After the storm

Maestas. It’s a funny word to try to say. It’s a word that gets butchered by telemarketers, new coworkers, and even some long time friends. The loose spanish translation of Maestas means “the teacher.” That one word, isn’t just a word to me. It’s a name. It’s my name. It’s a name handed down to me by a man. My grandfather, my teacher. Almost three weeks ago, the man who gave me my name lost his life.

Even typing those words make my eyes swell with tears. Tears of sadness that I lost my hero and my mentor. Tears of joy that his suffering is no longer and he is now with his God and his bride. But mostly tears of sadness. Gramps was more than a grandfather to me. One of my first memories in life is sitting at the Willow Island lake just outside of Cozad, fishing. I remember getting the line stuck in the tree behind me. He showed me patience. I remember the first time he saw my oldest son who bears his name, Jack Bonifacio. That day, he showed me joy. I remember when my grandmother had cancer, how he was always doing what he could to make her comfortable. He showed me faithfulness. I remember the last time I saw him. As I went to get in my car, he walked up and cornered me against my car and laid his head upon my shoulder and we just stood silent in each others arms. He showed me love.

1 Cornithians 13:13 But the greatest of these is love.

The pain is still fresh. Each day I wake up with him on my mind. Thinking about the empty table, the empty coffee pot. I think about his old dirty phone, sitting on the table with nobody to answer it. I think about two empty beds in that house. I know that thinking about those things do me no good and gramps wouldn’t enjoy my heart aching as much as it is. I can’t stop the pain. This is something that will fade with time. My mind knows how sorrow and mourning works. I know that in time, the pain will dull and the memories will slowly fade. The clear way I can now hear his voice in my head will become fuzzy. Before too long I will live each day with subtle reminders of his presence in my life. The memories will then bring me joy and comfort. When I hear my son yell YO really loud, I will laugh and enjoy thinking about how gramps and Jack would talk to each other. But now, my heart aches. I want it to ache. I’m not ready for the fuzzy memories. I want to keep him as close to me as I can.

My grandfather was a lot of things. He was handy, he was honest, he was a stubborn ass, he was handsome, he was faithful. But most importantly, he was loving. I write this now, knowing with all of my heart, that he loved me unconditionally. He loved me like a son. I loved him like a father. I love my stepfather dearly, he is a wonderful man, but my grandfather is my bloodline and my legacy. To be raised by him in my early years in the home that he built with his own two hands, makes me proud that he often thought of me as the son that he never had.

With the end of each phone call came a repeated series of phrases that still make me laugh and appreciate him to this day. “I love you Nicholas, so much. Give my love to Jenny and Jack and…what’s his name? Right..Miles Cody! God bless you, God be with you every day. I pray you never get sick. Take care of your boys and Jenny. I love you Nicholas.” That would be repeated at least 3-4 times before we would finally get off of the phone. At the time, I thought it was silly…it kind of is. But now I understand why he did it. He never wanted me to feel unloved. He wanted to make sure that with all he had, he knew that in my best and worst of times that there was 1 man who loved me unconditionally. Unconditional love. That’s who he was. Love.

The week of his funeral, it all is a blur. I don’t recall a whole lot from the week but there are two memories that will last with me a lifetime.

1) The day of the funeral, I asked Jack if he remembers gramps. Without prompt or delay, Jack said “Gramps is happy.” Children are smart.

2) I was honored to be able to help carry him to his final resting place. Feeling the weight of him tightly on my hand makes me proud.

Maestas. To many people, it’s just a name. To me…it’s an honor to carry the name. I will do all that I can to make sure that when people hear the word Maestas, they think of honor, faithfulness, and love.

I dedicate my life to making you proud of me. To bring pride to the Maestas name. To raise my boys to be like you. I’ll never forget you gramps. Never. You are who made me who I am. You made me a man. I’m proud of you, as I know that you are proud of me. Now go, rest in peace muchacho.

God bless you. God be with you. Always. Give my love to grandma.  I love you, Bonifacio.

God bless you. God be with you. Always. Give my love to grandma.  I love you, Bonifacio.

God bless you. God be with you. Always. Give my love to grandma.  I love you, Bonifacio.

God bless you. God be with you. Always. Give my love to grandma.  I love you, Bonifacio.

Yo.

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