sadness and longing, he would hold vigil by her grave site at St. Joseph
Cemetery in West Roxbury all day, every day, rarely eating or drinking
and weathering all temperatures and conditions.
‘Roque’ continues to sit next to his beloved, after being buried in the
plot next to her.Rocky died on Janaury 22 at Stonehedge Health Care
Center in West Roxbury after several months of declining health. He was
sitting with his back to Julita when he overheard her talking with
friends “about the soul, about life, goodness,” Even before seeing her
face, he decided, “This is for me. I must know her.”
symbol for an hourglass figure with his hands – “but she was,” he added,
making the gesture again. “She was pure love. Her beauty was a gift
apart, a reward.”
annually. They married the following April. After their daughter Angela,
they had a son, Roque Jr.Rocky worked for three decades as a civil
engineer while Julita tended their family. They followed their children
to the United States in 1971 and settled in Boston a year later
complications after heart surgery. Distraught, he began spending his
days at St. Joseph Cemetery.
“She is part of me, so here I am whole,” he said. “Being here makes me
feel better. Not good, but better. I do it for Julita, and for myself.”
the belongings he carried daily to the cemetery was a photograph of a
lovely woman with green eyes and dark hair. On the back, she had
written: “Today the sky smiles to me. I see you. You look at me. Today I
believe in God. With all my love, Julita.”
“On cold days Rocky wears a patched and faded green parka. He owns other
coats, but Julita knew this one best, so he will not change. He greets
Julita — ‘I am here!’ Then he unfolds a blue beach chair — he leaves it
every night against her headstone — placing it on a piece of plywood to
keep it from sinking into the soft earth. Then Rocky relaxes, reading,
writing, and reflecting. For exercise and to keep warm, he walks around
nearby headstones engraved Cicciu, St. Clair, Doyle, Galvin, and Daley.
rarely eats or drinks, in part out of respect but also so he does not
need a bathroom. On special occasions he toasts Julita with sparkling
cider; he will do so Dec. 20, her birthday. Some days he brings a
cassette player. On one tape they sing together, a Spanish lullaby.
Rocky’s strong tenor is answered by Julita’s sweet soprano. Hearing
Julita’s voice brings a smile to his face, a mist to his clear blue
“When dark comes, Rocky prays. He sprinkles crumbs on the
grave, so chipmunks will keep Julita company after he has gone. Sadness
returning, he says goodbye. He rubs her name on the red granite stone.
The ritual has left an indelible mark.”
Over time, what began as a
personal act of mourning touched dozens of others who came to the
cemetery. Former strangers brought him meals, boots, hats, and scarves,
and they decorated Julita’s grave with plants, ceramic angels, flags,
and stuffed animals. He told them stories and shared his wisdom about
life and love.
Rocky continued his daily pilgrimage until 2005, when his son was killed
in a car crash in California. Although he still visited Julita’s grave
regularly, Rocky spent more time with his surviving family members.
“I think he had a realization at that point that we need to let go and we need to continue to live,” his daughter said.
His last visit was in July, before he fell ill.