Twenty Years of Waiting

For 20 years, Roque “Rocky” Abalsamo did something every day that is simply heartbreaking. In 1993, his wife of 35 years, Julia “Julita” Echeverria Abalsamo, passed away. From that day forward, he diligently sat by her grave in St. Joseph Cemetery in Boston, MA. He didn’t eat. He didn’t drink. All Rocky did was brave the heat, rain, cold and snow to be by his wife’s side…

The couple met in the 1930s in their native Buenos Aires. Rocky simply heard Julita talking to her friends and realized that he needed to know the person he heard, a woman full of so much love and goodness. Basically, since that moment, the two had been together. They lived a happy life together, marrying the spring after they had met. They had two children, who they eventually followed to the United States.

Rocky and Julita had been married for 35 years when Julita needed heart surgery. She died due to complications after the procedure. Rocky was so distraught without her and needed to be close to his wife. That’s why he began his daily vigil next to her grave that would last more than two decades.

In Boston, he was a local celebrity. He had visitors at the cemetery who would bring him clothes or food. Sometimes, they would just stop to talk. No matter how long the visit was, everyone who met him was moved by the love he had for his wife.

On January 22nd, 2014, over 20 years after he started his quiet vigil, Rocky died at Stonehedge Health Care Center. He was 97 years-old and had been experiencing failing health for a while. Although his family will miss him, one thing is entirely clear: he and Julita are now reunited.

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Michael Harrell is a former staff member and current volunteer at St. Luke's Lutheran Church in Federal Way, Washington. A blogger by hobby and social media manager by trade, he continues to teach the faith to ninth graders when he's not busy watching movies or theatre. He loves the Seattle Mariners, and his wife wants you to know he's married. You can follow him on Twitter.