No Armored Car Following Hearse

San Francisco, CA– I’m not writing about boxing or MMA today, it just isn’t in me. Although my uncle Palamento Fernandez, a US Army veteran who was sterilized by exposure to Nuclear weaponry more than six decades ago wasn’t college educated, he made a lot of money in the hair business and had all of his faculties until about 3 1/2 years ago. Then he started to forget things, holler when it wasn’t remotely appropriate, and slowly but surely fell apart mentally and then physically.


Although most of you take talking to your loved ones for granted, my uncle, never much of a talker became almost mute. He was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s and later Stomach Cancer. That being said, while I try to see him every other day, if not at least twice a week, it is emotionally draining to watch this one-time king of Machismo, a playboy of sorts wither away day by day. The reason why I am broaching this subject is not that I seek pity for myself of my family, it’s because if you’re not in my position, chances are you will be at one time in your lifetime.


If uncle Pal’s situation wasn’t enough, my Godfather (and uncle) Lobe Fernandez, a widower now for four years, is dying in another room of the same house. Money can’t help my uncles. Prayer, while to some of you is a way out, hasn’t worked. I really don’t know where I’m trying to take this, but I can tell you that growing old isn’t all that it’s cracked up to be. Today was a good day for both uncles, as I talked with Lobe before going into to see Palamento. He recognized me as my late father, seeing we were virtual twins, and told me he loved me, which brought me to tears as do most visits to his home.


When I told my Dr. of the dire straights that both Lobe and Pal are in, he tried to be consoling, and at the same time tried keeping it real. “Pedro” he said, “the fact that people are living longer nowadays is a contributing factor to getting Alzheimer’s, Dementia, or terminal Cancer. While modern medicine has come a long way in many regards, the medical world is probably 50 or so years away from eliminating most forms of Cancer. As for Alzheimer’s, we have yet to see any real productive treatment in thwarting the disease. We can diagnose it early and can slow it down, but haven’t figured out how to stop it and frankly, I don’t know if we ever will.”


Since my mother died in 2006, the lone surviving member of her family is my aunt Julie Lutz. Known for her award winning baking, auntie Julie who has had medical issues since birth is ill to the point where I can see life is draining out of her day by day. One MD said it was Parkinson’s Disease, another said it wasn’t. But her memory fades, at times imagines things that aren’t really there, and after breaking her hip a couple of years ago has been regressing physically as well. It is heartbreaking to watch her try and do things she normally did sans any difficulty, like baking and walking for instance, this is so painful to watch that putting it into words is a trying experience itself.


Most of you have read the name “Jack Fiske” in my columns. Not only was he my journalistic mentor, a man I named my only child after, the Hall of Fame scribe was a product of the Great Depression who used to take day old newspapers out of people’s trash cans to satisfy his quest to read and learn as a child. When diagnosed with Sleep Apnea, Jack who had plenty of money, refused to buy a $600 machine that would have alleviated the Sleep Apnea which led to Clinical Depression because of his inability to get a good nights sleep. What I’m trying to say is that in all of my years, I’ve never seen an armored car full of cash follow a hearse to the cemetery. If you haven’t gotten the gist of what I’m trying to say, you can’t take it with you when you go!


You need to heed the advice. Living a normal life, or even living at all can be changed by disease, an automobile, industrial, even an accident in your home. Or in the case of 12 moviegoers a couple of weeks ago, death can come via a random act of violence and mayhem. In closing, you, or the persons you take for granted today might not be here tomorrow. Appreciate your loved ones. Because as sh**ty a hand that you think that you’ve been dealt in life, I’ve come to learn that the end is always nearer than you think. That being said, try and make it as good for you, your loved ones and good friends as you can until that day comes!

Pedro Fernandez


  • Pedro, timely, touching, and dead on the mark. Thank you!

  • Irishman in Arabia

    Hi Pedro, Sorry to hear about your uncles and aunts. I feel that all we can do when growing older is hope that we do so gracefully and in good health, and that our loved ones do the same. Having witnessed the pain of watching many relatives that I care about suffer in the ways that you mentioned, I figure going quickly of something like a heart attack can’t be that bad after all! That’s how my grandfathers on both side of my family and my father went. All the best

  • Pedro-This is a very thoughtful article. Thanks for writing and sharing it with your readers. Please accept my sympathies on the loss of your uncle.

    Best Regards,


  • Thanks for putting life into its proper perspective. I watched my mother slowly die from cancer and other alcohol related illnesses. If you love somebody, they should damned well know it!

  • Going through this very thing now with TWO mothers. Thanks for writing this. It seems this touches almost everyone anymore. So hard when one has to hold a job and take care of parents. It’s been making me sick, got to get a grip.

  • This one is close to home. My aunt has Alzheimers. Patience is a learned virtue. I have friends that are going through this with their parents and relatives with either alzheimers or dementia. Dementia is a hard one. Cancer is the worst. I believe when our elders ask for something, give it to them. One relative asked to go to Frank Sinatra Night at the SF Giants ballpark even though he can barely walk. He’s now going to this event and is lit up. Life is too short. I love my mom and am afraid to face when that day comes. Your Aunt Julie Lutz is a sweetheart.Thank you for writing about the reality of life and appreciating the people and our relatives in it.I do!

  • Pedro. Thanks for the reminder of what’s really important. Sometimes we get so caught up in things that when you really break it down prove to be so mundane and meaningless, where at the time you may ‘think’ it’s importamt and in essence turns out to be total BS in comparison to real life issues. Don’t know what’s going to happen down the road, but I’m going to enjoy today! Peace.

  • My mother has Alzhimers I took care of her for 2 years.
    It bled the life out of my wife and me. She is in a home
    now.And I try to enjoy every minute I live realativly healthy now.

  • Pedro, this effort on your part underlines so much of what I have seen this past year with so many falling sick or fading away before my very eyes. The end is much nearer than we like to think. Embrace those that we love….something I learned a lifetime ago and have been reminded of recently. Thank you Mr. Fernandez.

  • Pedro Fernandez

    What an honor coming from you Vivian. You knew it was on my mind as we discussed this earlier. When I have thoughts, best to write them down right away. Dropped you off and went too see my uncles. Thanks for being you!

  • Vivian Imperiale

    Pedro, this is close to my heart. The last 14 years of her life, my mother did not know who we were and didn’t talk or walk. And I think, too, of other loved ones with whom I never had the chance to say “good-bye.” Death can come creeping slowly or can appear out of nowhere and grab away a life. I try now to be very open with people I love and let them know how much they mean to me.

  • Pedro,

    Thank You for that timely article because it is always easy to lose perspective when grinding daily. This article served as a reminder to stay connected with what’s most important in life and that is our relationships.

  • Pedro, finally found a subject in which I totally agreed with you. Everybody has to die but perhaps destiny makes it easier to let go when illness makes life less worth living. Every time these guys step in to the ring for our enjoyment they will be carrying the effect of the trauma for the rest of there life. That latest picture of Muhammad Ali at the Olympics was really eye opening. We would all live alot longer if women would just cooperate!.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *