José Luis Rodriguez "El Puma" is suffering from incurable disease
I'm in shock and awe over the news that José Luis Rodriguez "El Puma", the Venezuelan singer, has pulmonary fibromatosis, an incurable disease that affects a person's ability to breathe. He's had difficulty breathing since 2000. In 2007 he got the pulmonary fibromatosis diagnosis and kept the news to himself and only those closest to him. I find his rationale for keeping it from his fans rather noble. He says, "An artist is an artist, period ... he can transmit many things, but not suffering, heartache or sadness." The thought of sharing anything other than positive energy with his fans just isn't his style.
Finding out that "El Puma" has an incurable disease breaks my heart and makes me feel like my childhood is dying a slow and painful death. You see, the soundtrack of my youth features the iconic voice and songs of José Luis Rodriguez prominently.
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El Puma is one of the artists I don't remember NOT knowing about. He was a big deal in my household. I never saw my abuela swoon except for El Puma and if you really wanted to make her angry, all you had to do was insinuate that Sandro was anywhere near as good as El Puma.
I remember her opening her wallet one day and showing me a picture she carried around of José Luis Rodriguez. My jaw dropped. You don't understand the only other pictures I ever saw in my abuela's wallet were of saints on prayer cards. It's like she was the first fan girl I ever encountered. And you know what? I couldn't blame her. "Pavo Real" and "Se Busca" are songs that will never leave me, they are a part of who I am and when they play in my head, heart and soul they will always be sung by El Puma.
El Puma has always been such an elegant, talented man. He's classy and an excellent performer not to be missed. I remember every Sunday of my youth Siempre en Domingo playing in the background, I didn't always watch, but if José Luis Rodriguez was performing, I couldn't miss it, I didn't want to miss it.
Rodriguez has revealed that because of his disease he has felt himself at death's door on more than one occasion, but he says, "Death to me means the first separation of your body and your spirit (...) then you say, if I have to, I went and I have to leave, and I was born to die, but if you give me one more chance, would great."
As a fan, I'm glad I actually know Rodriguez has an incurable disease. I respect his reasons for wanting to keep his health issues private and not wanting to burden his admirers with his struggle, but I hope he knows it's not about his fans being burdened. No, not at all. This gives us the opportunity to pray for him and send love his way as a way of thanking him for all that he has given us.
Image via Mezcalent