EDITOR'S NOTE | Earlier we shared with you the story about the passing of Norberto Ramon, who in the middle of cancer treatment took off and helped rescue people from Hurricane Harvey flooding. Before he died, he took one last fishing trip, and we want to share that story with you as well.
ROCKPORT, TX -- The past two years of Norberto Ramon's life have been like a slow burning fuse. He's tried to keep colon cancer from accelerating and detonating everything in his life.
It seems, for the moment, the cancer has exploded in the most aggressive way. Doctors told his family that the 56-year-old is beyond the reach of medical attention. His older brother, Alex Ramon II, broke the news to him in the first few days of June.
"He just looked at me and said, ‘You know what? The little time that I have left, I'm going to make the best of it," Alex said.
His brother's battle with stage four colon cancer became national news during Hurricane Harvey when he helped his fellow Houston police officers rescue more than 1,500 victims from rising water.
"He didn't come in and say, ‘Hey, I've got cancer,’" Alvin “A.R.” Steelman recalled. "He came in and said, ‘What do we need to do? Let's go get it. Let's go do it.’"
Steelman was on the boat with the 24-year veteran of the Houston Police Department as they carried out the rescues.
"He was right there, elbow to elbow and shoulder to shoulder working and picking people up," he said.
Norbert couldn't make it to his assigned station, so the Houston traffic policeman joined Steelman and other officers exposing himself to situations that could have proved detrimental to his health.
Cindy Ramon, his wife of nearly 14 years, said that portions of his skin were sensitive to the touch. She said his skin would break, revealing tiny pores of blood. But he would not stay home.
"I think the toughest part is watching him go downhill," Cindy said.
Doctors told Norberto about the cancer on March 4, 2016. Five months later, he faced Harvey. Two months away from the hurricane's anniversary, the famed rescuer faced the sunset of his life.
"I don't know which one is more painful, when you lose somebody instantly and you can't say good bye or you have someone you're going to lose and you have so much amount time to say goodbye,” Cindy said.
Noberto's two final wishes for his family: Go to Houston to visit with fellow officers, give some personal effects to relatives, and chat with friends from the fishing community.
In fact, he loved fishing so much, his last wish was a fishing trip to Rockport. So much of the San Antonio native's life and leisure was tied to picturesque bays.
He and Cindy got married there on October 16, 2004. The couple would take weekly fishing trips to the same place. It's also where the hurricane that brought notoriety to his sacrifice during the Harvey rescues pushed towards Houston.
On June 7, officers from HPD, the San Antonio Police Department, family, and friends gathered for Norberto's last fishing trip. They wanted him to see the sunrise on Aransas Bay and catch a few fish.
The assemblage brought hugs, pictures and well wishes. The fishing trip gave Norbert and his wife a chance to reflect in a place dear to them.
"You know, being on the water and looking around, I'm like, ‘The next time I come here, it's without him,’" Cindy told herself. "And that's the hardest part, is being without him because he's been my everything."
The 55-year-old said that he's her best friend and her fishing partner. Brother Alex said the loss is overwhelming.
"First and foremost, he's my brother that I love dearly," Alex said. "He's my kid brother and he's my hero."
Norberto reeled in two trout. He released the fish. The voyage was not about the sport, it was about spending precious moments with those he loves in a place he considered heaven on Earth.