As the next of kin and guardian of the late Pedro (Pete) Martinez and veteran. I decided to jot down a few words in preparing the inscription for his gravestone which turned into a eulogy and eventually resulting in this blog. Beginning with what I wanted others to know about who he was leading to what I would tell him if he were with me still. As I have spoken on behalf of others who have passed on. Helping with creating a few eulogies for others. This is especially meaningful to me as the Veteran whom I wrote about was my uncle. Please feel free to email or leave a comment or feedback. Helpful thoughts and suggestions are welcomed and appreciated.
Pedro Hernandez Martinez (pete) was a very simple and humble man. Pete was a compassionate wise and knowledgeable soul. Honest and hardworking, a Jack of all trades. There wasn’t a job he was too proud to do. Always willing to lend a helping hand to those in need. Especially those who unselfishly helped him when he or his family was in need. He made sure to always help “as long as I can I’ll always help” is what he would say. Whether it was a taco or a dollar, even shoes and saw someone else in need he would happily give it.
Throughout his life Pete carried all the love, happiness & guidance from the memories of his parents, children, family and friends . A man who served in Vietnam he experienced things that stayed within his soul. Memories that he shared with very few. Memories that haunted him even towards the end of his life journey.
Pete had lost many loved ones throughout his life. His parents, son, numerous family members his younger brother my dad Joe on March 16, 2011.Before my dad passed he asked Pete to look out for my family and me. My uncle Pete agreed to honor his younger brother’s last wish. It was something he wanted to do not only because it was requested of him, also because we have always had a close and loving bond, my uncle and I. In 2011 my uncles wishes were that when the time came I would care for him. I vowed to honor his request as he agreed to and fulfilled the request of his brother.
My family and I have so many fond memories of my uncle Pete. Years ago my husband Sam and Pete would spend nights after a weekend barbecue talking and laughing while drinking a few cold ones. “Onta la veronga!?” Was how they greeted each other. Even when Pete no longer drank alcohol. After having his first heart attack which resulted in a double bypass, “where’s the beer at?” was still their greeting. Always an important and supportive person in my life he drove me to the hospital when it was time to deliver my son Cedric and was always at the kid’s birthday parties. These are just a few memories created.
October of 2018 Pete suffered a stroke resulting in memory loss later confirmed as vascular dementia. When it was time for me to care for my uncle, my adult children who had moved out came back to help with caring for him. Our close family friends Dora with her son also came to help and spend time with him. My cousin Leslie who is not related to him only knowing of each other instantly became friends. Even though his dementia had progressed he remembered her and was ok with her calling him “Peter”. Lifelong memories were created for each of us as our bond strengthen more than I could have ever imagined. There was happiness there was sadness, confusion even frustration. There are a couple moments that he yelled at me in anger (After 40 years never had he yelled at me).
Tio Pete’s memorable phrases have become apart of our daily conversations, even the ones with his choice of words. His voice calling our names”Sam” ,”Cedric”, “Layla”,” Julius”, “Julian”,”Angelina” & “Karen” can still be heard in our minds. “We can go anywhere you want to go, you want to go to Tink a Taco or Jacalas” We laugh every time we remember this because although I was given the option of “anywhere ” there were only two choices to pick from. Which were his favorite restaurants to eat at.
My most treasured memory of my uncle Pete is the evening he was transported to a VITAS facility. Not knowing that it would be the last time we would both verbally communicate with each other. He said his goodbye to Sam and myself. Earlier in the day Sam was comforting our uncle praying with him assuring him that everything was ok and he was safe. Pete turned to him and asked “will you remember me?”. Sam replied yes of course he will always remember him, that he was grateful to our uncle for all he was and did for us over the years. That night we sat together in his room talking about what he was doing and how the kids were. Caught off guard when in Spanish he told me “te voy echar menos” (I’m going to miss you). Looking at him smiling was the only reply I could give without breaking down. He continued.. “deberías te voy echar mucho menos mija” (really, I’m really going to miss you mija). Finally I responded that I wanted to care for him that it was him and I taking care of each other. How much I love and appreciate him being apart of my life and caring for me as he always did. For Being my Tio Pete. As he was leaving my uncle Pete waved me goodbye and blew me a kiss. This was the last time I was to hear his voice and see him physically awake.
The following days my oldest son Julian was at uncle Pete’s bedside day and night, playing music for him letting him know he wasn’t alone. Leslie also spent a couple of nights there at the facility. Both assured that Pete (Peter) was being taken care of. Pete was slipping away his body was shutting down yet, still holding on. Praying and asking what was he waiting for who was he waiting for? I remembered my uncle had been asking for Dora over the past week. Saturday, June 16,2019 Dora walked in and announced herself he showed signs of acknowledging her presence. She sat with him for a while saying her goodbye. Not long after everyone was out of the room and I was distracted in a conversation with Leslie, Pedro Hernandez Martinez Peacefully slipped away to his paradise with our Lord and past loved ones.
Thank you for your service may you rest in eternal peace
“You can go anywhere”