Julita Abalsamo had been married 55 years when she died in 1993 of complications following heart surgery.
And for twelve years following her death, her devoted husband Rocky sat beside her grave in Boston’s St. Joseph Cemetery every day. Most days, he was there when it opened–and he stayed until the gates were closed at night. He didn’t eat or drink during his vigil–mostly, he said, out of respect, but also to be certain he didn’t need the bathroom. On special occasions, he would toast her with sparkling cider. He was there in rain or shine, snow and sleet or summer’s heat.
In 2005, their only son was killed in an auto accident–and the loss seemed to change Rocky. Although he still frequented the cemetery often, he began to hold back, to spend more time with the family he had left. But he remained dedicated to his beloved wife. Spending time at her gravesite, he explained, kept him connected and made him feel better.
On January 22, Rocky passed away at the age of 97 at the Stonehedge Health Care Center in West Roxbury; and he was buried in his favorite spot, beside his wife.
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The Daily Mail told the story:
Rocky and Julita’s love story is the stuff of fairy tales. They met as teenagers in Buenos Aires, when the two were seated back to back in a cafe. Rocky heard his future wife talking with friends “about the soul, about life, goodness,” he explained in a 2000 interview with The Boston Globe. Even before he saw her face, he wanted to be with her.
The couple kissed for the first time on September 16, 1937, and they were married the following April. Rocky celebrated that first kiss anniversary throughout their long marriage.
Rocky and Julita had two children; and they followed the children to the U.S. in 1971. The following year, they settled in Boston, where they remained until death claimed Julita in 1993.
Each morning he would greet Julita – ‘I am here!’ – unfold his blue chair and unpack the belongings he would bring with him, such as photos and other tokens.
He rarely ate or drank, mostly out of respect but also so he does not need a bathroom, and would toast Julita with sparkling cider on special occasions, such as her birthday on December 20.
At night he would pray and sprinkle crumbs on the grave so that chipmunks would keep her company after he leaves.
Over time, what began as a personal act of mourning touched dozens of others who came to the cemetery.
People would bring meals, boots, hats, and scarves, and they decorated Julita’s grave with plants, ceramic angels, flags, and stuffed animals.
He told them stories and shared his wisdom about life and love.
Rocky had asked to be buried on his wife’s left side–just as they had always walked together, hand in hand.
Rocky’s daughter Angela said, “The most special thing about my father was that he lived his life his way. He lived one day at a time and enjoyed that day without preoccupations for tomorrow.”