. Sue was in Florida visiting Walter's parents. I went to church the very next day, and have been going to church since. I went to every prayer and Bible study meeting, keeping Steven in their prayer list. I didn't hear from Steven for a while, and was afraid to ask the family in CA in fear that something horrible had happened to him, and no one was telling me. On March 10, Samantha Maria was born. What a wonderful blessing! More trials and tribulations began when Samantha was thought to have to undergo an operation due to intestinal problems. Again, I went to the Lord, begging Him to have mercy on us and heal this beautiful baby He had just given us. Samantha was just taking her time about going to the bathroom (in the diaper, of course). God in His mercy gave us another triumph; she did not require any kind of surgery. On June 29, Samantha was baptized. The very church that I sought became the family church for Sue and Walter. We became official members of the church as of February 1997. Another triumph; during the month of August, I had a wonderful guest: my gracious granddaughter, Elaina Rose. She spent ten days with me and Eddie which we will cherish forever; thank you, Elaina. She enjoyed playing with her little cousin Samantha, and took lots of pictures with her. We had planned to take her to Disney World, but did not tell her until the day we were leaving; and, I must say, it was a great surprise. We met some friends and stayed with them at the Disney resort. To this day, I miss her and wish she could have stayed longer.

In the fall, I participated in a church retreat. We shared and prayed most of the time. It was one of the most rewarding experiences of my life. We had a chance to reflect on our lives and the important people in our lives and God. Each time we shared, I would mention my concern about my oldest son Steven and how I wish I knew that he was okay. Everyone prayed for Steven and would always ask me if I had heard from him. Shortly after that, Steven called and informed me that he was in NY. Here we are at Ruthy and Tony's for Thanksgiving. Sue, Walter, Samantha, Eddie, Michelle, Carlos, Steven, and Denise. Just one year since that phone call last Thanksgiving of 1996 when in desperation I agreed to go to church.

December came and with it the news that Michelle and Carlos wanted to get married, and so tough times began again. I wanted to help my sister as much as I could. So I added her and Tony to my prayer list and began to plan how I could help in the planning of the wedding that would take place December 13, 1997. I thought, this is my sister's only daughter. Having just one daughter myself, I began to feel what she must have been feeling. The question was, how do I alleviate Ruthy from some of the stress? Sue and I began to plan how we could help her, and the rest you know. Another triumph for us. Michelle and Carlos are doing very well, and Ruthy and Tony survived it without a scratch. Christmas came and we all had a peaceful dinner (at Ruthy's, of course). Samantha was sick so we didn't make too much noise. We always miss those family members that were once part of the EAST group.

There are many things to thank God for. I thank Him for all the trials and tribulations because without them I might not be aware of the triumphs in my life. I thank Him for my life extension and for being able to write this for my family. I thank Him for allowing me to understand how precious life is and how important it is to live it to the best of our ability. I thank Him for helping Steven; I know he is not out of the woods yet, but I have faith that he will become the man he wants to be: an honest, caring, and loving person. I thank God for my children, who have always been my concern. I might have inherited this from our parents. I thank God for my son Peter, who is doing well by God, and his family. I thank God for keeping Sue, Walter, and Samantha close to me and allowing us to share the faith and the love that only a loving God can offer. Steven will always be in my prayers along with Denise, Sue, Walter, my precious Samantha, Peter, Renee, Mario, Janae, Elaina and Stephany. The memory of my own mother praying for all her children taught me that there is nothing more powerful than a mother's prayer.

This new year I want to pray for guidance. I have been named Co-Chair of the Education Dept. of our church. I hope that with His guidance I can create an atmosphere for these children so that we might have a positive impact in their lives. I also pray that God helps me facilitate activities that will encourage participation and growth in attendance in our Sunday school. On a personal note, I ask each member of this family to keep me in your prayers. As Miguel has always drilled into us, this year I want to be more in contact with my health. I need the courage to step into a doctor's office without fear. And lastly, this year we hope to have a family reunion. I leave you with one request, and that is to pray.

Love to each one of you, Rosie

Here's a contribution from Sammy, imported from P.R., going that extra mile to bring these stories!

Justin Samuel ColónJesse David Colón

This year saw some good things happening and some not so good. The ministry expanded greatly; we took over the homeless shelter, and jointly (with Teen Challenge) we operate "El Albergue Nuevo Comienzo." We have opened a second soup kitchen, "The Love Kitchen" or "La Cocina del Amor." We serve over 300 meals daily. Presently, I am a supervisor of nine different rehabilitation programs. They include an AIDS hospice, an outpatient clinic for HIV+ patients, an adolescent boys home, prison half-way houses, and drug and alcohol rehab programs. The church is doing well; I was able to put 50 volunteers to work in the streets through a grant that I helped write to Americorp VISTA. Each VISTA volunteer receives a stipend of $695/mo. and earns a scholarship of $4725/yr. of service. I supervise the directors of these programs and set up staff training for each center.

Chickie is doing fine and is working with AT&T of Puerto Rico (cellular). She started a children's church that is growing, and she does counseling in the church. Her mom moved in with us (her name is Carmín) after her dad passed away; it's a blessing to have her. I think she loves her son-in-law more than her daughter, but shhh, don't tell her, ok? Justin is finishing up his first year of college at the University of Puerto Rico in Río Piedras. He is studying political science and wants to study law. He's doing well, so far. Jesse is in the 10th grade and is also doing well. Jeremy will be graduating from 6th grade this year, and he prefers sports over the academic stuff. Jesse is the sound technician at the church and also the drummer for the church band. Justin serves as an usher in the church; he's over 6 feet tall! That's about it for the news department of Puerto Rico!

May God bless La Gran Familia Colón and may the re-dedicated newsletter -- La Unión Colón -- live up to its name and serve to unite us even more!

Love from la familia Colón-Arroyo

This special report about Samantha Maria Cheruk comes to us from our roving reporter, Suzanne Cheruk. Susu goes to great lengths to get her story; she went through labor for this one! Talk about a dedicated employee. This girl needs a raise!

Samantha Maria CherukQuerida familia, as I sit here, I can't begin to sum up this past year. It's been more than I could have ever imagined. This past year began with me as big as a house and growing. Sam (we didn't know then if we were having a boy or a girl) was just a fantasy. We had no idea what to expect but all to hope for. We just wanted a healthy baby. As March grew closer, I began to get apprehensive. I was having trouble with my asthma and feeling the weight of the young life growing inside of me. My emotions were all over the place. In the beginning of March, I began to feel contractions. Sam wasn't due until March 21st, or so I thought. On March 3, I started to have complications. I was bleeding for some unknown reason, and my doctors wanted me to go to the hospital. Walt and I were scared. We didn't know what was going on. We were worried about Sam. We were also worried that for such an active baby suddenly she was quiet. We rushed to the hospital in NYC. There I was admitted and stayed for 3 days. They never found out why I was bleeding, but they did tell me that I was surely having a girl and that she was 8 lbs., 9 oz. It was just an estimate, as the sonogram technician told me. We were sent home on Thurs., March 6. I was still in "pre-labor," but they thought I'd be more comfortable at home. On Friday, it was back to the doctor's office for a re-check. I was in a ton of pain and thought I would die at any moment from the torture! Nothing. No baby yet; they told me to go home, relax, and have a glass of wine. I decided to go to the mall with my girlfriends and Walter on Saturday. I wanted to progress and thought the walking would help. The contractions were so painful and hard. They came about every 5-8 minutes. Still nothing, no baby. Mind you, I haven't really eaten for days. Just soup and light stuff. I was fearful that I would eat a full meal and then go into hard labor and really be sick. Finally, on Sunday I gave in. My contractions were still 5-8 minutes apart and no progress. I decided to eat! Momi made arroz con habichuelas y pollo. I ate like it was my last meal. Boy, was that GOOD! Right after I ate, something strange started to happen. I sat down on the sofa and felt water dripping. I thought I was surely losing my mind. There it was again. Every contraction, I felt water dripping. I called my friend Traci; she just had her second baby 3 weeks before. She told me to call my doctor immediately! I thought, "Oh great, I eat a huge dinner, and NOW Sam decides she wants out!" I call the doctor and he tells me, "That's it. Be at the hospital tomorrow morning at 7 a.m. You're having your baby!" Wow! Talk about being overwhelmed. We quickly called our families and close friends. Tomorrow is the day! March 10. That will forever be Samantha's birthday! Needless to say, I hardly slept at all that night. I woke at 5:30 a.m. to shower. My last morning being pregnant! I used to talk to Sam every morning as I dressed. She would respond with a kick or a jiggle. What an amazing feeling that was! I was very scared. I had no idea what to expect, but I was in so much pain that I didn't care. I just wanted to hold my baby in my arms and let this all be a memory. Walter was great. He held me and told me things were going to be just fine. I was having contractions every 3-5 minutes now and in a lot of pain. I would squeeze his hand on every contraction. Even while he was driving (not an easy task considering we have a stick shift). It was a beautiful winter day. There was a fresh dusting of snow on all the trees. A beautiful day for a baby to be born! Upon examination, they found that I was 3 cm dilated! I couldn't believe it. No wonder I was in so much pain. We went on throughout the day without a hitch. My two favorite people were with me. My mother and my husband. Mom did a very important job; she watched the fetal monitor and told me when a contraction was approaching, peaking, and most IMPORTANTLY going AWAY! I never thought I would want to know all that, but it was so helpful. Walter was my rock, holding my hand, telling me not to cry, reminding me how wonderful the baby would be. Where would I be without them? As time went on, the doctors realized that Sam was posterior and looked like she was too big for me to deliver. They started talking about a C-section, which really wasn't part of my plan. Those of you who know me KNOW I don't do anything without a plan. I asked for silence. I needed time to pray for strength, to pray that my fears did not take over and paralyze me. I so wanted to deliver my child naturally. When it was inevitable that Samantha was not going to be born without surgery, I was ready. I was frightened but I felt that God was with me and that we would be just fine. Samantha was born at 10:16 p.m. on Monday, March 10, 1997. All I remember from her actual birth was Walter stroking my forehead, telling me to relax, and her cry. Boy, did she cry! I've never felt so much joy in my life. I was too out of it to see her, but I heard her! Her cry made my heart SING!

It was a long road to recovery with more trials and tribulations, but I discovered something: I am made of VERY strong stuff, that my faith in God was always there to comfort me and assuage my fears, that I was married to a truly amazing man. Most of all, my mother was there to hold my hand along the way. I discovered that the love I thought I had inside of me was nothing, nothing, compared to the love I now felt for my little family and my wonderful mom. God, I thank you for giving me this special time with my mom. She has made my life such a wonderful, secure place. She has taught me all about love, friendship, and most of all, how to be a mother. I can't begin to describe all the emotions I have felt this year. I thank God for Walter, too. Where would I be without him? I would surely crumble without his strong arms around me telling me I could do anything. When I was so sick and couldn't hold my head up, he held it up for me. When I was so scared I couldn't move, he stroked my cheek and forehead and told me all would be just fine. When I thought I could not handle another day without sleep, he told me what a wonderful mom I was becoming and how proud he was of us. What did I do to deserve these two wonderful, giving people?

What has Samantha given me? She has given me a whole new heart. I now have two hearts; one that I was born with and one that Samantha gave to me. When I held my new baby, I just thought I would explode from the love I felt. How was it possible to love so much? I prayed that I would do right by her, that I would always be there for her to listen, to encourage, and most of all, to love. Every day of Samantha's life I write a short letter to her. I just tell her about her day. Nothing monumental. Mostly mundane stuff. I wanted her to know how much I love her and how much she changes every day. Her first smile, her first coo, and so on, mostly how much she has touched me and changed my every day. I am so blessed to have been able to spend the first 9 months of life with Samantha. So lucky to have spent it with her without the distraction of working. It was truly special. I felt like a new person. In fact, I am a new person. I'm Samantha's mom. That's the proudest accomplishment I can claim, not graduating from college, not getting the job of my dreams, NOTHING! I am so happy just to spend my days playing and caring for Sam. It shows, you know. She is a very happy, joyful, sweet little girl. She loves everyone around her. She greets us all with big smiles. This year is the year we became adults. Walter and I have been so blessed with a good life. We found love early and friendship that has weathered many storms. I never knew how much I loved my husband until I saw him look at his new baby girl. Now when I see the delight in her eyes when she sees her daddy, my heart just smiles. Just yesterday they were playing hide-and-seek. You had to see Samantha running (yes, running!) after her daddy laughing hysterically! Yes, she kept falling down but what delight! She loves music and loves to dance. I guess I could go on forever and bore you beyond measure. I won't. Thank you for indulging me. I have never been happier in all my life! And never been more TIRED!

Love, Walt, Sam, and me

Gary and Judy Nightengale...and from the Nightengale corner of the world, here's the latest.

We are all well, for which we give thanks to God. This past year saw Marcus's graduation from Bakersfield High. Melissa's turn is coming up in June. I'm planning a party for Melissa, SO everyone should plan to be here the first Saturday in June. Gary is still managing Terry Roof Truss in Lancaster, although his office is here in town. The business continues to grow. He is now in the process of expanding the yard in Lancaster. Hopefully, his company will build another one here in Bakersfield this year or in 1999. I'm still teaching school and studying, S-L-O-W-L-Y working towards an administrative credential. I attend seminars monthly and substitute for principals a few times a year. Marcus is now attending Bakersfield College full time. He is adjusting well and seems to enjoy his classes. He even likes calculus. Is that weird or what? Melissa has actually completed the credits for graduation; however, she is taking child development and another class so that she can graduate with her class. She has developed quite an interest in photography; and because of Alvaro's generosity, she has been having a blast using his very expensive camera to shoot at will! We'll send some of her work to Catherine to be put on the web site photo gallery. We took a few vacations last year. Gary and I went on a cruise with some friends to Ensenada, Mexico, last Valentine's Day. Coincidentally, Jorge and Patricia were in Ensenada at the same time. It was fun visiting with them and our friends. In October, we camped in Morro Bay, and the kids each took a friend. We had a good time canoeing in the bay and seeing the wildlife up close. We actually had a few staring contests with seals and sea otters...eyeball to eyeball! Cute! And the weather was perfect.

Life around here is pretty quiet. I stay busy working, studying, playing tennis (whenever the sun comes out), and working out or walking with friends. I'm enjoying being a co-leader at a weekly women's Bible study group. Marcus is not playing college basketball anymore, so, at least for this year, we get to see him more often. Melissa is babysitting twice a week and does her independent studies once a week. Poor Gary just works, works, works. Rather than hire a gardener, Gary and Marcus do all the yard work.

We are truly blessed and very thankful for Marcus and Melissa. They are typical teenagers in lots of ways but atypical in others. We appreciate their uniqueness and enjoy knowing them better every day. We love you all.

Love, Judy and family

Michelle Díaz, Michael Rosado, and Judy Nightengale...from the desk of Michael Rosado...

Bueno, people, here are my highlights for the past few months. In September, I began my final group of courses for my accounting major. Corporate/Partnership Taxation, Auditing, Marketing and Strategic Bus Mgmt. Tough classes but I got three B's and an A Bus. Mgmt. I now have over 120 units and a GPA of 3.30. Over the summer I decided that I wanted to be an internal auditor. I am considering certification as a Certified Internal Auditor (CIA). The qualifications are slightly more than those for a CPA, so when I pass the CPA exam, I'll be most of the way there. I am involved in my accounting fraternity, Beta Alpha Psi, which helped me get over a dozen interviews. Due to a depleted job market, I continue to send out resumes and cover letters in the hopes that someone will give me a break. My fraternity awarded me a scholarship for the committee work I did on its behalf. I also advertise my services as a web site administrator. There is a decent possibility that I may be able to get a job with a local internet service provider as an HTML programmer. Although not my major, I would enjoy that type of work just as much.

In January, I enrolled in what should be my last 3 classes. Having already walked in the graduation proceedings last spring, this should complete my degree program, which means I will have a B.S. in Accountancy by May 21. I signed up for a CPA review course in preparation for the CPA exam. I will have no personal life to speak of; most of my spare time will be intense studying. The review period is highly stressful and requires a great deal of sustained motivation and concentration. I can only hope that I'm up to it, but at the moment I am enthusiastic. I just want to get this over with as soon as possible so that I can proceed with my career. Believe me, when I finally finish this episode in my life, YOU'LL HEAR ABOUT IT! Well, that's about all I have to share for now. My love and prayers are with you all.

Michael Rosado, webmaster

...and be assured that you are in our prayers as well.

As most of you know, John-John is online now. I tried to keep it a secret for a mere week, but you know this family! If someone smells a secret, LOOKOUT! They won't rest until they find out! John and Danielle married 11/29/97, and John Paul Jr. was born May 29. Danielle told me that she's been telling John that he needs to get in touch with his family, and he tried to say that our family gets in touch only once in a blue moon. Well, I set her straight so she could set him straight! We like to keep in touch, and now it's soooo much easier online! Hope this helps, John. We have missed you greatly, and we are thrilled to have you back! Here is a special note from John.

John Paul, Danielle, and John Paul Colón Jr.By now, you all know that I have a new family. The past two years have been difficult, tremendous, and exciting. Times were difficult for me when I chose to leave my home and divorce Michelle. I did not know if it was the right choice at the time; however, as I reflect back, I know it was. That choice probably saved my life. After the separation, I withdrew from my family and friends; that was my way of coping. It wasn't painful separating from Michelle. That, I can honestly say, was inevitable; but separating from my girls was devastating. They were the reason I stayed so long. I chose not to bury my sorrows in a bottle or anything else as I had done so many times before. That only gives false hopes, like you're dreaming, and when you awake, it's going to be all better. Instead, I chose to go on, and shortly after, I met Danielle. We had something in common, both being from Massachusetts, but there was more than that. She supported me and asked for nothing in return. It was easier for me to deal with someone that I wasn't close to. I didn't feel embarrassed (with Danielle) that I had not been able to work out the problems and save the marriage.

Danielle and I have a wedding glass that truly sums up our relationship: a glance, a smile, grew into a friendship, then into love. We had tough times together, but she stood by and helped me through each day. We now have a baby boy; his name is John Paul Colón Jr. His birth has helped the healing. He is a beacon of light in my tunnel of darkness. He cannot replace my girls and the sorrow I feel, but he reminds me that my girls will not forget me and that we will be together soon.

We are presently living in Wildwood, NJ, in a small three-bedroom house. However we will be moving to government quarters in April. Danielle takes care of John Jr. at home, which gives us peace of mind. As for me, I am a drill instructor at the US Coast Guard boot camp. It's difficult and it's physically and mentally demanding. Some kids come from tragic upbringings and choose to share that with the drill instructors. One memory that comes to mind is when a recruit's sister was murdered. I escorted him to the chapel. All the way he kept asking, "Sir, is everything all right? Sir?" I wanted to tell him, but policy is that the Chaplain handles that and with good reason. After the Chaplain told him and he calmed down a bit, I was ordered to escort him to the ATM machine so he could withdraw money for his trip home. As we exited the building, he looked at me, and I could see the pain in his eyes. He collapsed in my arms, and I held him until he was strong enough to walk; and we accomplished what we needed to do. An hour later, I was in another recruit's face telling him how undisciplined he was, reducing him into a puddle of sweat on the deck. Every once in a while I still see that one kid's face, the hurt in his eyes, and know that I was there when he needed me; and that's why I do the job. Sometimes I bring the job home, and Danielle says that I have to leave it there, but it's hard. Every day I feel your prayers sustaining me when I get weak. I can still hear Jerry Kaufman say, "Someday you will be a father to the nation." Maybe this is what he meant. All my battles have not been fought, so I continue to press on. My new family is a tower of support, and my old family is the foundation of strength that will not allow me to give up! Love to all!

John, Danielle, and John Jr.

Concepción (John) Colón Capó (1944 - 1968)Remembering Johnny

This is a very special retrospective of Uncle Johnny. I realize that this may be a little tough to read. It was tough for me, and I didn't really know him. Reading these special words about Johnny reminded me of when Judy and I attended Pompo's memorial service. We met several of Pompo's good friends; and I met Hiram, Betsy, and Doris for the first time. I remember listening to his friends describe Pompo as "El Diablo," and it occurred to me that they were describing our whole family. It was also evident in meeting his brother and his sisters for the first time that I KNEW we were related. I had no problem connecting with them because we are all so much alike. I see that here, also. When I read these words about Johnny, I realize that we already know him. I won't have a problem recognizing him in heaven. It was for that reason that I asked his brothers and sisters to share their memories of Johnny, and here are their thoughts.

Remembering Johnny -- By Jorge David

Well, his name was Concepción, but we called him "Con-cón" with a lot of love. There was, after all, a lot to love. He was a free soul and what I always remember is his smile. I see him as a little guy, laughing a lot. That's my picture of him...forever. On Dec. 12, 1944, just before midnight, he made his presence known to Mami; and I am sure she screamed a little, only to be surprised again a few minutes later by his twin, Miguel. They created quite a stir around the family, and two more beautiful boys would have been hard to find anywhere. We were a family of little means, but at that time, nothing -- not even hitting it big in the lottery -- could have made us happier. We enjoyed their infancy and their growing up. Of course, they HAD to grow up! As their big brother, I figured it was my duty; yet it was tough to look after that pair! It seemed that they were always doing something that I had to stop. One of those things was getting into the ditches along the street that were full of filth. No sooner had I taken one out than the other was into it. They also had a habit of going to the Teneria, which was the lower part of the Guayama River where, as a natural consequence, most of the sewer run-off collected. It was a wonder they survived!

I left them in P.R. around 1950; they rejoined me in the Bronx a few years later. I did not know all the problems they were to get into with Papi as I left them in 1954. I've heard the stories during that time; and I remain in awe how any son of Papi could have possibly had the temerity to defy him, ignore him, or disobey him. Even so, I also remain in total disbelief that any son of Mami would do anything to make her cry. Even today, my tears flow as I feel her pain then. Being no expert, I can only speculate that something evil took place then, perhaps because it had to because it was God's plan. I don't know. But He would make His mark and plant His presence in Johnny later on. As I have said, Johnny's later years were his brightest. He left us a gift: John-John.

In 1965, I believe it was, we (Donna, David, and Cathy) were traveling back from California and stopped at Ft. Sam Houston in Texas. Johnny was in training there on his way to Vietnam. He told me that, after registering as conscientious objector, he had changed and now wanted to serve his country. He was training to be a paramedic. We had a short but good visit, and he told me he had fainted with a pain at his side. I didn't think it was serious; but a few months later, we were told it was cancer of the liver. I remember getting the call from Tony in Key West. it was like a stab in my heart. On a personal note, not knowing Jesus at that time, I made a prayer -- no, a proposal -- to God. "Spare my brother and I will be a believer." Of course, you know the outcome of that deal. So I decided then that God did not exist. It took another crisis much later on to bring me to my knees, but that's another story, right, Sam?

Every so often, since his funeral, I get the feeling that I want to go back to New York, visit his grave, and perhaps leave some flowers. I hope to do that someday soon; but, in spirit, I have paid that visit many times since we laid him down that day -- way too early in his brief but joyful life with us. WE LOVE YOU, Con-cón!

...and now, Sammy's thoughts...

About your uncle Johnny, well, I'll tell you that I can't get into that too much because his biography is too painful for me to share over the 'net. But since you are such a sweet niece and I know that you want to do a good job, I will share some of the less painful memories with you.

First of all, your Uncle Johnny was perhaps one of the top 3 or 4 most influential men in my life. I followed HIS footsteps and went to bible college, the same one he graduated from, Zion Bible Institute in E. Providence, RI. For many years, I felt that I was following him and sometimes felt that I was completing something he left undone. I helped his son through a very critical time and drove miles and for days trying to locate John-John. Miraculously, I ended up in front of the house where he and his Mom Doris were living in Massachusetts. I took him to live with us after your grandma died, helped him get his high school diploma and sent him to Albany State University. I worked for over 15 years with your Uncle Johnny's roommate from Bible college, Jerry Kaufman, may he rest in peace. So you get an idea that this little brother of his was somehow living his life in his big brothers' footsteps. I no longer feel that way, but I did for many, many years.

Enough about me. Johnny was to me a very special brother. He was the first of a twin delivery, and so he was the older twin. He was slim, funny, and we would tease each other in a fun way. I would call him by his apodo at home, which was Con-Cón. He began to dislike his nickname when he became a teenager, and so he would call me names whenever I would call him Con-Cón. He always treated me kind and never did we ever fight. He never made me cry; and I don't have a single memory of having a cross word with him, ever, and I mean never. I'll skip some of the bad parts which I remember very well and just say that your Uncle Johnny was delivered from a horrible bondage (that began at age 13) when Jesus came into his life and changed him completely. Thanks to your grandma and Ruthy's prayers, they took Johnny to Damascus Christian Church. There, a lady minister named Leoncia Rosado, better known as Mama Leo, ministered a miracle in Johnny's life. He was delivered and later went to Bible college. He was a ladies man and had several very pretty girlfriends.

Eventually, he married Doris Leighton; and she bore him a son, your cousin John Paul Colón. When he graduated, he immediately began doing evangelistic work with migrant workers in Freetown, Mass. Many years later, I preached on the same pulpit from which he had preached. Some folks who remembered him came up to me after the service and gave me a tape that had Johnny's testimony. Your dad has it. I gave it to him but I don't think he's been able to listen to it all these years. Maybe you can get your dad to let you hear it, and then you can hear the voice of a tender young man who loved the Lord Jesus and recognized that God saved him with the intervention of two apparently opposite influences - his mother's untiring and persistent prayers, love and patience and his father's intense demand for respect in life. I know that some in my loving family will not agree with me, but I agree with Johnny that Papi's severe discipline led to his salvation. Papi told him that since he couldn't straighten him up, he had to leave the house. Papi was not willing to endanger the life of a younger son with Johnny's lifestyle. Johnny became homeless before it was fashionable, and eventually that led him to Damascus. Johnny loved the Lord and wanted to serve Him. His favorite saying was, "Tis this life will soon be past, and only what's done for Christ will last!" I don't know if he knew how true those words would become.

Johnny developed liver cancer when he was a mere 22 years old. He had been drafted and while in the Army, he was diagnosed with this dreaded disease. I think your Titi Lucy can tell you more about the peculiar type of cancer that took his life on Jan. 4, 1968. I never cried more before or after in my life. His death marked me forever. I'm not sure I'm really healed of that trauma. It was the first for me. After that, I never trusted life again because I felt the violent rage of death. I'm older, just a little wiser, and now understand death is not the end; but that particular death will always be unique for me. It was my first real heartbreak. Johnny was such a good brother, and I have great memories of him coming home from Bible college and kissing me on the forehead while I was sleeping. I remember him driving like a maniac, taking the curves of the Puerto Rico mountain roads to get to the hospital where Judy had been hospitalized. I remember his friend Ronny Conti falling off my horse while riding on the farm in Patillas. I remember Johnny playing the drums in church; sometimes when I see Jesse playing, I can see my brother. Johnny was a laugher. Man, could he laugh and make us laugh. Your grandma told me that when Johnny was just a young boy in church he had a VISION of JESUS. He told Mami about it, and she never forgot it. JESUS has Johnny with him, and I'm going to see him again.

It's true, Sammy, that you have lived your life replicating Johnny's life. Johnny has to be a wonderful, loving uncle. I believe that you succeeded, Sammy. I love you, and now I know that I love Johnny, too.

...this is Lucy's contribution...

Our Brother Johnny

I have been asked to recall our brother Johnny. Some of us knew him well, some just vaguely, and the younger generation did not know him at all, except from stories heard about him, for his life was short. Very short. He was taken from us thirty years ago in January 1968, shortly after his twenty-third birthday. At the time of his passing, he had been newly married; and his wife Doris had given birth to their first and only son, John Paul, whom we affectionately call John-John. Shortly before his death, I had caught him looking at his baby, tears streaming from his eyes. I can imagine his thoughts at that time. It was very sad.

He did not have an easy death; his body was ravaged by cancer, the big C, the horrible disease that also killed our mother and our sister Gloria. But Johnny's disease and death, sudden and unexpected, was the worst experience of my life. Up to then, we had never had a death in the immediate family, except for our Mami Guela who had died many years before; but she was old and sick for a long time, so it was not the same.

I still remember Johnny well, although time has erased many of the memories. He came to us as part of a pair, the oldest of the only twins birthed by our mother. What a pregnancy she had! At the end, she was soooo big, she couldn't squat to wash the floors; so she would just sit down flat with her legs extended, and she made quite a sight. Being the eldest, I had seen Mami pregnant many times and had lived through the hush-hush and excitement of her labor and birth-giving; but the twins' pregnancy and birth took quite a toll on her and caused quite a stir, not only because she was so uncomfortable at the end, but because their birth occurred at a particularly difficult time in her relationship with Papi. Nine months before, Papi had returned from the states and stayed for a short while, then left in quite a hurry "to take care of some business in NY," leaving her pregnant. So this time she was alone and continued to bring us up by herself, with Papi Guelo's help, of course, until the move to NY. Much later, we learned what the urgent business was that took our father back to NY in such a hurry; but that's another story.

Johnny was the junior of the family; he was baptized "Concepción," and only later, when he was a troubled teenager in NY, did he decide to change his name to John. (I don't know why. Perhaps someone else in the family can comment on that.) Miguel and Concito, or Concón, as we used to call him, were the cutest babies. From infancy, Concón's personality was very different from Miguel's; he was a joker, a happy-go-lucky child, always into some mischief. One day, in the first grade, Mami had to go pick him up from school. It was a one-room schoolhouse, and the kids had to use the outhouse for a bathroom. The outhouse had two rooms divided by a wall. Each room had a wooden box with a hole in the center which served as the toilet, and it covered a deep hole in the ground where the excrement lay until the hole was filled. Comprende? One of the rooms, of course, was the girls' room, and the other room was the boys'. Well, soon those impish boys discovered that the middle wall did not go all the way to the ceiling and that, if you stepped on the wooden box and stretched out, you could look into the girls as they were doing their business. All the boys took turns; but when it came to Concito's turn, the box broke (or his foot slipped, I'm not sure). He wound up swimming in the dung beneath. Well, he screamed and almost drowned; they had to fish him out and the rest you can imagine. Thus he proved himself to be a true member of our family.

Johnny and Miguel joined us in New York, having been brought up by Mami and Papi Guelo and in the absence of a father. When we tried to resume our relationships and Mami and Papi reconciled, the twins found it difficult to fit the mold that Papi designed for them. Soon they were teenagers in trouble. I remember once going to court; a policeman had caught Johnny and some other friends ransacking a grocery store in the middle of the night. The store owner came to me and apologized. He said they had only taken a few bags of potato chips and some candy, and he did not want to press charges; but the police insisted that he did or else they would not protect his property anymore. When they brought Johnny in he was manacled and beat up. His handsome face bore bruises and one of his eyes was swollen. My heart broke, but not Papi's. He jumped in and wanted to beat him up some more; he told him in no uncertain terms that he was not welcome into "his" house again, and he made good on that threat. When Johnny came out of that mess, he was thrown out of the house. A social worker I had engaged to work on the problem told me he was on drugs and up to no good. And knowing Mami, you knew she was plugged in at high voltage, asking God for help. I did not help her there, sad to say. I was an "atheist" at the time. It was one of the many times that, if I had a choice, I would like to relive and change. But I must go on with my tale. Help did come. When Johnny found himself sleeping on park benches, without food or shelter, he went to the only place he knew he would find help. He headed for La Iglesia de Damasco. And there he found love, understanding, and the help he needed. And he found Jesus. I remember seeing him after his conversion. I couldn't believe the transformation that had taken place. He was happy. He was like a child again, the Johnny that I remembered, with an impish look in his eyes and the winning smile always on his face. As a matter of fact, until he got sick, I never saw him unhappy again. He had a tough time shaking his addictions, but eventually he enrolled at the Zion Bible Institute and, like Sammy, graduated and went on to serve God as best he knew how. The yearbook showed his favorite scripture: "I love the Lord, because he hath heard my voice and my supplications. Because he hath inclined his ear onto me, therefore will I call upon Him as long as I live." (Psalm 116:1-2). His quotation: "His love motivates, His mercy keeps, He always gives just what I need."

After he graduated and went into the field, I remember him calling me at work (I worked at Einstein at the time). He was working with migrant workers and described them as being people in great need of help, both physically and spiritually. He could not believe how needy they were. I knew that he was giving of himself freely and helping them as he had committed himself to do, having given his life to the service of His Creator and his fellow human beings who were "the least of these" impersonated. During those days, I saw Johnny very seldom. I was busy, he was very involved in his work. One night when Issy and I were living on Saw Mill River Rd., he and I think Ruthy and Tony came in for a visit. My memory of Johnny (that night) is very vivid to this day. I think Ruthy and Tony had just returned from their stint in Mexico where they had gone to do God's work. I had just lost about 40 lbs. When Johnny saw me he said "¡Ay, Lucy, tú te ves como que te estás muriendo!" (You look like you are dying). I said, "Gee, thanks, I feel great!" He was pulling my leg as usual. I still remember his comment about the lasagna I served that night. He liked it because it had "a Puerto Rican twist". That night was the last night I saw him before the news that hit me like a ton of bricks. Shortly afterwards, he went into the Army. During training, he suffered abdominal pains; they checked him and found he had cancer of the liver. The doctors told him the brutal truth: only a few months to live. He wrote it all down in a very sad letter, telling me to let the family know. Through the horror of such news, I could see that his faith in God was not shaken. He said (in the letter) he felt that he had a good life and that he was ready to meet his fate with dignity and courage. As I read that letter, I know how it felt to have a knife go through your heart. It took many years to recover. After his death, I felt I had not only lost a brother I loved dearly, but also a very dear friend. I missed him terribly; I still do.


...from Rosie...

It feels as though it happened yesterday; but in reality, it was a long time ago. We were just children then. Johnny, then known as Concón, was such a rascal, always engaged in some adventure. We had one thing in common: I was named after Mami and he after Papi. We often wondered why they did that to us.

Being just a year and seven months apart, we shared a lot of time together. At times, I glance at the past; and believe me, I don't want to go there. When I was asked to tell something about Johnny, I hesitated a bit. I knew that my memory of him (as with my memory of Gloria) is locked somewhere deep in my heart. It's hard to talk about Johnny and not mention the time that Mami left us in P.R., searching for a better life for us. There were four of us then. Johnny didn't leave one corner of Guayama unturned. He would be gone for hours; we always thought he was swimming at the Teneria. He was an adventurer and liked going on his own without a care in the world.

Once we joined our family in NY, he had to adjust to a new life. It was so different from what we were accustomed to. I don't believe he ever really adjusted. He got into so much trouble with Papi and had some hard times. We went to school together, the four of us. I remember the many times we walked home from PS3. He was always with friends and always gentle and loving. He later began to serve God and went to Bible school, where he met Doris, John's mother. I remember how much in love he was. Whenever he was in NY, he would call and stay with me. He was very soft spoken, and it was so pleasant to be around him. I used to love his visits. He joined the Army and was not able to finish training since he was found to have liver cancer. We came together as a family and took many trips to Massachusetts to be near him. Mami and Papi were living in Puerto Rico, and Mami caught a plane immediately and was by his side until the end.

We will always remember and love our Johnny. He was taken from us far too young, just when he was becoming a real man and his life was taking form. He left us his son, John. Perhaps that is why this family loves John so much. We were four then, but that was a long, long time ago. We lost Johnny and became three, then Gloria left us. Now it's just the two of us, and we were too young to tell the story the way it should be told. In memory of my brother Johnny.

Love to all, Rosie

...and finally, Ruthy's contribution...

Johnny Colón -- By Ruth Nora López

Johnny was the seventh of the Colón siblings born to Rosa and Concepción Colón. Born 12/12/44, he was only a few hours older than his twin brother, Miguel. Johnny stood tall and thin. He had a calm disposition and a jesting heart, always playing jokes on each one of us. He loved a good laugh. The last of eight born in Guayama, Puerto Rico, the twins came to NY in 1953. They came with Gloria and Rosie to live on 156th St. in the Bronx, where Papi had bought a house. Battling with the new environment and language barrier, Johnny struggled in school. Still a young boy, he played the drums in the church band. As Johnny got older and entered his teens, he drifted into the wrong crowds, leading him to drug use. Fortunately, when he finally hit bottom, he ended up back in church at Gloria's side in the midst of a rehabilitation crusade. The pastors of Damascus Church, Roberto and Leoncia Rosado, reached out to him and helped him beat the drug habit. Johnny worked hard at getting his life back together and through the crusade, he began to reach out to others that also needed rehabilitation. He had such a big heart; he was always helping others, and you never knew who he might bring home.

After his rehabilitation and his involvement in the crusade, he felt the call on his life for the ministry. He went to Bible college where he studied for three years before graduating. While in school, Johnny showed excellence in his work and was well liked by teachers and students alike. After graduating, he joined the Army. While in basic training, Johnny became ill and was diagnosed with cancer in the liver. Needless to say, this news was devastating to the rest of the family; we all struggled to deal with it. Johnny was discharged from the Army and admitted to a Veteran's Hospital in Boston, Mass. While in Boston, he had married Doris, his college sweetheart; and they gave birth to their only son, John Paul Colón. At the time, Mami and Papi were living in PR with Sammy, Judy, Miriam and Gigi. When they heard of Johnny's illness, they relocated to New York after selling the farm.

After spending a great deal of time in Boston, Johnny was transferred to the Veteran's Hospital in the Bronx. This is where he spent his last days, surrounded by his wife, his son, and the rest of his family, who spent days and nights visiting with him. Johnny's health quickly deteriorated; and only six months after the birth of his son, Johnny passed away and went to be with the Lord. I remember well the words of dedication that he wrote on his graduation picture that he gave to me - "Only one life twill soon be past, only what's done for Christ will last."

In retrospect, my fondest memories of Johnny are of him coming home during his breaks from Bible school. Since Mami and Papi had moved back to Puerto Rico, he used to stay with Gloria and I in the big apartment we shared. I can remember hearing him run up the long stairs to greet us all. He was always so happy to be home and filled the house with joy and laughter, displaying his great sense of humor. Johnny's premature departure from our family left a big void in our hearts, and for all of these years he has been dearly missed. We love you, Johnny.

Thank you! Thank you, Dad, Sammy, Ruthy, Rosie, and Lucy. I am sure I speak for all the cousins when I say that we now know him better.

C-130 HerculesKissed by God

I read this interesting little story in another publication that my father publishes, The Beaner Banner. That publication is a newsletter for his comrades from the Air Force. I am immensely proud of my dad and his 22 years in the Air Force. I still feel very much at home in military bases as a result, and seeing military personnel in their "flight suits" brings back many memories. David and I would always be excited when our dad came home from a flight or TDY because we would get to go through his flight lunch. Can you imagine? We got excited over military food! We were just a little naive!

It must have been around 0630 hours when we took off on a routine RC-130 mission out of Homestead AFB on a cloudy morning sometime in 1969. I can't remember all the crew that was along that day; Espy was the AMS, and it was "Double-O" Ortiz's first airborne mission. I think we were "Spicy Action." The guy who thought up that name must have been looking in Hank Hernandez's lunch box -- a lunch which we all shared and which came to be the basis for our BEANERS name -- full of lots of burritos with incredibly hot salsa! It was a few minutes after take off, and I was showing Double-O the routines of the plane, you know, the john, food warmers and the like, when a ball of fire appeared across one porthole. The plane shook a little, but it was over quickly. My eyes were still open like large saucers, still in shock, when Double-O asks, "Hey, Jorge, was that normal?" "No, mi hermano," I said, as we both peered out of the porthole into the early morning sky shimmering with lightning flashes. We went on to a normal mission; and, after landing, we discovered a hole about the size of a 50-cent coin dead center on the nose of the RC-130, spider-webbed with cracks all around the fiber glass. The plane had been hit by lightning -- a kiss from God! We headed for the NCO Club for a stiff one.

MSgt. Jorge D. Colón

The Alex (Pompo) Colón Fan Club

Bueno, so I started thinking that since I have a couple of movies that Pompo was in and Lucy said that she did, too, we would start a little column listing who has what, so that we can swap and copy. My dad says that he has a copy of "Invasion USA" but that he would have to search high and low for it. Start searching, Daddy-o! Lucy has a copy of "The Getaway" and "Red Scorpion." I also have a copy of "The Getaway," "The Mighty Quinn," and I have "Deep Cover." "Deep Cover" is a really good film with Laurence Fishburne and Jeff Goldblum. Pompo doesn't come on screen until the last half hour or so, but then he is in the rest of the movie, a pretty good-sized part. Judy has a copy (from TV) of "Raid on Entebbe." So how about it, movie fans? Any other contributions to the collection?

I would bet you though you had every detail about Michellita's wedding! Well, you would be wrong! Here we have this special letter from the "Princess" herself.

This year has been big and especially long for me. In the Fall of '96, I took my last two courses at Queens College -- and did mighty well, I might add -- while working two part-time jobs. I underwent gall bladder surgery in September of that year and took my time to recover! In December, we had the scare of a lifetime when Uncle Mike was injured and learned the meaning of "Thank God" after he made it through. I started my first full-time job at the Adoption Agency in January '97. I have worked very hard, and I have since earned a little raise and an itsy bitsy promotion! Mostly, I learned a lot and decided to pursue a Master's degree in social work. In May, I had the distinct pleasure of walking down two aisles! My own graduation and at Kivian's wedding. Kivian is my lifetime best friend. She lived next door to us in New Windsor, NY. She is a beautiful, intelligent, twenty-two-year-old occupational therapist, now happily married to a bright, young minister. Their wedding was BIG and beautiful. She was a classic, stunning bride; and I, her Maid of Honor, cried the whole way down the aisle! At my graduation, nothing but big smiles! My mother probably cried, but I think she was proud and relieved! On June 16, I turned 23. Those of you have been adding wrong all these years, you're older than you think! On June 29, I became a godmother -- hee hee! I was soooo proud! Samantha Maria Cheruk, by the way, is linked to her great-grandmother by more than just her middle name. She definitely has a bit of Grandma mixed into her looks! In August, I went to Puerto Rico to get a tan. I came back lighter than when I left, go figure!

Oh yeah! On December 13, I got married to Carlos Díaz! Quite a year, wouldn't you say? If you feel like you missed something, let me introduce you to Carlos. He is 28, bright, and a youthful-minded man (who can cook). To put it lightly, he's a kid with a big heart and a great sense of humor (who can cook). He was born and raised in NY and has also lived in California and Florida. Mickey is one of his favorite characters! He is kind and compassionate, very easy to talk to, and just plain fun to be around (and he can cook). He is an electrician who also enjoys working on cars. We live in a two-bedroom apartment only five minutes from my parents' house. Oh, did I mention that he cooks? Carlos is having a good time meeting all of you one by one (in person and over the 'net) and has yet to realize just how big this family is! Thank you all for your love, support, and for so warmly welcoming Carlos to our family!

Michelle Díaz (formerly López)


Danny's son, Jaih Daniel Colón
Mikie's new baby
John-John's custody court date (in March)
Peter's church
Sammy's ministry
Gigi & Michael's church
Patricia's health
Linda's continued remission
Miguel's recovery from the accident
Longevity for Tíos Ignacio and Miguel and Titi Pilar
Primo-hermano Domingo (Mingo) Díaz's health
Guidance, blessings, and provisions for each family member

Tidbits and Morsels

As some of you know, Mikie and Maria are expecting their first child together sometime in May; they wed this past November. You should take note of their new address and phone number in the address listings.

I talked to Terri, who relayed that she is student teaching this semester and will be graduating this year. Congratulations to Terri. It's been a long haul; and I, for one, am very proud of her achievements! Terri tells me that she has a new boyfriend whose name is Eddie Smith. I pointed out to her that his name is not a Puerto Rican one. He may not pass muster! Just kidding. Terri also passed on the news that Danny is a father now. He has a little boy named Jaih Daniel who (Terri thought) was almost two years old now. They don't get to see the baby very often, but she told me that he is a beautiful baby with blue eyes. Terri promised that she would get pictures of Jaih and Ashley (Mikie's daughter) to post on the web. She told me that Danny has a new job working for a cable company. She didn't know details, but it is a good job with benefits. Millie is doing well; she still works for the prison.

John Edgar has touched base with us; he reveals that things haven't changed all that much for him. He's working (too much) at his job in the Human Resources Dept. of the Episcopal Church. Since we learned that John Edgar was online, I got one little, tiny, eensy weensy note from him (thank you for that), but that was it! I think John Edgar is afraid of his computer!

Eddie and Linda are apparently enjoying the "empty nest" syndrome in their household; Eddie still works for the printing company, although he says his industry has changed dramatically and that they focus on marketing and graphic design now. Linda works as an intake worker in a private, mental health facility; she told me that the work is difficult and draining but very gratifying. She completed her first series of tests (on the state of her physical health), and it appears that she is in remission; she has another battery of tests to go through. We'll continue to keep her in our prayers. Claudine graduates from Lehigh University in May, and Steven will also be graduating from law school this year. Congratulations to both of you! You did it!

Although we don't often catch Debbie online, I did manage to squeeze a few details out of her. She announced that she, Alvaro, Jon, and Roni will be traveling to Nicaragua in April. We're all excited for her as she has the pleasure of visiting her husband's homeland for the first time. Take lots of pictures, Alvaro! Roni is involved in gymnastics these days and will compete in a mini-olympics in March. Jon has been achieving straight A's in school and has obtained several "stars" for his work in Tai Kwon Do. Tai Kwon Do has been wonderful for Jonathan. It has helped him to focus, and he seems so much happier. It probably helps him because he is able to work out frustrations; he has an outlet for his energy now. Roni and Jon are getting growing closer as a result. I know that Debbie and Alvaro are very proud of them!

David is working at his union job in San Jose and continues to keep his life on track with the help of God. As a sister, I am very proud of the accomplishments he's made thus far. All one can do in life is look ahead and forget the past (and all of its baggage), and he is doing just that. Praise God!

To conclude this wonderful piece of journalism (ok, no wisecracks here), I want to point out that we have some names and reports missing, and probably quite a bit of info is left out. If you don't see your name mentioned or there are important pieces missing, it is our loss; but it's all up to you. I expect to do another newsletter by the end of this year (for the Christmas season), so if you would like to be included, -- and I hope you do -- you know what to do!

Alexander Carlisle and his uncle David Colón Jonathan Espinoza (high block and mid-punch from the straddle position) Daniel Colón
Michelle Díaz, Veronica Espinoza, and Melissa Nightengale

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Last updated: February 23, 1998
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