14 June, Feast of St. Eliseus ANOTHER WONDERFUL PERSON I KNEW
I want to tell you about a friend of mine who died on the 4th of this month.
His name is Ettore Borradore. We called him Hector. He was from a family that came from Piedmont in Italy, and was raised in North Beach. He was a few years younger than me, but experienced the same problems of the Depression.
His father was a Merchant Seaman and so was in and out of his life. Hector was dyslexic and found school difficult so, in the third or fourth grade he simply stopped going to school. In those days these things were not much of a problem and so Hector spent his youth working in one job or another as well as experiencing the streets of North Beach. He was a pretty good mechanic and was very strong so never lacked for work.
He was drafted at the end of the War and spent a few years in Texas. He enjoyed the army and then returned to San Francisco and, again, worked at one job or other.
After the War, a Paisana of his mother brought from Italy a granddaughter whose father was a German soldier. That was not accepted by the Italians at that time when feelings against the Germans ran high. The girl worked in the Post Office in Italy and came to the US to avoid the persecution attending her mixed heritage.
By that time Hector had outgrown that part of our lives where we experiment with different ways and things. He was content to work and spent his time in the Church of St. Peter and Paul enjoying the tranquility that is there.
Finally, his mother and the Paisana decided that he should marry the cast-off girl, and, to obey is mother, he did. He said that he hardly knew here and never kissed until after the wedding!!
He found that he did not enjoy married life but, discussing the matter with a Salesian priest , he settled down to be a good husband.
They had FOUR retarded children in a row.
You know what Hector said? “If the Lord sends me twenty I will take care of them”.
I remember seeing him and his children on the streetcars. I thought that he was running a school for retarded children.
After the fourth child, his wife refused to have more children (which seems quite natural to me) and that was an additional cross that he had to carry.
There were two boys and two girls. One boy is so severly retarded that he has never spoken. Since he was in the teen ages he has been institutionalized and today lives in a care facility.
One boy was less retarded and loved to fish and work with his father. Hector quit work and spent his life caring for his wife and children, living on welfare and in public housing. At one point he bought a boat and used to go ocean fishing with his son.
When that son was around twenty years of age, he committed suicide.
Some people have a heroic trust in God. Naturally it hurt Hector very deeply but he knew the boy was incapable of such a decision and he trusted the love and Mercy of the Creator. Without any questions, he shouldered that cross also.
I met Hector a few years ago when he came to the Perpetual Adoration Chapel on Ashbury St. for morning Mass. I felt sorry for him, not knowning at that time anything of the above story, because he was obviously a very odd person. He had the tendency to Orate and Preach. He would berate the women who came in wearing pants and without head covering. I assumed that he got upset because of his difficulty in expressing himself. He dressed oddly in army surplus clothes and had badges of the Blessed Virgin in his cap.
So, for awhile I just put up with the times he would get angry at me when I would try to correct him.
As clearly as I can recollect, one day in the Fall of 2006 My cousin Suzie called one evening and told me that if I wanted to say goodby to her husband , Joe, I had better come down. Joe was a farmer in Hollister and well known for his physical strength as well as for his gentle kindness. He was a Deputy Sheriff patrolling his end of the County of San Benito; a job he really enjoyed.
As he got older his healh deteriorated and he had problems with his blood pressure and other things. The physicians had him onf medicine that kept his blood pressure up but the medicines began to make him very sick. Since he was around 90 years old the doctors decided to stop the medication and let him die a natural death.
I called Linda, a relative, and she willingly came to take me down to Hollister after Mass the next morning . At 7:30 am we started to go down to Hollister to the Hazel Hawkins hospital where he was interned. As I left the chapel I passed in front of Hector and asked him the pray for my cousin Joe, who was dying.
Alhough I had lived in the area and had gone back and forth hundreds of times, for some reason we got lost and had to ask directions. One reason or another we got to the hospital close to 10. I figured the Joe had died and I would go in and pray by his corpse.
When Linda and I entered the hospital we saw Suzie walking in the hall with her niece talking and joking. I was not a little disedified at the sight of the widow taking his death so lightly. I asked where the body was and they took me to his room. Instead of a corpse Joe was sitting up in bed eating a huge breakfast of bacon, eggs, potatoes, etc, He paused for just a moment and said: “I didn’t die” and went back to stuffing food into his mouth. He had a Pressure cuff on his arm that was registered on a meter hanging on the wall. I looked at the meter, to my surprise his pressure was almost zero , but as he ate the pressure gradually went up to a normal range.
I am certain that I witnessed a real miracle through Hector’s prayers.
Two years later , I think it was 2010, a friend of our family had a heart attack. I visited her in St. Mary’s hospital to bring her the sacraments. It turned out that they found a hole between the ventricles. It is natural in the womb, but when the child starts to breath air and use its lungs the opening closes up and the two sides of the heart are separate in the kind of blood they are pumping. In a very few cases the closure fails. Usually this is detected soon after the child is born nd easily corrected. In still fewer cases it will surface in adult life as it did with my friend. The doctors scheduled an open heart operation. On the day of the operation she came to Mass and afterwards came into the sacristy to ask for a blessing. Just casually I told Hector that she was going in for a serious operation on her heart and would he please pray for her.
When she got to the hospital there was no sign of the opening.
Why were miracles performed at the prayer of this imperfect person who found it difficult even to express himself or control his temper? It is because he completely trusted God and realized that he was a helpless child in Gods hands. Jesus said, as you remember:”If you had faith the size of a mustard seed you could say to that tree to uproot and be planted in the sea, and it would be done for you”
The lesson of Hector’s life for all of us is that we have a Father who is a kind and loving God and we have to obey him because we love him and we know that he will never fail us.
Rev. F P. Filice