Eulogy by my Aunt Rina
08/05/1931 – 06/25/2012
There are a lot of things about my dad I’d like for you to know. First of all being a father of six I remember him always being a working man. We always had food, clothing and BBQ’s when we were little. I remember my dad always loving to BBQ and having family over at our house. Knowing that I guess that is where my brothers got the love of BBQing. I remember him taking us to the San Juan Shrine on Sundays and even taking us to pony rides afterwards. Or knowing that, come Fridays, he’d splurge and get Mr. Q burgers for all of us. The big thrill of that was us going and trying to climb the steep walls they had there at the restaurant. My dad was definitely a restaurant eater. Mom would place his regular orders and we would drive to pick them up just in time before dad got home and definitely after he had his few Falstaff beers! My daddy loved to drink, well at one time, until the doctors gave him an ultimatum and one day to the next, cold turkey, never took another drink in his life. That was over 20 years ago. He would often even tell us that drinking was bad, imagine that!
My dad to the ones that knew him probably remember him most as being a strong-headed, stubborn person - which, I won’t deny. My dad too often spoke the truth which most could not understand. Daddy was a very, very stubborn man. I remember when we would go to the VA he often complained about the pills he had to take and how they each caused him more problems. I would tell him, “Ok dad, I will tell the doctor” and he would reply “No don’t tell them because for every pill they take away they will give you two more” or worse “Those doctors don’t know what they are doing; they only work for a paycheck”. So obviously his theory about the doctors medical knowledge was slightly underrated. I truly believe dad just liked to complain about mostly everything because he just could. Dad was very tight with his money but had the biggest pocket when it came to giving to people. He was never empty handed with anyone he came across or went to visit.
Dad wasn’t much of an affectionate man. Never was one to say “I love you” or “I’m proud of you”. But one of the times that I was in the hospital with him, with every nurse that came in he would mention something about each of us indirectly. He would mention that his son has a master’s degree and helps everyone because he works with Social Security. My oldest daughter works for a CPA and is good at it because she’s been there too long. My daughter has a college degree and makes a lot of money because she has to go all the way to Rio Grande City everyday because here they don’t pay much. My youngest son lives on ten acres of land and has a big beautiful house too big for him so you should call him (this telling a young nurse after asking if she is married). My youngest daughter has a little girl, that says she’s going to be a nurse to take care of her mom. And this is my daughter Rina; she has her own business and will sell you all kinds of insurance. So by the end of the day after him repeating all the above to anyone that happened to come in after the nurse had heard it several times, I asked dad why do you keep telling these people the same story, they don’t even know us. He said, Because I know that I wasn’t the best father to my children and I might not have much in life but the pride my children have given me just by what they have accomplished lets me know that I did something right in my life.
My dad didn’t drive fancy cars, but always routinely turned on the truck, floored the engine, wiped his truck clean. He did all this knowing my mom would get upset, but that didn’t stop him. My dad didn’t dress fancy but guarantee you that in his closet were always white starched shirts along with his starched jeans that only a cleaner could make that stiff. He didn’t travel much but made his weekly visits to church, Ruben’s grocery, my Tia Marinela’s house and Tio Rudy’s house and at times taking Jaclyn along for the ride. He didn’t buy expensive things but in his pocket you could bet had money in it, his comb, pen, and the famous Wrigley’s juicy fruit gum. Dad was also very precise on how he wanted things like when he would send me to the bank to withdraw his money (as he didn’t believe in using checks). I had to get exact amount of $100’s, $50’s, $20’s, $10’s and $1’s. It was amazing how he had his little list of bills that he calculated every month to mark paid in his UTPAU notebook.
Dad was so proud of being from Starr County, loved telling his army stories, being a sharp shooter and how he would put all the tall guys to shame just to proove that even though short he was stronger and better. He loved talking about the days in the ranch and how things used to be. I remember when we were younger he’d leave me and my siblings at the ranch for what seemed like forever, but would say it was because he wanted us to appreciate the things we had at home. I guess because we actually were privileged. We were the kids that had the new bikes, toys, and mainly the pencil sharpener that it seemed the whole neighborhood would come and use. He was just proud to be from his lineage and everyone who has ever gone to our house will see that metal R & R marker which still stands proudly. It says it all. Ironically it fit all of us because he named us all with names beginning with R’s. I don’t know how or when he put it there but it was the beginning of where it was known to us as “meet you at the R&R”.
Dad was very proud of his grandchildren and I saw that when I was spending time alone in his room the day he passed away. I looked around the room and as many times as I had been in it, all I could see were pictures of every single one of them. Pictures that I never noticed before. His grandchildren are all grown up but the pictures of them were back when they were babies. This is what he woke up to every day of his life. The joy he had telling everyone of his only great grandson, Joseph, that with that great smile he would have a lot of girlfriends. The pride and love he had for his grandkids displayed by their cards and pictures was my dad’s treasure of gold. Pictures of his parents were right by his side and his only brother Tio Rudy (of which we lost count of how many times they would fight but were right back with each other) were right next to his chair where he sat and loved to watch politics for hours.
Dad spoiled his grandkids always giving them lottery tickets for Christmas hoping at least one could get back as much as he had spent. He always had cookies and junk food at his hand for them. The yearly question he would ask the grandkids “What does Christmas mean? What does Thanksgiving mean? And his favorite, I don’t think I’m going to make it to another holiday and all ganging up on him saying “Grandpa you said that last year!” But this time he really meant it.
It’s sad to say that my dad never went to see me or anyone of us at our school functions, open house, never took us to vacations or Disney but it never mattered to me. What does matter to me was when at the time that I most needed my father, he was there for me telling me the exact words I needed to hear without judgment. He was there to see me graduate, to walk me down the aisle, to dance with my daughters at their quinceneras, to know that my daughters were in college, to ask how much money my son had made in FFA, to see his grandkids graduate, see Amanda get her masters, his oldest grandson become a doctor, another grandson become a DJ, and another granddaughter who kept running. But, most importantly, it was that I was there when he needed me the most.
These last few months of spending time with my father, looking forward to our lunches together; how I remember telling him that now it was me holding his hand making sure he was okay. But the best time that I will remember of my dad was spending a beautiful Father’s Day with him. I remember at church I hesitated to put my arm around him (as I said my dad was not too affectionate) But when I did I told him “I love you daddy and God bless you” and he told me
“Ya me Bendigo” and held my hand.” I can still feel his touch and it now looking back feels like him telling me he was ready to go.
One phrase dad would say over and over more than ever before was “Ay lo que llegamos!” Not really understanding, I asked him one time what does that even mean? He said you work all your life to make sure that you do what you are supposed to do and no matter what, you come to this….dying! Ay lo que llegamos! This is what my dad knew was coming his way. He had planned this day wanting a VA military funeral, no more doctors, no more pain. He even had mom included to be buried with him with no knowledge even to me because even after 56 years his resting days is where he will wait for her in the peace he will be surrounded by. I will miss him greatly; all together his cussing, complaining and stubbornness because no one can do it best as him.
I could go on forever trying to remember more things as I write this for my dad. From what I was told, my dad knew his time was coming, he got to spend time during his last week with us on Father’s day with Mom by his side, visited with Tia Marinela, Tio Rudy and Tia Minerva, went to church Sunday and ended the day playing water guns with his youngest granddaughter outside. They say the greatest reflections of a man are his children, and looking at my brothers and sisters, we each carry a part of our father in us. So for all of you that see good in us, I say “It’s from the reflection of our father.”
To our Army Hero, Business Advisor, storyteller, and best Daddy I could ever ask for, all I can do is wait to see you someday, Love you Rina…………………….
”Ay lo que llegamos”
Thank you so much, Tia, for sharing this. Our little family will treasure it and all the memories reflected in it about Grandpa. Ay lo que llegamos.