In Loving Memory of My Grandpa

Grandpa and Sara, 1994

Grandpa and me, 1994

My grandpa, Alfredo de la Rosa, Sr., passed from us on February 8. He left behind a lot of people who will always miss him and never forget him. I grew up with him always being there, and I never thought about him dying – it seemed like he never would. He was one of the strongest people who ever lived. He endured many challenges in his life, and even survived cancer in his 80s. I think, for most of my family, it felt like he would always be there. He was 95 years old when he passed, which is a landmark accomplishment for most people. But still, I feel like his time came too soon.

I remember spending time with my grandpa when he was younger and full of energy. We would go outside to water his gardens and he’d pick roses and lilies for me. I still have some pressed flowers that he gave me that I treasure.  As the years passed, I remember how he hated getting older because he couldn’t do things like he once had. Once, he showed me a picture of his first-born son (my uncle Alfredo Jr.), and told me about a time when my dad and my aunt and uncles were young. I loved listening to his stories, and I enjoyed the times that we got to be together.  I always felt that those times didn’t happen often enough. My grandpa always could say a lot in a few words, and you could really learn a lot from him if you listened.

I found out a lot about my grandpa after his passing that I never knew before. I always knew he was great, but he was an even better person than I thought. Though his life was hard, adventurous and challenging, he always came out on top, and he was always kind and generous to people, even people he didn’t like. And now, as I look at pictures and listen to other people share stories about his life, I am amazed at just how incredible he really was.

Born in Mexico City in 1917, he came to the United States when he was around ten or twelve years old and learned English fluently within a year.  He moved back to Mexico as a young man and got a job as a welder at a textile mill in Rio Bravo, Coahuila de Zaragoza in 1944.  He quickly became accomplished at his craft and even created some artesian items, including a pair of rings, which are stunning and look like they could have been made by a professional jeweler.

One of my favorite stories is about him and my Welita (variant of abuela), Maria Isabel Ibarra, meeting and getting married. They met when they were young but didn’t really get to know each other well until years later.  He had been friends with my grandmother’s brothers for years, and he was attracted to my grandmother, but my Welita had a suitor. Grandpa’s family and friends were always telling him he should just marry someone else, but he wanted to wait for Welita. He said she was the only woman for him, and if he couldn’t be with her then he would never marry. Eventually, his patience paid off as she chose my grandfather as her beau. I’ve heard that they waited to marry until her mother died, because she was too busy taking care of her ailing mother to move to the United States.  My grandpa wanted to earn enough money to be able to provide for her, so he moved to Texas and began working in construction.  They constantly exchanged letters.  When her mother passed away, my grandpa came back to her, and they eventually married and started a family of their own.  In 1958, my grandpa moved the family to Port Arthur, Texas.

Grandpa and Welita 2

Grandpa and Welita wedding photo

Grandpa and Welita

Above: Grandpa and Welita in their younger days and later days.

I still don’t know enough about my grandpa’s life. I may never know enough. It seems that he lived a life full of endless surprises. He was raised by his grandparents in Mexico, and I’ve heard some great stories about his youth. He once got caught up in tornado winds while he was far away from home riding his horse. Thinking quickly, he used the saddle to strap himself to a tree to keep from being carried away by the wind as the tornado passed. I never heard what became of his horse.

My grandpa was frugal, and throughout his life, he set aside money for my grandmother so that she would be cared for when he was no longer around.  This has recently come to light, as no one in our family knew that my grandpa was only taking part of his pension and leaving the rest for her. He definitely took his family responsibilities head on and never shirked. No matter what else he did, he always made sure his family was cared for, and in doing so he created generations of people who would do the same. Grandpa never saw the inside of a nursing home because his family loved him and took care of him until he passed from this life. He spent his last days surrounded by his family. My grandpa lived an incredible life, and I will always feel like he left us much too soon. It’s so hard to believe that he’s really gone because it feels like he’s still here with us. I believe he is.

All original content copyright S.D. de la Rosa, 2013.

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~ by Sara on February 18, 2013.

41 Responses to “In Loving Memory of My Grandpa”

  1. How romantic that he waited so patiently for your grandmother’s hand in marriage. And I love your memories of your time in the garden together. I miss my own grandfather very much so my heart goes out to you.

    • Aw thank you and I’m sorry for your loss. I’ll always miss my grandpa and the time I spent with him. It’s comforting to have good memories to look back on, but it hurts that those days are gone.

  2. I love to hear my own grandfather tell stories, and I believe there’s so much you can learn from their wisdom and experience. It’s really neat to see pictures of your grandparents in their younger years, and the photograph of your Welita is very pretty. I think it’s sweet of you to commemorate him so.

    • Aw thanks Taylor. She is a really pretty lady, even still. I think her younger pictures kind of look like Kate Winslet. Haha and my folks told me that people used to tell my grandpa he looked like Errol Flynn.

      • Ha ha, she kind of does. My mom says that her dad, my papa, reminds of her of John Wayne in some ways.

      • Haha! He is kind of John Wayne-like. He would do great on Bonanza or in some old western.

      • He probably would. I love old westerns, I guess because I grew up watching them at my Mimi and Papa’s house.

  3. This was a beautiful tribute to your grandfather…he would be very Proud of you!

  4. A lovely tribute. He sounds like he was an amazing person.

  5. I feel with you! A few months has passed since I lost my grandpa and the fact that I will never get to know him better still fills me with sadness… But there are some things I know and will never forget, and.. it’s probably too early for me to try to comment on this because my tears are running now. it’s just there isn’t really anything to do about all the undone things, and the untold stories. Other than appreciate my grandmas more, and be a better listener.. and now I’m just rambling. *sending you a hug

    • Aw I’m sorry. I totally understand. I moved far away from my grandpa when I was about ten years old, and didn’t get to see him as much I would have liked in the years after. I wish that I had sat and listened to him more, spent more time with him and gotten to know him better. Now that he’s gone I’m hearing all these wonderful stories about his life from my relatives, and I can’t help but think that I would have rather heard them from him.

  6. What a lovely tribute to your beloved grandfather – he sounds like an amazing man. I’m so sorry for your loss, and I see it is a great one. My grandfather was in his 90s when he died, too, and still the pain of losing him lingers. The first picture, of you with your grandpa, is priceless, catching a beautiful moment forever.

    • Thank you, he was really amazing and inspirational. He taught me a lot about how life should be lived, just from watching the stuff he did, and how he treated people. I also really like that photo of my grandpa and me. It’s one of my favorites. My mom was always running around snapping photos back then and I’m so glad she took some of these.

  7. I’mm sorry for your loss Sara. You have given him a brilliant tribute.

  8. Wonderful tribute! My condolences.

  9. Wonderful text and photos. This is the real life. Your grandpa will be present always in all your life.

  10. Lovely tribute to him. I hope I can be as good a grandfather as that.
    The two of them looked like Hollywood stars, didn’t they?

  11. This is a beautiful, moving tribute to Grandpa. He loved you very much. You were always the prettiest flower in his garden!

  12. Sara, I only knew my fathers mother, when I was young and I was the apple of her eyes, I was her butterbean, she love me dearly and I her, and when i was 14, the one who was my sanctuary passed away, I thought my world would collaspe but being devoutly spiritual, her spirit embraced me every night since she stepped into the newness of life, with her spirit being whole. She had lost a leg when I was about 3-4, and was wheel chair bound, but i was her legs. Until this day no one can come close to my ‘Daisy Mae’, she was always my security blanket , as my mom and dad married young and had 5 kids, quickly, and i was stuck in between as each chose the ones they loved the best. But I was always hers and god’s. She taught me to love genuinely all whom I would meet, to always emulate the best tht Christ revealed to us when he came to serve us in His first visit! That golden treasure still lives within. I am sorry for your grandfathers passing and i have written many poems for many love ones of friends who passed away, know that he is always close by to you and will never leave you alone for love never dies, it only multiplies! Here is a poem I wrote that reflects the moment now and forever dear sister…God bless you, you are always in my prayers!

    ‘Butterflies’

    When ever I see the butterflies flying
    I am reminded of your smiling face,
    As I see them taking wing into the sky
    I feel emotions which are never displaced

    For deep in my heart also live the butterflies
    As they come to life within my heart each day
    While I count the many sweet memories of you
    Which in my thoughts and dreams now stay

    The sheer brilliance of their many vibrant colors
    Produce a vivid rainbow deep within my mind
    Which fills my heart with such an unwavering joy
    Allowing me to enjoy them for endless times

    And the butterflies will be my dearest treasure
    Leaving me never again quite feeling the same
    For the peace they bring can never be measured
    Because on their wings are gently imprinted your name.

    Wendell A. Brown

    • Aw thank you so much. I am deeply sorry for your great loss, and thank you for your beautiful comment and lovely poem. Your grandmother will always be with you, and I know you can feel that.

  13. Thank you for sharing this wonderful story about your grandfather. Very touching. You have a wonderful blog. I`ll sure come back to read some more. Thank you for the follow and for liking my post “We make our own luck.”‏

  14. Incredible story of love and a true gentleman.

  15. A wonderful tribute to your grandfather. I was touched by it, and understood your feelings as my grandmother was a central figure in my life and in our extended family. Grandparents are very special people.

    • Thank you. I’m fortunate enough to still have both of my grandmothers in my life, and they’re both very special to me. My other grandpa died long before I was born. I wish I had gotten the chance to know him too.

  16. I’m so sorry about the loss of your Grandpa. But I am so grateful people like him exist. And more grateful that you shared him with us. Beautiful people, beautiful pictures, beautiful love.

  17. What a wonderful tribute to your grandfather!
    I can see, seeing his face in your photos, that he was a very kind and compassionate man.

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