A Tribute to Albert
On Dec. 7th this year, a day that lives in infamy because of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, I lost my son-in-law, Albert Juereca to cancer. He was married to my oldest daughter Stephanie and they have one son, Alec. He was a special person in my life and will be dearly missed.
Our relationship had deepened over the years and the last few months, we called each other Dad and Son. You see, he had lost his Dad to cancer the year before and that had brought us even closer.
Back in May, he felt very uncomfortable and thought that he might have kidney stones. After a trip to the emergency room and then a few follow-up trips to his doctor, he was finally admitted to the hospital and the initial diagnosis of stage 4 Leukemia and Non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma, shocked the whole family. Six weeks later, it was determined that he actually had something even worse, a type of Lymphoma called Burkett's that is so rare that only 300 cases a year show up in the United states. Most cases are found in Africa and effects children mostly. Because of the late stages of the cancer, his prognosis was terminal.
He fought a courageous battle and wanted all the chemo and radiation treatments they would give him. He simple wanted to buy all the time he could get. He was only 41 years old.
We shared three big things in our life, a faith in the Lord, a love of my daughter, and fishing. I will always remember one of their early trips to Bend. We had camped out at Wickiup for a few days back in the late 90's. Fishing was fantastic that summer up in the Deschutes Arm and we were catching 4-8 LB. browns both trolling and casting. On this particular day, we had hooked and released several nice browns. Probably the best brown of the day was about to be netted by Albert as I finally brought it close enough to net. Unbeknownst to us, a couple of cords in the bottom of the net had broken. When he put the net under the brown (about 7-8 LB.), the fish went right through the bottom and was swimming away with my line running right out the bottom of the net. We both broke up and couldn't stop laughing.....needless to say, that one got away!
The last few months of his life, his faith and trust in God was so evident, that he seemed to be able to comfort those that came to see and comfort him. Everyone of the staff on the 3rd floor of Porterville Sierra View Hospital, came to know him. It was beautiful to see him trust that what was happening to him was in God's hands and he couldn't lose no matter what was coming.
Part of the irony of the situation was that my 3rd Grandson, Tristan just entered the world in Sept.as Albert's life was ending. At least he got to meet his new nephew.
I had the honor and privilege of delivering his eulogy at his church to a packed crowd. It was estimated that over 400 people showed up and many had to wait outside during the funeral.
I'm grateful to God that we had 15 years together and like to think that he is up there learning the waters of Heaven before we meet again.
Tight Lines, Rick