Hundreds turned up at the funeral of a woman who died in the recent ill-fated El Paso shootings.
Antonio “Tony” Basco,61, buried his late wife, Margie Reckard, at an El Paso cemetery. He wore a black suit with a red rose at his jacket pocket, and said he felt alone in the aftermath of his wife Reckard’s death, who was one of the 22 people killed in the Aug. 3 mass shooting in an El Paso Walmart.
Basco thought that very few people would turn up at the funeral in El Paso cemetery. The couple had met 22 years ago in Omaha, Nebraska, and had very few living family members on both sides, and had led a very solitary life in the Texas border.
But when Basco looked at the crowd gathered for the funeral, he realized, “I’m not alone,” he said. “I thought I wanted to be alone, but I don’t want to be.” Basco had put out an open invitation to the public to attend his wife’s funeral at the La Paz Faith Center. The line of mourners extended on to the nearby streets, and the flowers which were delivered at the funeral home had their fragrance outside too.
The mourners wanted to let Basco know that he wasn’t alone in his grief and that they were his family in El Paso. They also needed to heal after this gruesome attack on their safety and to show their kids that good outweighs evil, they wanted to do something powerful after a shooting that made them feel helpless.
Karly Porras, 25, waited in 100-degree heat, to donate blood right after the Aug. 3 shooting. She said, “You can only donate so much blood, buy so many T-shirts, put so many stickers on your car. I wanted to do more,” Porras said. “The emotional support is just as important as the other stuff, even though nothing can change what happened.”
Wendy Rios, 38, arrived at the prayer service with her three daughters, she said she never thought that a mass shooting would hit so close to home. She also worries about it’s effect on her children. “I wanted to show my daughters that there are more good people than bad people out in the world,” Rios said.
Reckard’s funeral was the last one of 22 victims, said Salvador Perches, owner of Perches Funeral Home, who said he had spoken with other local directors. None of them were open to the public and some took place quietly as families wanted to grieve privately.
“We all grieve and heal in different ways,” El Paso resident Julieta Aduto said, “People have been standing here for hours. It just shows there’s still good in mankind, that there’s still hope in the world.”
Volunteers handed out hundreds of donated water bottles, snacks, and meals to those waiting in line throughout the evening and some people wore “El Paso Strong” T-shirts. They clutched flowers, canvas paintings, and wood carvings they hoped to give Basco.
The grieving widower arrived at the funeral home on Friday night, and instead of being ushered inside, he walked down to the people and greeted and hugged them and some also shouted their support to him. “You’re not alone,” they cried. “We’re your family now.” “God bless you.”
Shekelia Rambus, 46, who recently moved to El Paso said that the city had a bad reputation from some politicians, including the president, for being a dangerous place to live. “It was important for me that the last thing people heard about El Paso not be about a shooting that took 22 lives,” Rambus said. “Let it be that the community showed up for someone who needed us to stand with him.”
Norma Zavala, 57, hails froma large family, and said she showed up because she did not want Basco to be alone. Zavala didn’t expect to meet Basco in person, she just wanted him to know he had a whole city behind him. “It helps us deal with it too,” Zavala said. “We feel sad even though nobody close to our family was hurt. It’s still shocking and it hurts.”
There’s no precedent for this in El Paso, Joseph Nunez, 50, said of the shooting. “That’s probably why we can’t help but internalize something like this,” Nunez said. “It weighs heavy on the community and I think that’s why the response has been so overwhelming. It’s an El Paso thing.”
At the funeral service, Basco remembered Reckard as the woman who made him take a bug he found in the restroom outside instead of killing it. She overlooked his flaws and showed him love and credited her for straightening him out. He said everyone was honoring a woman they didn’t know was amazing.
“So many people put their arms around me, grieved with me, cried with me, it touched my heart,” Basco said. “I love you and I’m proud and I’m honored to have you all here as my family.”
Our heartfelt condolences to Basco, no amount of consolation can ever bring him back what he has lost, but this show of solidarity and one-ness that was displayed in El Paso is melting out hearts and thousands out there.