I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. 2 Timothy 4:7
My father, Cecilio was diagnosed with cancer of the glands at the age of 22. The doctors after much treatment sent him home with little hope of surviving. However, my father was a man of great faith. He prayed and placed his life in God’s hands. This week we celebrated his 80th birthday. It was an awesome victory. I especially am grateful since I was born after he was afflicted with this disease.
My father’s life has always been one of great dedication and purpose, a life worth living and a life to be proud of. He was born out of wedlock and into poverty. At the tender age of 7 he was sent to work at his uncle’s store, the largest store in Fajardo, Puerto Rico. This young boy was rescuing his family who had fallen into financial ruin due to his stepfather’s sickness. It was there that he first learned administration and professionalism. He would take those lessons with him wherever he would go. By the time he was 12 his uncle would trust him to be in charge whenever he couldn’t be there. At 15 his family was doing better and his father, living in N.Y., was asking for his son.
Cecilio arrived in N.Y. not knowing English and without a H.S. diploma. He worked all kinds of jobs, learned English and went back to school. A lover of education my father would continue his studies until he obtained a Doctorate in Divinity.
My dad worked as a registered nurse and later as a hospital administrator. However that was only part of his life. He was ordained as a minister at the age of 23. He had started preaching when he was 12 and would often preach before large crowds. The Reverend Doctor Cecilio Melendez, founded a church in Puerto Rico, was president of a council of churches in NY and has been Pastor of our church for almost 40 years.
My father has lived everyday for the glory of God. He knew early on that every day is a gift. He has strived to do all he can with every opportunity. Serving God, by serving his fellow man has been the focal point of his life. Whether as pastor or nurse, my dad has served with patience, dedication and love. He has been a light in the darkness and a fortress in troubled times.
While we celebrate his life it is important to consider our own. Every day is a gift from God. We must cherish them. We should strive to demonstrate the love of Christ through our words and actions every day. Ultimately we must please Him who so graciously bestowed this incredible gift of life upon us. Let us make it one worth living!