Family, friends gather to help cancer-stricken former server - FOX 26 News | MyFoxHouston

Family, friends gather to help former server stricken with liver cancer

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HOUSTON (FOX 26) -

They unloaded instruments on a overcast Sunday afternoon. Oilmen, financial advisers, career professionals spending their day off away from their families to set up stage in front of Fuad's Restaurant.

Inside, employees prepared to say goodbye to one of their colleagues. Jose Flores has worked the bar here for almost 28 years.

"We care about him," said Dave Wilde, a longtime customer and singer of The Guzzlers, a local band. "We love him a lot and we're going to miss him because he was a big part of our lives. My life for 30 years."

As a bartender, Flores listened to his customer's stories and offered jokes when they were down.

Over the years, those customers evolved into friends, friends who got a chance to turn the tables and support him after a recent doctor's visit.

"They found out he has a tumor in his liver," said Joseph Mashkoor, chef at Fuad's Restaurant. "(The doctors) gave him six months to live."

Flores first heard that awful news two months ago. He had no idea he'd soon be here, at his own retirement party, fueled with food from the kitchen in the restaurant where he's worked all these years, with music from Dave Wilde's band. The Guzzlers donated their time and music, while Jose's friends paid to request songs. The donations went towards a fund for his unexpected retirement.

Family was also there to support Flores.

"This is my cousin State Senator Gonzalo Barrientos," said Flores, over the sound coming from a mariachi band. With mariachis playing behind him, Flores a man facing a deadly disease, shared a life lesson: his secret to happiness.

"People have been good to me, and I appreciate them," said Flores. "I learned how to appreciate. Appreciate, they're beautiful."

"He's got friends from the highest (income level) to plain people like all of us, and that's what counts," said Barrientos. "We're all Texans, Americans, and we should show more of his kind of love."

Flores will put his newly-donated retirement funds to good use during his last few months of life.

"I wish Jose the best," said Wilde. "He's finally going to get to travel around the United States with some friends and connect with old friends he hasn't seen in twenty, forty years and I think it's time. We're going to miss him, but have a great time, Jose. You deserve it."

"I'm in heaven. Not yet," said Flores, as he pointed to the sky. "But tonight I am."

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