On October 18th my father-in-law Dr. Ruben Arango passed away. He was a husband, father, grandfather, brother, uncle, son, professor, author, friend and a world traveler. I say all these things so that we might understand how many people he touched during his 75 years of life. I know this sounds cliché but the honest truth was that Mags, the Girls, Maria and I were all profoundly touched by everyone's love and support during these tough times. It certainly reminded me of how important family and friends are. I prepared and read the following at his funeral. For those who knew him I hope some part helps to remind you of Ruben. Later I'll post a poem that his friend wrote. Thank you.
Doctor, Papi, Gordi, Vroom, Tio, Rubencito, Professor, and Ruben. These are just some of the names Dr. Ruben Arango went by.
On behalf of the Arango Family I want to thank everyone for coming out today. I know Ruben would have been pleased to see so many of his current and former students finally showing up on time.
There’s such a mix of faces hear today from Ruben’s life that I’m reminded of a conversation I had with him years ago after being introduced to yet another person who knew him in some form or fashion. In exhaustion I commented to him, “You know Ruben… if you aren’t related to half of Miami you’re certainly best friends with the other half.” He loved that fact and he certainly would have appreciated you all coming here today.
I know that each and every one of you was touched by Ruben in some positive way. Students seeking knowledge of the past, family members requiring some sage advice or a daughter just trying to figure out how “Fulanity” was somehow related to the “Arango’s” or “Duquesne’s”. I knew Ruben as a doting father, a faithful husband, a loving grandfather, a highly respected colleague, a beloved professor, a new best friend to all strangers and a second father to me.
On Sunday I was in his home office helping to locate some papers. As I sat down in his chair I realized that describing for you the contents of his office might help us all learn a little more about Ruben before we say our final good bye. What I’m going to list is either on his desk, hanging on his wall or in a cabinet or closet.
· Papers, papers and more papers.
· Dog earned yellow legal pads with the hand written names of every Holy Roman Emperor, Romanov or the battle of “de no se quein”
· A coffee cup with the Arango crest and a framed Arango family tree.
· A portrait of Ruben and his mother, father and brother.
· A Christmas picture of Victoria at 4 months sitting on his knee.
· A bright eyed close up of Katherine at her baptism
· A collection of Teddy bears for Natalie
· An eclectic array of neckties dating back to the 1960’s
· A Miami Book Fair entry pass entitled “Ruben Arango – Author”
· The grandest collection of tiny pill boxes
· An antique bottle of Anis from the Santaballa family
· An American flag and a gold cross
· A wedding invitation dated August 7, 1998
· A embroidered handkerchief from a Cuban patriot
· A book entitled “La Sacarocracia”
· A plaque from St. Thomas University dated December 10, 2011 commemorating “31 year of outstanding service and dedication”. Now 33 years.
· A membership certificate for Maria Christina’s admittance into the Daughters of the American Revolution and a copy of the Order of Cincinnati.
· A portrait taken of Ruben and Mary Christina while aboard the Queen Mary II
· Two laptops, two printers, a typewriter and a flat screen tv complete with a set of antenna rabbit ears just in case I assume.
· A two wheeled collapsible “carito” used to haul everything from groceries to text books.
· A rocking chair with plenty of pillows for his back
· A sleeper sofa because he never believed in buying a sofa without a bed.
· Trinkets from every place he ever visited.
· A stuffed quail lamp and a painting of a race horse named “Never Say Die”
· The annual zodiac guide for Virgo’s
· A miniature Rosetta Stone
· A martini glass
· A letter from the King of Spain
· Handfuls of blue Papermate pens
· Books, books and more books. Books by Plato, St. Thomas Aquinas, Raul Shelton, Shakespeare, Cicero, Chaucer, Livy, Cervantes, Ruben Dario, Jose Marti. The Anuario de Familias Cubanas, Emily Post’s Etiquette, The Giant Book of Insults and the History of… well you fill in the blank. He read them all.
· And lastly… the heavy scent of Guerlain men’s cologne
Know that when you walk out of here today and return to your work, studies and families Ruben is already walking, talking, lecturing, entertaining and writing in heaven. No worries. He’ll be waiting for us, ready to touch our lives again in the special way he touched us all down here.