Jose Perfecto Martinez Garcia, my grandpa.

Last weekend, my grandpa passed away. I was given the honor of delivering the eulogy at his funeral, which took place on July 7, 2011. This is an unrevised version of the eulogy for those interested.

Let me begin by thanking everyone for joining us in honoring the life and memory of my grandfather, Jose Perfecto Martinez Garcia. I’d also like to thank the entire Garcia family for staying strong during this tough time.

Since Thursday, I’ve tried to draw from my memories of Grandpa, trying to figure out the right anecdotes to do him justice. Honestly, there are too many to count. Grandpa’s always been the solid foundation of the Garcia family — devoted husband, steadfast father, nurturing grandfather. I’ve always relied on Grandpa to be there, and it’s going to be weird to walk to the back of the house to an empty room; but, for the first time in our lives, we have to get used to his absence. Now is the time for us to say our final goodbyes and treasure what we have left: our memories.

Grandpa’s unwavering strength, not only in the last year, but since I’ve known him, has always been his defining characteristic. His hands were scarred with decades of tireless labor, and they symbolized strength of will, courage, and passion. And until his last moments, Grandpa held on tight. Since the 1950s, and before, Grandpa’s done everything he can to not only make a life for himself, but to make sure his family had a roof over their heads. Whether it was through working for a nickel a day or offering the homes he built, his family had a place to sleep at night and food to eat.

During the hot summer afternoons, back when my mom, Hortencia, Felicia, and I lived next door, Grandpa would show up with a plate of food — often his hamburgers, which, to this day, are the best I’ve ever tasted. You can ask my friends, East Coast and West, and they will tell you I can be found bragging about these perfect burgers. It’s no secret that the way to my heart when I was a pre-teen was through a delicious hamburger.

During the cool fall and cold winters, Grandpa would say “Let’s go,” and we’d follow. He’d take us to Montgomery Ward’s and buy us pants and sweaters just so he knew we were keeping warm.

In middle school, on a sick day, I would spend the day with Grandma and Grandpa while my mom was at work. Grandpa would walk in with an empanada or chicken noodle soup and toast. Of course, we all remember Grandpa’s cheese tortillas. I still haven’t figured out how to make one quite as perfect.

Grandpa was kind, benevolent, and often hilarious. We were reflecting just the other night, and one story came to mind: devastating to some at the time, hysterical to me always. The grandchildren, and some great-grandchildren if I’m not mistaken, were playing in the living room. Grandpa suddenly entered the room holding a dead rat by the tail, laughing, scaring the youngsters. I’ll admit that I didn’t want that rat to touch me, but once the ordeal was over, it became one of the most amusing moments I could remember. I look back favorably on the moments like that where, as children, we were terrified of Grandpa’s sense of humor and affection. And each of you know exactly what I’m talking about. I mean, who here doesn’t know what “clik clik” means? [This was a sound Grandpa made when he’d pinch the grandchildren]

I’ll never forget Grandpa’s smile, Grandpa’s laugh. Though we could communicate almost seamlessly, a substantial language barrier always existed; but watching The Simpsons in the early evening and laughing at the same jokes was amazing. There was nothing quite like sharing a laugh or five with my grandpa.

Grandpa’s shoulders — rock solid from carrying sledgehammers, pipes, lumber, bricks, and basically every heavy object you can imagine — were also soft and welcoming. Shoulders fit for tears. One Easter Sunday, sometime during the mid-90s, I got in huge trouble for my recurring pyromania. Naturally, I roped Steven into that trouble. Sorry, Steven.  After my prompt discipline from my mom, I sat with Grandpa, crying. He assured me, through words and actions, that while what I did was wrong, he would always be there for me. Now, had he known that my affinity for setting things aflame had almost blown up his Malibu a few years before, perhaps he’d have been less compassionate. But that’s a question for another day. Again, sorry for roping you into that, Steven. And thank you for dousing that fireball with water.

Grandma: I can’t even begin to imagine what you’re going through right now. To be married for most of a century, 67 years, is an astounding demonstration of love and devotion. It’s going to be difficult to find a new normal, but please know that you are not alone. You’ve been so strong and I’m so happy you’ve been able to maintain your sense of humor, even during this trying week. We’re here for you, Grandma.

I think we should all take a moment and thank Salva for everything he’s done for Grandma and Grandpa, not only over the past year, but for the better part of the last twenty years. Salva has selflessly devoted himself to making sure Grandma and Grandpa maintain a certain quality of life. He’s taken them on countless visits to the doctor, administered grandpa’s medication, monitored Grandpa’s sugar levels, and even made sure the house kept a steady stock of paper towels. Everything that could be easily taken for granted, like paper towels, Salva made sure to remember. All of this for Grandpa and Grandma. Salva stepped in when I was a teenager, taught me how to drive, how to shave, and I thank him for that. Now’s the time for us to acknowledge everything Salva’s done for Grandpa, Grandma, and the rest of us. Without Salva, perhaps we wouldn’t have had the opportunity to tell Grandpa goodbye this past weekend. Salva: thank you so much for your selflessness, for your support. I know I can never repay you for what you’ve given me and the family, but know that your efforts won’t go unappreciated. Thank you so much.

Grandpa did not die alone; instead, he shared that moment with his entire family. We came together to be there for Grandpa, and, incidentally, for each other. Some of you I hadn’t seen for years, but we were brought here by this somber occasion. Our togetherness this week is what Grandpa always wanted. We’re not strangers in a room, but a family — a family built by two of the strongest hands in this church, in this world. Let’s honor what Grandpa built.

I’m going to miss the walks with Grandpa and Bisby [Grandpa’s longtime dog], the rocket-speed rides in his 1980 Malibu, the sound of Gunsmoke coming from his room. It was his time to go, as a man like Grandpa was not fit for this world. And you know, now that Grandpa’s in Heaven, his first order of business is to fix the creak in the Pearly Gates.

Let us not mourn Grandpa’s death any longer. Let’s celebrate his life. Let’s look back and smile. It’s what he wants.

Grandpa, I love you and I miss you. Thank you for building this family. You’ll always be the best Grandpa in the universe.

Jose Perfecto Martinez Garcia
April 18, 1921 – July 2, 2011


One Response to “Jose Perfecto Martinez Garcia, my grandpa.”

  1. Eva Garcia Says:

    This was a difficult read without needing a tissue or two. You’ve come up with a very touching and memorable eulogy. I want to thank you for reminding me of the wonderful father in law i once had. Thank you.

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