I remember it like it was yesterday. I was running around my house cleaning and
prepping for the big day. I got on my hands and knees to inspect every inch of my
house even the floors in my kitchen, the very place in which my guest of honor
would be sure to step foot on. My husband always made sure that the yard which was
manicured but he made sure that this week the yard would receive extra attention.
Every thing had to be perfect. I must have gone over every inch of my house inside
and out and still I felt that it was not sparkling enough for the arrival of my
Grandfather. You would think that royalty was arriving. My grandfather was not
royalty, but he was the Patriarch of our family, which was royalty to me.
My Grandfather was the man that would be the measure of all men for me. A loving,
hard working man, my grandfather worked for over twenty years in the steel mills of
Chicago, while raising four children Three daughters and one son.
A son of immigrants that came to America in 1931 only a year after he was born,
my "Grandpa" as I lovingly called him, had dealt with much adversity in his life.
My grandfather was faced with prejudice, language barriers, the death of his first
born son and eventually the end of a twenty five year marriage.
My mother would tell me stories of how her father worked through harsh conditions
in Chicago and in spite of everything over came those barriers and always managed
to be a very loving father.
When my father asked for his youngest daughters hand in marriage, my grandfather
embraced my father and treated him as his own son. My father quickly learned that
by marrying his daughter, that he was expected to care for his family and home with
the same love are care that my grandpa gave.
My father also a great and strong man in my life, had an abiding respect for my
grandfather. Grandpa would always say to us that a well kept house was the sign of a
fine family, and when he would arrive to my childhood home, I would see his eyes
scan the house inside and out. He never hid the fact that he was inspecting my
fathers yard work, and house upkeep. I remember being able to see the unmistakable
twinge of nervousness in my father eyes. The twinge of nervousness that could be
brought on by no man except my grandfather.
The day my grandfather arrived with his wife of seventeen years and her daughters
and their family was a proud day for me. I was hosting my very first Thanksgiving
dinner. At twenty four years old this was not the first thanksgiving meal I had
prepared but it was by far, the most important to me. My husband, our three year
old daughter and I had only been living in our new house for a little over a year,
and this would be grandpa's first visit to our new home.
Nevertheless, my grandfather inspected our home and yard, when I got his approval
all was right in my life. I had a loving and strong husband whom my grandfather
loved and a beautiful daughter who Grandpa could not love more if she were his own.
Thanksgiving dinner went on with out a hitch. Dinner was fantastic, we ate, talked,
laughed and listened to the stories of old my grandfather and father shared. As the
children played in the background. I knew I was in heaven, surrounded by my dear
My grandfather mentioned that his back was aching, but he shrugged it off, he said
it must have been the long drive. It would be only a few short months later that we
found out the real cause of Grandpa's back aches. My grandfather had lung cancer.
Grandpa had an operation to remove the cancer a few months after that, but it was
too late the cancer had spread through out his chest. My entire family came from
far and wide to visit my Grandfather in Houston. We all talked to him, we urged him
not to give up but it seemed to bee of no use, he was leaving us and there was
nothing we could do to save him. Oh How I wanted to save him. I traveled numerous
times with my three year old and my parents to visit my ailing grandfather who lived
four hours away. In spite of his weak state we knew that our visits brought him much
joy. It seemed as though momentarily, Grandpa would forget about his cancer and the
chemotherapy, he would immerse himself in our visits. Grandpa enjoyed every minute
of the time he had with us.
One Day he asked me to take a walk with him in his beautiful yard. I held his arm
and could feel his once strong arm was now weak and frail. Grandpa and I talked
under his favorite pecan tree. He told me how he remembered holding me, his first
grandchildfor the very first time and how he loved me, was honored to have held my
daughter,his first great-grandchild when she was born. He told me how much joy I
brought to his life, and now he wanted to share something of his with me. Grandpa
then showed me a row of flowers that he had planted when he began his new life in
Houston over twenty years before. Grandpa handed me a small hand shovel and
instructed me to pull a flower out by its bulb. He told me to take a part of him
with me to my home and plant it. My grandpa told me that like a beautiful family
that this bulb would grow and show its beauty as long as it was well cared for.
Only a month later I said goodbye to my Grandpa for the last time. My Grandpa
Carlos lost his battle with lung cancer in July of 2003. I have two daughters now,
and four years later I still I still have the flower that he gave me, planted by my
favorite pecan tree in our back yard. I will always treasure the memory of my
grandfather and the last gift he gave me. The beautiful flower has multiplied just
like my family, and the love my grandfather gave me blooms on, in my heart and in my
home and in my garden.