|By Michael Vitez, The Philadelphia Inquirer|
|McClatchy-Tribune Information Services|
He painted and drywalled and planted, and his favorite memory in 13 years in that house was bringing his baby girl, Katie, now 8, home from the hospital.
His last walk out of the family room, through the dining room and kitchen, and out the door into the RV was a parade. His wife led, carrying his morphine and other medicines. He shuffled behind her, unsteady, heavily medicated to ease his pain.
Next came Raul's wife, Clara, carrying a baggie of Q-tips and Chapstick and the KY jelly that had been, even on such a tragic afternoon, the subject of many a joke.
"They're such a lovely family," said
"I knew my wife could not take care of all these bills and this house," he said Tuesday afternoon, sitting on the couch, hoarse, speaking very slowly, eyes drifting shut.
"It's been extremely hard," he said, "especially as a male provider who has done the best he could. I need to know they will be OK."
His wife was squirting morphine on his tongue with a syringe every three hours, and giving him nebulizer treatments to help him breathe. He struggled to stay awake, focused, alert.
"There was just no help out there within a time frame or within reach willing to help us."
The family had planned to drive to
He was in
Hospice would provide the oxygen and equipment for her to make the journey, and have staff waiting in
On Monday afternoon,
Hospice explained that the worst that could happen was that
"I would go to
The children flew with her Tuesday afternoon.
The oldest child, Antonio, will miss his senior year in
"Not fair," said Noemi, her beautiful face a portrait of sadness. "Him getting sick and the move. I love him so much."
Katie, 8, cute, sweet, was smothered by aunts and cousins.
This is a classic love story.
"These are really two good people," said Clara. "They turned their lives around. Made their dreams come true. They were so happy when they bought their first home here. They thought they were going to be here forever."
Now husband Raul is talking about selling his business, their home in Pennsauken with the backyard pool, moving to
Raul couldn't watch the RV pull away. He went over behind that big rhododendron and wept.
The trip took nearly 20 hours. With the oxygen, they had to bypass tunnels. There was traffic. The driver had to nap.
"Things were hectic with him getting into the home,"
Barely 48 hours after arriving in
"It was peaceful," said
She believes he knew his family would be safe, and surrendered to the cancer.
TO GET HELP
Life insurance through work or an agent can help pay for a house when someone dies. Disability insurance at work and
After a parent dies, children are eligible for
Use access code G96J.
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