A Priceless Reunion
By Lea Anne Klentzman
Imagine the excitement, the anticipation of seeing your big brother for the first time in over two decades. Imagine the disappointment of the looming goodbye just two hours later.
That is what the Belleza brothers experienced just last week.
Joey Belleza, production manager for Star Publications in Stafford, grew up in the Philippines. He was one of 10 children. When their father died at a young age, he left the 10 children and his wife with little to sustain them. The older boys had to find work to support the everyday needs of their family while squeezing in education whenever possible.
However, both boys completed college with BA’s in Fine Arts. Growing up, Joey and his older brother considered themselves best friends; however, their dreams and goals took them in different directions and as life happened, years passed.
In 1992 the brothers parted ways to pursue their dreams. Joey worked for years together with Grace, his wife, in the Mariana Islands, mainland China and Hong Kong. He then finally immigrated to the United States, sponsored by the “Star.” His wife followed with his son, David and eventually they had another son named Adam. Both children attend Dulles Schools. Joey and Grace pursued careers in the publishing industry, Joey with the Star, and Grace is now the Art Director for absolutely! Focus Media.
All the while, his big brother, Jess, was pursuing his dreams as an entertainer, traveling the other side of the globe.
Up until last year, communication between the brothers was infrequent; consisting of an occasional post card or letter from Jess from different ports of call–Japan, Australia, New Zealand, the Middle East or in Europe. However, Joey said, “Thanks to Facebook, in November of 2011, I got a message that Jess was coming to Galveston.”
Although it was only for one day, the brothers were ecstatic. January 25, 2012, was a day bright on the horizon for both men. Joey, the graphic artist and publisher, finally able to catch up with Jess who was an entertainer/singer on the European luxury cruise ship Balmoral on the Fred.Olsen Cruise Lines which was scheduled to dock in Galveston for 12 hours as part of a 90-day cruise sailing from Europe to North and South America.
The Belleza brothers excitedly planned the reunion, Joey hoping for a bright sunny January day in Galveston. However, prior to leaving Stafford that Tuesday evening the “Fort Bend Star” deadline had to be met. Joey said he was awash with adrenaline all day, making it nearly impossible to focus on the task at hand, meeting the newspaper printing deadline.
Wednesday morning dawned gloomy and foreboding; severe weather alerts, 100% chance of rain, with flash floods guaranteed in the Houston/Galveston area. Joey said he was frantic with fear that the ship would reroute due to the severe weather. He waited by Dock 25 for hours; no cruise ship is in sight. Thinking he had the wrong dock, he drove around the port for yet another hour finally seeing the huge Balmoral as it slid into the harbor. He said, “Thank God, I was just too early.”
Joey nervously entered the ship laden with gifts for his brother from him and his family. With lumps in their throats and tears in their eyes the brothers embraced. “We had to remember we were grown ups now,” said Joey, “All that time just melted away.” They caught up with each other’s lives, took pictures all over the ship. Joey learned that Jess was a celebrity on the ship. During the visit Joey was able to introduce Jess to his wife and family through the stack of photographs he brought with him.
After the short two hour reunion, the brothers hugged each other tight and wished each other God’s Blessing before parting. Jess’ cruise ship departed the port of Galveston later that same day headed to South America then back to Europe.
Although brief, the reunion between brothers was priceless to Joey. He said, “Some people are blessed to be surrounded with their loved ones, but if you are not, just be grateful for what time you have together and cherish each moment.”