| <<-- : 04.22.05 : -->> |

9:57 a.m.

Iíve heard so many stories about Tatay and us kids way back when. And to be honest, I donít really remember them all and Iíve never really been a great storyteller. But there was always one thing I can say I was good at, and thatís to see someone for who they are. All of those stories are only bits and pieces that make up the man. And I guess deep down inside, I felt it was more important to hold on to the one image of him, and thatís of a father.

For as long as I can remember, Iíve known him as ďTatayĒ. And this is before I even knew the English translation of the word. Little did I know, I was calling him father, and rightfully so. He was everyoneís father. He took on this role for the entire family, for all three generations. And for one such grandson, who lacked a stable father figure for most of his life, Tatay served as an exceptional example that was always there, caring for every one of us.

My memories of him are scattered and many, but I do remember that when I was a kid, I was especially attached to him. Being too young to get my own juice, Tatay would have to get it for me, and not without protesting against Grandma getting it for me. I didnít want Grandma to get me juice; I wanted Tatay to do it. I guess some say that I was a brat back then. And some could say that I still am. But it goes without saying that Tatay loved me anyway.

Throughout high school, Grandma and Tatay lived with us in our house. The language barrier that was always there became more profound and the wonders of adolescent development took the best of me. I distanced myself from my grandparents. I was unable to see how that would have been the best time to get to know them and to learn more about where I come from; because now in my mid-twenties, I am able to see more clearly the importance of family.

I worry that the kids to come will grow up way too skinny because if it were not for Tatay, we would never have learned how important it was to ďconsume your food.Ē I can honestly say that I am unable to leave the dinner table without a clean plate and without those words forever etched in my brain. My greatest lesson from him will always be to never be wasteful. It is amazing how many people in this country go without learning that simple value. Thankfully, I was fortunate enough to not grow up in poverty. I thank Tatay and my family every day for that. They were able to carry us over into our adult lives with so much to gain and grow from. Sure, there were hard times. But without Tatayís resourcefulness and values, we would not have survived the way we did.

This is why when each and every one of us in this family succeeds in life; we will owe so much of our fruitfulness to Tatay. He has taught us the value of the penny, the importance and respect to food, and the rewards of family, of which I am very fortunate to be a part of.

No other family is more capable of celebrating life in every aspect than we are. We owe at least half of that to our very own Tatay. My only hope is that the legacy he left behind will be carried on throughout future generations of the Pepito family that every one of us will be as stern and loving to our own children. His values will not be lost; instead they will thrive within each of us and will carry the memory and his spirit for years to come.

spoken at my grandfathers funeral last week.

| <<-- : : -->> |

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© 2006 by Anthony B. Riva
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