Dedicated to -
Maddyson Ann *Ethan Anastacio*Henry Douglas*Dylan Ignacio*James Benedict
Ten years ago I stopped celebrating Father’s Day. The previous December Dad had passed away and I just did not want to think about not having my Daddy. The pain of losing him is as fierce today as was then, but this year I decided it is time to celebrate what he meant as a Father to me, and his true legacy, so that his Grand Great Legacies might get a glimpse into the man that loved their mommies and daddy, as well as their grandmother and grandfather.
The greatest inheritance is the not the money, homes, land, or material property left for a person’s family. It is the set of life lessons passed on from one generation to the next. Those gifts given to one’s children and grandchildren get lost in the everyday, so this is dedicated to Dad’s great-grandchildren.
Legacy is first defined by Merriam-Webster as “a gift by will especially of money or other personal property.” That’s the typical average idea of legacy, but the dictionary goes onto define legacy as “something transmitted by or received by an ancestor…”, which is a longer lasting gift, and one of greater importance. True riches are things that last an eternity – they cannot be lost due to the economy, poor health, divorce, bad judgment, etc. We can mentally walk away from our legacy of values, but they lie deep within our core if they have been gifted and received from parent/grandparent/great grandparent to child. My father, Benito, did just that by gifting my brothers, myself, and his grandchildren with his life of giving and love.
His Great Grand Legacies, Maddy, Ethan, Henry, Dylan, and James, deserve to know what their great-grandfather would have taught them had he lived to see their beautiful faces. As Henry and James’ Grams, and Maddy, Ethan, and Dylan’s great aunt, I hope that by honoring my father’s legacy of living a kind and respectful life, which was grounded in the following five lessons, is one our next generation will carry on as they grow and take care of their parents, family, and community.
Dear kids, Your Grandpa Ben would have told you that having faith is what makes you appreciate the good, and helps you get through the bad. That believing in someone greater than yourself keeps you humble, thankful, and grateful. He would tell you that God is not mean, but loving and like your own Daddy, only wants good for you. He told me one time, “Cindy, God didn’t leave you. You left God. Open the door to him, and he’ll be there, just I like will.” Henry and James, your Uncle Douglas once told me when he was six, “Mommy, you’re never lost. God is always with you.” I think he must have learned that from your Grandpa Ben. You are never alone sweeties. God is always there.
Your great-grandfather practiced his faith in the Roman Catholic Church, said a rosary three times a day, and prayed for this children and grandchildren every morning and night. He would not judge you if your faith was called by another name; he would just want you to know that without faith, life is a lot harder.
GRANDPA BEN’S LESSON #1
Your faith is your one-to-one relationship with a higher being (Grandpa Ben proudly called him God). That faith will keep you humble, safe, and grateful.
Dear Little Ones, this is another belief that your Grandpa Ben truly believed in and taught his children and grandchildren was an important part of his living true to himself– love of nation. Grandpa Ben loved the United States. He did not think it was perfect, far from it, but he did believe it was the greatest country in the world.
He loved politics and introduced the seriousness of it to me and my brothers at an early age. He also showed his love for America by joining the United States Navy in 1954 at the age of 17! One day you will have to ask Grandpa Mark/Uncle Mark to tell you about Grandpa Ben’s funny tales. Mark also served in the Navy, so love of Nation for him meant military service, but Grandpa Ben encouraged his children to serve in other ways too. Great Uncle Michael serves as an advocate, and in his community as a volunteer helping others learn about nature. Great Uncle Perry volunteers time helping candidates running for local and national offices. And I live and breathe politics and government. Your parents are all involved in participating in politics and government by either voting or advocating for those who need a voice.
Grandpa Ben would want you to know that America is a land worth serving in any capacity that helps others. Find a way when you get a bit older to help others who need your gifts that were given you. Maddy, that might be your brainy brain creating a new way to help lost animals; Ethan, that might be your fast thinking helping to develop a strategy to keep our water clean; Henry, that might be using your quick words to give voice to those that cannot be heard; Dylan, that might be using your sweet charm to help folks in legal trouble; and James, that might be your clever personality to create and develop a new way to grow food. It does not matter what you do, Grandpa Ben would have said to you; it just matters that you do for our nation.
GRANDPA BEN’S LESSON #2
Pride in the United States of America requires that you give back to our country by being a participant – volunteer to help those in need, give voice to the voiceless, serve in our Armed Forces, or use your voice and run for office or help others do so.
Okay kids, this is a big one! Family is your landing spot, like your bed at night – it is where you find comfort and are safe. Grandpa Ben taught his children that taking care of family and visiting them was a way of showing kindness and love. Being a part of all the family, in his case ate up a lot of time. He never stopped calling his parents or siblings because he believed that seeing to family is about love, respect, and kindness; it does not mean you always like or agree with everyone in your family, including your parents. But despite disagreements, your family and especially your parents will always love you and want the best for you. Family is like being surrounded by all your stuffed animals.
As you grow older and one day move away from your mommy and daddy, and grandparents, remember to call or visit them. They are full of wisdom and have been around a lot longer. Grandpa Ben would say to each of you, “Every generation thinks they know more than their parents, and every generation comes to realize that they don’t. How could you? I’ve been here longer,” he said to us. He would also tell you that your parents will guide you to your dreams, but they are not responsible for them – he was a tough guy, but had a heart of gold for your mommies and daddy.
GRANDPA BEN’S LESSON #3
Your family is like all your stuffed animals surrounding you on your bed. Some are old, some are new, but they all love you and will comfort you. Take care of them by loving and respecting them. Be kind, call to talk for a bit, and visit them every once in a while. It will make you feel like you are still surrounded by all those animals.
THE BIG WORLD
Dear kids, Grandpa Ben would want each of you to really listen to these to lessons. The Big World, the one that you will one day be in without your parents, is not to be feared. He would tell you, “You go out there and make it what you want it to be. Be respectful, but don’t be intimated (thinking you are not worthy).”
The first lesson Grandpa Ben would teach you is not to think you are less than someone or better than someone because of your education, job, or title. He told us, “Titles, letters in front of or behind someone’s name, job titles at work don’t make you better or worse than anyone. Respect others, be kind, you are not above or below anyone. You will find dumb people everywhere, so think for yourself. Do what is right.” Little ones, respect your parents and other adults, but know that you are smart, you have a right to speak up in a soft voice – use it, and use your wisdom to help others up.
Grandpa Ben’s second lesson is about money and the size of your home or car. He told us, “Remember, that kids you deal with are no richer than you. You are all equal…it’s their parent’s or your parent’s money. And when you do have your own money and home, don’t think more of yourself or less of yourself based on a dollar sign…you will miss out on meeting good people. If someone treats you less than respectful, walk away because they don’t know kindness and respect.” Life is more than a dollar sign…money is good, money is necessary, but money does not make your heart or self-worth rich. Love, kindness, joy, laughter, and a smile makes you the richest person in the world.
GRANDPA BEN’S LESSON #4
You are not your title, education, or bank account; you are your heart and soul. Stay true them and all will be well.
ME, MYSELF, and I
Okay little ones, here is the biggest lesson that Grandpa Ben would want you to know – being yourself is important, but not so much that you forget to respect family, friends, community, country, and God. Your great-grandfather was ahead of his time in raising his children. He guided us to find ourselves, to think for ourselves, to seek our faith the way we felt most comfortable, to be strong in relationships, and to be happy in whatever job we held. Grandpa Ben respected our decisions, even if he did not agree.
Your great-grandfather spent time with each of his children individually and all together, so that Grandma Alma could have time to relax. He taught us how to shop for our mother…put her wants above her needs (buy her perfume and not a toaster!). Grandpa Ben taught us to cook, to work on our cars, to take care of our mom and grandmas, to raise roses, and to take care of each other.
He made sure we knew he was not a perfect man, but he worked to be a good man. That as a father, he would make mistakes – Grandpa Ben told his children, “I’m not a hero. I’m your dad, and I make mistakes too, so don’t put me on a pedestal.” I do not believe any of us did, we just loved him for being himself. Love trumps liking, not liking, arguments, disagreeing on politics, and fits of anger.
Grandpa Ben raised us be ourselves, and to dream big. He had rules that we had to follow, and we did. When we did not, his silence forced us to think about what we had done, why we did it, and to figure out that we had better not break his rules again. My daddy, your mommies and daddy’s grandfather, and your great-grandfather wanted us to be strong individually, to balance that strength with love and kindness to family, and to be one with our faith. He loved us so much, but he loved your parents even more. His grandchildren were his pride and joy, and had he lived to meet each of you, you would each have been his greatest achievement, because he could see his legacy of kindness, love of family, and God living on.
GRANDPA BEN’S LESSON #5
Be yourself, stay strong, live your dream, but not at the expense of family, friends or your heart. Be true to yourself, love who you are, and have faith, because when you do, you can truly love others unconditionally.
Well little ones Grams/Aunt Cindy could end this here, but Grandpa Ben has a message for each of you –
Maddyson Ann (Mark II – Mark) Grandpa Ben would want you to know what he told me as a young girl, “You are very smart. Do not be afraid of being smarter than a boy or better at your job than a man. You go out there and be strong.” Sweetie, he would be so proud of his beautiful intelligent great-granddaughter. Happy Father’s Day, Mark and Mark!
Ethan Anastacio (Amanda – Mark) Grandpa Ben would want you to know that your strength is in your love of family, and your ability to think about others. Your happy smile is the key to making his granddaughter, Amanda, happy. That makes him happy. Happy Father’s Day, Eric!
Henry Douglas (Tyler – Me) Grandpa Ben would be in love with his Blondie’s little man. He would be so excited that your birthday was so very close to his. Henry, great-grandpa would love you to know, that your protection of James, and your excitement for learning makes him proud. Happy Father’s Day, Alex!
Dylan Ignacio (Amanda – Mark) Grandpa Ben loves your happy wild self. He knows that you are smart and kind. Your love for your mommy, makes him very happy. Happy Father’s Day again, Eric!
James Benedict (Tyler – Me) Your Grandpa Ben would be so excited that you both share a name and look a lot alike. Grams sees her daddy in your expressions. He’s proud of your focus and ability to read other’s expressions. Your love for his Blondie makes him happy. Happy Father’s again, Alex!
Happy Father’s Day Daddy! Thank you for making your children, grandchildren, and great-grandchild rich beyond a dollar sign. Thank you for the lessons of love of God, Nation, Family, World, and Self…we all miss you and your funny jigs. Be well, be happy, and be at peace knowing your legacy of faith carries on.
Love, your daughter, Cynthia Anne.