El Amor de Un Gato
A man only had one hope.
He died alone, hopeful he would see his first and only love one day.
José Antonio Ruíz Cortez only loved two women in his life; he gave everything he had to one of them, his mom. He waited for the other woman of his life for almost 40 years, hidden in the shadows, until one day life took his last breath.
Ruíz Cortez was an unknown hero, helped thousands of lives during the 9/11 terroristic attacks, one of the worst moments in the United States' history.
He was a hard-working immigrant in New York City who was one of the 10,000 volunteers during the cleanup and recovery of Ground Zero.
The love of Patricia Mitre Carlos and José Antonio Ruíz Cortez stayed on hold for almost four decades, survived the devastation of the 1985 Mexico City earthquake, a terroristic attack, two pandemics, and vanished due to a fatal accident.
Ruíz Cortez fell off his mom's roof on August 23rd while they were quarantining due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
He was trying to fix "una gotera y nadamás," a leak and only that, said his beloved friend Rosa Guerrero. He instantly died due to an uncontrolled bleeding in the brain caused by the impact at the age of 64.
Peers from Mexico City and New York City respected him. During his time living abroad, he used to send his mom half of his check. He felt guilty for not being with her mom after becoming a widow three years after his departure.
"I knew he was a good man, we used to call him "El Gato," for his big green eyes, he had several girlfriends before he was with my sister," said Salvador Mitre Carlos, one of Ruíz Cortez childhood's best friend, and one of Patricia's brothers.
In 1974 Patricia Mitre and Ruíz Cortez fell in love. They were two teenagers living in loud Mexico City, eager to learn and start a life outside the four walls where Patricia Mitre lived with her 11 siblings.
"Él me hacía ojitos," said Patricia Mitre, Ruíz Rodriguez, who was 18 years old when they started dating.
"We met in my parents' house, he used to come over to hang out with my older brothers, and he eventually noticed me."
"Paty was about 14 years old when "El Gato" showed interest in her; he begged my parents for permission so that they could be together." Salvador Mitre added, "once they broke up, he kept asking me to talk with Paty, she was not interested anymore, so I never spoke to her.’’
However, Ruíz Cortez, or as his friends used to call him, "El Gato," never gave up, only he kept waiting in the shadows.
"Years later, when we reconnected, he told me he used to see me each time I left the house," said Patricia Mitre.
Nearly 30 years after they broke up, they found their way back to each other thanks to Rosa Guerrero, who gave Patricia Mitre's phone number to Ruíz Cortez.
"He used to call me every weekend, either Sunday at 9 a.m. or Saturday night," added Patricia Mitre. They used to stay up until late and would fall asleep while they were on the phone.
"He knew what I was up to, he knew I had two children, when my dad passed, about my mom's illness, and when I moved to Juárez," Patricia said she was surprised he knew every detail from her life.
"I kept asking, how, how does he know?"
Ruíz Cortez kept in touch with Patricia Mitre's cousin, who happens to share her name, Patricia Carlos Mayorga.
"He told me he knew my cousin was always in love with him but still used her to find out my whereabouts." Patricia Mitre said, cracking a laugh, "my cousin told him I married my daughter's dad. I could never."
Patricia Carlos Mayorga refused to comment about his friendship with Ruíz Cortez.
Guerrero said the first time she gave Mitre Carlos' phone number, Ruíz Cortez told her, "I will call her and I swear to God if she asks me to go, I will hoop in the first plane to go and see her."
It never happened.
Patricia Mitre is a 60-year-old woman who never had any regrets and never got married, lives as a "proud" grandmother of two, and she was not willing to give up all of that.
"I can't live without seeing my children, my grandchildren," Mitre Carlos said several times during her interview. Then, she added, "I was not foolish enough to fall into those pretty promises."
The truth is those were not empty promises.
Guerrero said she knew about this love story firsthand since she was Ruíz Cortez's "paño de lágrimas," which translates from Spanish to "a shoulder for him to cry."
"He was willing to give up his whole life for Paty," Guerrero contended.
That day never arrived. Mitre Carlos and Ruíz Cortez cut off any communications after Ruíz Cortez offered her a house, a farm he always ambitioned to have next to the woman of his dreams.
"I simply can't live without the family I have built." Patricia Mitre said.
"We broke up because I wanted to be independent, I wanted a career, I wanted to travel and start a family and stick to them until the last day of my life, and my mind hasn't changed," said Patricia Mitre when asked about why she refused to move with Ruíz Cortez.
His funeral took place two weeks after his passing due to the COVID-19 pandemic, he did have a funeral and Rosa Guerrero's husband was there.
"I was at the funeral, "Conchita" inconsolable, she passed out during the funeral," Benavente Ortiz said.
Concepción "Conchita" Cortez is Ruíz Cortez's mother, and she is still grieving his son's death. According to Benavente, she now lives with her younger daughter, and she cries his son's death every day.
A man only had one hope.
He only loved two women in his life.
One of them keeps crying his loss and will cry it out until they reunite again.
If you hurt a cat, it would run away; Ruíz Cortez was a different cat breed. He never let her go; he never forgot the love of his life.