The Many Loves of Coco Ramos
I first met Coco Ramos when I was coordinating Spanish retreats for Unity Village in Missouri. Coco’s cheerful attitude and presence were infectious. He always had a new joke to share. He’d say, “Hey, Paul, have you heard this one?” and then launch into it. And so began our long and supportive friendship.
Whenever I traveled to Orlando, a lively meal over Puerto Rican food was sure to happen as we caught up on each other’s life. He and his wife, Alinda, had discovered Unity in Puerto Rico in 1978 and moved to the mainland in 1981.
In those days, Coco was neither a licensed Unity teacher nor a Unity minister, but it was easy to see the teacher and minister in him. He eventually held the credentials to match his nature.
As a team player and servant leader during those yearly retreats, his music filled the retreat with Spanish joy songs, including his originals. He also served as a kind of master of ceremonies at the gatherings. He was the glue that kept the various pieces of the retreat running smoothly.
They discovered the healing journey was not about focusing on what might happen but about living the truth they knew. It was about integrating spirituality with their everyday lives.
Coco was at home in English and Spanish, speaking and singing, and he often served as a translator in both directions. He was fully American and fully Hispanic, proud of his Puerto Rican heritage. His musical training had been in Puerto Rico, and he wrote songs in Spanish and English, many of them with New Thought themes.
He was a virtuoso pianist and even once recorded a CD from start to finish in a single sitting without a break. My favorite album is Inner Time, Inner Tempo: Soothing Piano Melodies, which he produced in his capacity as director of the Unity audiovisual department. It was released in October 1998. When I travel by air, it is always playing as I settle into the takeoff and landing routines.
He had the sensitivity to know when he was the star—and, oh, did he shine! He also knew when he was musical background support. He is one of only two musicians I have had the pleasure to work with who could truly synchronize music with spoken meditation, resulting in an outcome greater than the sum of its parts. Often he would say some new piece of music was inspired by the experience.
Soul Mates Through Lifetimes
When I think of Coco, I think of his wife, Alinda. They were so in love with each other and thought of themselves as soul mates. With certainty, they declared they had been together in previous lives. They were married for 47 years and had known each other for six years prior to that. Together they prioritized their life by putting God first, then each other individually, followed by themselves as a couple, and then their children.
Alinda became a Unity minister while Coco was working at Unity Village. Their first ministry was a bumpy start at their former church home in Orlando. They discovered a prophet is not always welcome in their own hometown. Undeterred they founded a new Unity church, the third for the Orlando area.
One day I remember arriving at Unity Village and meeting Coco as I was walking in. He was very proud of a vest Alinda had given him that could hold all his tech toys. There were pockets everywhere—inside and out. Oh, how he loved his tech! We’re talking cell phones, pads, devices to hold music, and small recorders for memos—notes to self. He used them to improve his music as well as for other purposes.
While in Orlando, Coco eventually became a hospital chaplain working in a cancer center. He enjoyed this work supporting others during some of the most difficult times of their lives. He often shared with delight and a giggle how he slipped in Unity teachings wherever he could.
Then Coco was diagnosed with cancer. He ended up being treated in the same hospital where he had served as chaplain. Coco and Alinda met this challenge—day after day—using Unity teachings. They knew how to apply the fifth principle of Unity, which is essentially “practice what you preach.” They knew what was important was not what was happening to them—it was how they handled what was happening.
During his illness, there were ups and downs. When asked where they got their support, they turned toward each other and simultaneously named the other. They discovered the healing journey was not about focusing on what might happen but about living the truth they knew. It was about integrating spirituality with their everyday lives. Coco said, “I am here to testify, to be a witness to the integration of traditional medicine and spirituality. God does not operate separate from our minds.”
Eventually, Coco passed from this earthly realm. I suspect that in his next incarnation he and Alinda will find each other once more. And so, the music and love story go on.