Tuesday night, December 6th my dad Facetimed me. I had this ridiculous facemask on and we laughed and joked about how I looked like Hannibal Lector. As the conversation ended, my dad mentioned that his dad, my Grandpa, was in the hospital and wasn't looking so good. He had his ups and downs the past few years, but nonetheless he always bounced back. That night I went to bed. Something felt off, but I couldn't place my finger on what it was. My dad called me at 7 the next morning and told me my Grandpa had passed. I just couldn't believe it. There had been times where he was doing much worse, and he always came back. I felt off the next day and talked to my brother who also said he had had a funny feeling that night, and when the phone rang late that Tuesday night he knew. My Grandpa was this really amazing person. He was genuinely kind to everybody that walked through the doors of his home. He always had the same goofy smile on his face and never seemed angry or unhappy; all of my dad’s siblings knew that my Grandpa was very humble and never asked for more. He was incredibly hard working and was always willing to help others. I remember that when my family would go out to visit my grandparents, my Grandpa always made sure my brother and I had a few dollars to buy some candy and ice cream on the journey back. He was always willing to play wiffle-ball with my cousins and I, and he would jokingly call anyone who dropped the ball "butterfingers".
Recently I read through this book my dad and siblings had written of stories from childhood. My Grandfather was always willing to coach various sports that his children played throughout the years and was always so encouraging. If there was any injustice his kids faced, he made sure to stand up for them and ensure the wrong was righted. He loved "Walker Texas Ranger" and keeping an eye on his neighborhood. At the funeral service so many people came from near and far because he was such a kind person. I was in awe of all of the wonderful stories these people had about my Grandpa.
A special memory I have is when I had to interview a veteran for my New Mexico History Class freshman year of high school. I called him up and learned not only about his time in Panama with Grandma and their first born, Thomas, but how he had met my Grandma. He told me that when he was sick in the hospital, she was his nurse and that he thought she was so beautiful and kind. He had to ask her out! They ended up dating and getting married a little while later. I later learned that their wedding was actually held during a regular weekday Mass so some of the people in the pictures were just regular parishioners. On their wedding day they looked so happy! My Grandma moved with him to Panama where they stayed for two years.
My Aunt Karen spoke at the funeral about what character traits each of his nine children had inherited (his love of weather, sports, and in my dad’s case making fun of how many times he went back to school to become a nurse practitioner). Throughout the speech, she talked about the fact that their dad never complained about his job, led by example, and did an amazing job of raising them in the Catholic faith. At the end she said, “The world became a little darker but Heaven became a little brighter… Heaven calls all its' best home for the holidays.” I’ll miss that big smile that you always greeted me with. I’ll miss you Grandpa, and love you forever.