Whelp. It's my birthday again. I've fallen off the blogging wagon as of late, A-gain, but I feel a certain sense of obligation to post something on my birthday.
This birthday is a weird one for me. We recently lost my husbands grandfather, well, we didn't lose him, as much as he peacefully passed from this life into the next. Somehow my birthday falls in between his death and his funeral, so I guess you could say that my BIRTHday is a bit shrouded this year.
Isn't that how life works sometimes though? With the constant ebb and flow of life and death, we are daily celebrating new life and lives well lived.
On this, the day where we once again commemorate my Mother's strength and conviction to bring me into this world and her self-control and patience that prevented her from taking me out of it between the ages of 12 and 23, I want to share a bit about Andy, Rob's grandfather. Given his influence on my husband, my children and me personally, it seems fitting.
I met Andy and Angie when I was 19 and really got to know them when I lived with them for about a month from May to June 1997. Yes, I said lived. You may be wondering if it was Rob and I that lived with them and the answer is no, it was just me. I won't go into the back story that lead me, basically a stranger, to living in an RV parked in their driveway like a bum, but just know that I was kind of an idiot.
Admittedly, Andy wasn't my blood grandfather and so many people are much more deeply connected to him, but he definitely didn't let on to that fact in the way he treated me. Now that I'm a bit more mature, I look back on how our relationship started and am in awe at the grace, integrity and love that were constant in his life. I don't know that I would have let some odd looking girl with black hair and lip ring come live in my yard, even if she was my grandson's girlfriend. I mean, how long is THAT relationship gonna last anyway? Haha!
I am really sensing that this post could get pretty long and in an effort to make it easier for you to digest, here are my top 10 qualities or memories I loved about Tata (a cherished moniker that he gained when he became a great-grandfather). Keep in mind that this is just the tip of an expansive ice berg of 87 years of a well lived life.
1. Memory: Road trip to the Bay Area, just him and I, to make a delivery for Central Auto, his auto dismantling company. It was on this trip that I learned that there is always room for a cheeseburger. It was also on this trip that our bond began.
2. Memory: Watching "Stories" with he and Angie each evening. I think he really thought I might learn Spanish. Sadly, I never did.
3. Memory: How happy it made him that I craved his chile when I was pregnant with the boys. He always made sure that I had a jar of my own to take home. He also convinced me to try nopales, which, as it turns out, I love!
4. Memory: Watching my boys flock to him each time we arrived at their home. He would always say "Now come here and give you Tata a kiss." Anyone who loves my kids like he did is a giant in my book!
5. Memory: He would always, always, always try to teach me to load the dishwasher. As much as I would try to shoo him out of the kitchen, the conversations were filled with a lot of "Thusly"s. If you've had the benefit of spending more than 5 minutes with him, you know what I'm talking about.
6. Memory: The nicknames and words that he made up. Often times we found out later that they were not totally fictional, but they were always awesome. This trait has been passed on to my husband and will likely continue with my boys.
7. Memory: The hammock. I don't know why, but it always made my heart smile to see him relaxing in his hammock under the canopy of his redwoods and plum trees. I imagine him in heaven relaxing in a hammock even now.
8. Quality: He was a family man. He always put his family first. He was generous and loving and was always happy to see us. He was patient with the kids even when they were rowdy or wouldn't eat their food. He loved all of us unconditionally.
9. Quality: He lived a life that was founded on integrity. He was a business man, a veteran, a friend, a husband, a father, a (great)grandfather and many, many other things and he did all of these things as a man of integrity. He said what he meant and meant what he said.
10. Quality: He loved life!! He was funny, he was hospitable, he loved food and was an excellent cook, he was always going and doing and traveling. He loved mechanical dancing and singing animals and figurines. He LOVED to make them perform for the kids and they loved it too! He always had a twinkle in his eye and a smile on his face. I literally don't think I can conjure a picture in my mind of him not smiling.
Andy Gonzales may not have been my grandfather from birth, but he has been my grandfather for the last 16 years and to say that I simply cared for him or liked him would be an incredible understatement. He has always had my deepest respect and my love.
Yes, it may be my birthday, but today I consider my life in light of a man who lived his so, so well. It is my hope that my husband and I are able to live a life which one day leaves a legacy that is even remotely as powerful Andy and Angie.
Andy, you will be missed each and every day. We promise to give Nana an extra kiss for you every time we visit.
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