My favorite uncle, Fernando “Fred” Abreu, passed away July 25 at his home in Mesa, Arizona. He was my mother’s younger brother — she and he were always quite close, and there was always a lot of affection between our families. He’s the last of his generation to go, having survived all five of his siblings. He left behind his wife Claire and five of their six kids — Kevin, Karlene, Kathy, Karolyn, and Kim, aka “the K gang” (their sister Karen died in 2008).
Fred was a character, very involved with Boy Scouts and community service, and as he got older more and more politically opinionated. After years of no particular communication, he and I reconnected at a family gathering in 1999 and became frequent e-mail correspondents. He liked being able to share his liberal politics with me, because they were not so popular in Arizona or even within his family. When I took a trip to Portugal and decided to make a pilgrimage to Madeira, where his parents met and married, he was thrilled and helped me track down my grandfather’s last residence and his burial place. I think more than anything else, he admired my openness as a gay man and told me stories about his own sexual/romantic past that I don’t think he ever told anyone else in the family. I felt honored to know him and am sad that he’s gone.