We lost a good man
at the bus barn.
I want to tell you about my friend Carlos.
Around two years ago I met Diana, a bus driver in training. My friend and coworker, Ida, told me that Diana was a professional singer. I had seen Diana and said hello but we hadn’t met until then. Diana was very sweet and had a kind smile. She said she was from Colombia and had been living in Miami with her husband Carlos. Carlos was managing Diana’s music career. After a few years in Miami they decided to give Austin’s thriving music scene a try. I had seen Carlos around but we had not met. Diana introduced us and we liked each other instantly.
Diana had been working to improve her English and was looking for someone with whom she could sing in English and Spanish. My wife Chrissie had been working very intensely learning to speak Spanish and was doing very well. She was writing songs in Spanish and was actively looking for Spanish speaking musical partners.
I said to Diana, “I have the perfect person for you to meet!”
Chrissie and Diana became fast friends and started working on music together. They sang a bilingual duet in which Diana sang in English while Chrissie sang in Spanish.
Carlos had a plan. They would move to Austin and work as school bus drivers while they got established in the music scene. The schedule would give him time to focus on furthering Diana’s music career.
The end of the school year was just around the bend when my friend Addie at the Westcave Preserve asked me if I would be interested in driving a bus for them that summer. Westcave Preserve is one of my favorite field trip destinations and I loved that she asked me but I had to decline as Chrissie and I would be traveling and touring all summer.
Soon after that, Carlos told me he was looking for part time summer work. He was the new guy and they didn’t have any summer routes available to him.
I said, “I have the perfect job for you!”
I put Carlos in touch with Addie and he got the summer job.
Carlos was very happy to be driving for Westcave Preserve doing nature field trips. He told me that he ran a non-profit nature conservancy organization in the past. It was perfect! I loved how things were falling into place for my new friends.
Then came the bomb shell. About a year ago Carlos was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, the same disease that took my father three years earlier.
Carlos had a remarkably realistic, yet positive outlook.
He said the doctors told him he might have a year or so. Carlos told me that he didn’t necessarily believe them and their numbers. He was going to do his best to stick around and be healthy. He said, “If I am going to die, I’m going to live every day until I do.”
And live he did.
Carlos was out driving the bus whenever his health and chemo treatments allowed.
He and Diana traveled to Miami, France, Greece, and Colombia over the summer.
They spent time with family and friends.
Three days ago Chrissie and I visited Carlos in the hospital. He was weak and in pain but he smiled and welcomed us with open arms when he saw us. I played my guitar for him. He loved Pachelbel’s Canon in D so I played it.
I can’t say enough good things about Carlos. His presence made me feel like everything was going to be okay, even when it was obvious it wasn’t.
I’ll miss you, my friend.
I hope I don’t write another tribute for a long, long time.