Joshua 24:15

...choose you this day whom ye will serve...but as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD." Joshua 24:15

Monday, January 16, 2012

A Legacy

One Man's Heritage
Late Tuesday night, January 3rd I lost my grandfather, the patriarch of our family. I have avoided blogging about him because I'm not fully ready to get on the emotional roller coaster I know will begin. The longer I avoid writing and thinking about 'it' the longer I will spare myself the flood of emotions, tears and confusion that death causes me. I don't take death very well. I don't do funerals, memorials and burials very well. They cause me to contemplate life and death. I end up dissecting life and trying to figure out HOW we even exist. By the end, it all seems so weird and confusing. It drains me and haunts me for months. Alas, I know I have to deal with it. I have to deal with my emotions.  Not only do I have to deal with his passing, but also his life... his legacy.

My grandfather was very 'old school.' There are many aspects of his life that will remain a dark mystery to me, mainly, because that's the way I'd like to keep it. But these things I DO know about him...

My grandfather, Esteban Elizondo, was born to Spanish-Mexican parents from Basque country. From everything I have read and have been told, the Basque people are beautiful and warm people. Basque country itself is one of the most amazing places in Spain. Sadly, there is a lot of terrorism there also. The Basque people, as loving and warm as they are, are also hard and passionate about their beliefs. It is no surprise to me that my grandfather carried these traits in his blood! (The passion - NOT the terrorism!) He had a rough upbringing, of which I know very little.

He married my grandmother at or around the age of 20. They were married for 65 years!!! The marriage was hard and at times painful. But, neither ever gave up. My grandparents were traditional and believed that once you married you stayed married. (My grandmother is a wonderful example of what a Godly mother and wife should be!) My grandfather left behind 14 children (1 died during birth, 1 as an infant, 1 as an adult and several miscarriages) and many, many grandchildren (close to 100) and great grandchildren. He taught my dad dedication, respect, loyalty, love for family and to work hard. When my grandfather suffered his stroke almost a year and a half ago my father drove 12 hours every other, sometimes every, weekend. He would sleep while my mom drove, then care for his dad night and day while he was there. He almost never left his bedside. My dad respected his father. At times my dad would apologize for something my grandfather had said or done, but never once spoke a word against him. My dad was loyal and fulfilled his commitment as a son. I believe that my grandfather was proud of him and that in his final months, when words were no longer his to speak, he contemplated the love and loyalty my dad showed him. I'd like to believe that he was at peace with himself. I choose to believe that God gave him peace and the knowledge that his sins were forgiven. I am thankful that the next time I see my grandfather will be on a street of gold, with a new body, probably young and vibrant like he once was, like his children remember him.

Many of our family gathered to say a final good-bye to the man that was such a huge part of all of our lives. I heard people say things about him that were very sweet and touching. But, I was not prepared to hear my grandmother's final good-bye. Her words will stay with me forever. They have changed the way I view my marriage. The words she later prayed in the living room of the home they built together will remain in my heart as a pillar of my faith. My grandfather's legacy is a part of me - a part of all of us. Every family member will carry him wherever we go. His memories, his laughter, even his moments of anger, will stay with us. I am proud to be a part of this family, the Elizondos. We are all so different, yet we are bonded by the love of two people. I loved my grandfather, and I choose to remember the good times. I choose to live my life in a way that would make him proud, but most of all in a way that would honor and glorify God...the God he loved and found on his journey of life...the one True God, from whom true forgiveness and love and the peace that passes all understanding overflows.

July 16, 2009