A Catalyst for Good
More than two years have lapsed since my grandfather’s passing. In the midst of my loss I tried to pursue the good that could arise out of that difficult experience, and as a result, I funneled my energy and emotion into the making of OBITUARe.com. My grandfather, David Ramos, was the catalyst for my decision to embark on this journey so I feel that it’s necessary to share a little bit about the man who taught me some of life’s most precious virtues.
My mom, little brother, and I lived with my grandparents from the time that I was 3 years old until I was 12. It was during these formative years that he became my role-model. Below is the eulogy I wrote for my grandpa and delivered at his Celebration of Life service.
“I’m extremely grateful to my family for allowing me this opportunity to share with all of you stories of my grandfather or Tata, as we called him.
Today we honor your husband, our father, our grandfather, your brother and your friend. We give thanks to him for sharing his love and sowing the seeds in our lives that have influenced who we are today. We remember him for his thoughtful ways, gentle smile, musical talents and the fruit from his garden.
There are many stories that can be told of David’s life. Some good and some that won’t be mentioned here today. David’s story began in the small town of Santa Paula, CA. When I think about him being born nearly a century ago I start wonder what his world was like and how it shaped him. Six years before he was born his mother Emma could not vote. At the age of four David and his three siblings experienced the Great Depression first hand. By the time he was twenty he had already seen two World Wars and served in the second as a paratrooper in Japan and the Philippines. After David was honorably discharged from the U.S. Army he married the love of his life and began sewing those fertile seeds. He spent the next decade traveling up and down the rural coast of California looking for seasonal work. Later he became a mechanic and also laid asphalt as a member of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters. Eventually, his work provided him the opportunity to buy a home for his family on Orange Dr. Needless to say, David worked hard. When he came home to rest in his chair, his children would unlace his boot strings and massage his feet.
It was a different world that he grew up in. In some ways it was simpler. Back then his kids could pile into the back of his pick-up truck and go for a ride. And in other ways it was more difficult. Take for instance that in 1962, when he purchased his home, Mexicans weren’t allowed to own property in the estates of El Rio, but somehow he found a way.
Experiences such as these shaped David and instilled in him the values and characteristics for which we grew to love. He was perseverant, stubborn, argumentative and outright combative to his last day. He was a man of strong convictions and there wasn’t a chance in hell you could sway his political views.
By the time I entered into my Tata’s life he was a born again Christian. Now you would think that the Lord would have delivered him from his rough ways. Well not exactly, he just gave him grandchildren. Tata and Nana kept a decorative pillow that read “If I would have known grandchildren were so much fun I would have had them first.” For the next 30 years of Tata’s life we all witnessed his gentler side. His home was a safe haven and his yard was our playground. Tata built us tree forts, showed us how to garden and taught us all how fix our cars as he had with his own sons. For those who didn’t learn, he did it for them. His tools would constantly go missing and no matter how many windows we broke with a baseball he loved us just the same.
He was a role model for his grandsons and taught us all that random acts of kindness along with a fresh bouquet of flowers were the way to a woman’s heart. Tata loved Nana to the end of the earth and demonstrated this in the simplest ways. When spring arrived, no one dared to pluck a single fruit until Nana had her first fig. It was she who cooked the meals but Tata who insisted on doing the dishes. He set a precedent for his granddaughters who learned from Tata how a woman should be loved. He wrote her songs, sang melodies, and played the accordion so that together they could spread the ministry of their Savior. Music was a gift that Tata carried with him through life and passed down to his children.
We thank you for these gifts Tata. We recognize your dual nature that is a part of each of us and appreciate the bad with the good. We never took it personally when you hung up the phone before saying goodbye. Instead, we will remember your tokens of wisdom, your generosity and the way you shared of yourself and the fruit from your garden. Your love for your family was unending and it is your generous and compassionate spirit that lives within us.”