The Fall That Hurt Us All


Is there someone you know that makes you smile each time you see them? Maybe even calms you down just by hearing them speak? If you don’t, then you’re missing out.

Forty years ago my father met a man named Nelson Robayo. He would stop by my father’s home in NJ for dinner once a week. I don’t know exactly how these two met but they were friends since I could remember and respected each other in ways you don’t see today.

Mr. Robayo was always active in the St. Nicholas Parish. I know because I, too, was a member. He volunteered to prepare us for our first communion. I remember one of my classmates couldn’t swallow the wine and Mr. Robayo smiled. I saw this same smile each time my father and I would meet him in the chapel after Sunday mass. I always loved seeing him smile, and how it would genuinely make my father’s day to see him too.

I always kept in touch with Mr. Robayo’s grandson, who is my former supervisor from the time I interned at a local hospital. I’d ask about his grandfather to which he’d always say he’d set up a date for us because I was “so in love” with his grandfather.

Well-kept and very respectful, Mr. Robayo was an honest and caring man. Jeff met him twice before we moved but would hear of him every Sunday when I’d get home from mass. I even introduced him to Sebastian.
Mr. Robayo was excited to hear we were moving to Florida. He told us his daughter just moved down and how nice Floridians are to the older folks he said they asked to help him cross the street once. But, he said, Florida wasn’t for him.

On Wednesday, Feb. 12, 2014 his grandson sent me a text. It was odd to see one from him since it wasn’t Sunday and it wasn’t coming from me. Sensing something was up, I responded right away.

He told me his grandfather had slipped on ice the day before and suffered a stroke. As the day went on he told me more. Mr. Robayo was in a coma and on life support. His will was to not be revived. The family said their goodbyes a pulled the plug.

This angel got his wings on Wednesday, Feb. 12, 2014 at 8pm.


  1. Fatima, thank you for sharing your sweet story about Papi. It helps with the mourning process knowing that he was loved and respected by everyone who met him.

  2. You're welcome, Lisha. Happy to help. Although I won't be there to wish him farewell, I'm glad my words can be of use in this difficult time.

  3. […] maybe even ask if they could bring our family pup Toby so I could wish them well. I’d squeeze in an extra hour to talk to Mr. Robayo, and take in that beautiful smile. I’d visit friends and family one last time before our […]

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