Remembering Dad Saturday, Mar 14 2015 

Today marks the 17th anniversary of my wonderful Father’s passing.

Dad was born in Tubac, Arizona, into a ranching family.  His father, Grandpa Santiago, had migrated north from Alamos, Mexico, and homesteaded in the valley.  Grandpa Santiago taught his children the value of an education and of the need to learn English, and my Dad took the lessons to heart.

He was the only one of the seven children who went to college and then left the Southern Arizona area for work.  Before anybody had ever heard of government quotas or affirmative action, he was a hispanic who achieved based on his own hard work, and he rose up in the ranks of the National Park Service.  He served as the United States representative on a major expedition to Antarctica conducted by the Chilean Navy, and when he returned after five months on the ice-cutter ship, he was in high demand as a speaker all over the United States.

luis-in-uniform-resized

After Dad retired, he was invited to write his memoirs for the Journal of Arizona History, and he did so. His story, Memories of My Youth at Tubac, From the Old Homestead to Adulthood, was published by the Arizona Historical Society in 1995.  Then, in 2004,  he and my Mom were featured in  Beloved Land: An Oral History of Mexican Americans in Southern Arizona.

Dad was a pillar of the local Catholic Church, a fourth-degree Knight of Columbus, and an active volunteer in the St. Vincent de Paul Society.  He spread cheer and Christian charity wherever he went, and he mentored countless people during his active life.

In addition to people outside the family, he mentored his own seven children.  He taught us to love God.  He taught us about the value of family.  He taught us the value of hard work and perseverance.  He taught us to get an education and to aim high.   By his own example, he taught us what it means to give of yourself and to love without counting the cost.  He taught us to forgive and encouraged us to get beyond our differences with others.   He bore sorrow with manly dignity, and in the end, he taught us how to die.  He chose to die at home, and most of his children were privileged to be at his side when he crossed over into eternal life.

Eternal rest grant unto him, O Lord, and may perpetual light shine upon him.

I miss you, Dad!

Frank Cota R.I.P. Tuesday, Nov 3 2009 

My last living uncle died on the 28th of October.  He is the last blood relative of my parents’ generation.  Uncle Frankie was a gentleman and a gentle man.  He worked hard for his family and saw his wife, Aunt Toni, through a very painful death. 

I last saw Uncle Frankie when he came to the deathbed of my Mom, 2 1/2 years ago.  He was frail, but he wanted to be with her.  For that, I will always be grateful.

Uncle Frankie’s death means my generation of siblings is on the top of pyramid.  That gives me pause for reflection on my own mortality.

Frank Lopez Cota    
Frank Lopez Cota our beloved father, left his family on earth October 28, 2009, to join his wife and family in heaven. Preceded in death by parents, Francisco and Lucinda Cota; wife, Tonita Bujanda and son, Eugene Cota. Survived by daughters, Clara (Martin), Gina, Frankie Rebecca and Lucinda; son, Frank James (Alejandra); grandchildren, Gabriel, Angelica, Antonio, Frankie, Rebecca, Adrian, Danielle and Helena; great-grandchildren, Anyssa, Amaya and Jaida. He was retired from Hughes Aircraft after 32 years. Our dad loved his family. He enjoyed fishing, hunting, reading and crossword puzzles. He will be forever in our hearts and greatly missed.

Happy Anniversary Mom and Dad…and Thanks Wednesday, May 13 2009 

My wonderful parents were married on this day in 1939–70 years ago.  My Dad died in 2000 and my Mom died two years ago come July.   They were wonderful parents and it is my prayer that they are celebrating their 70 years in Heaven.  I continue to pray for them and ask that their souls rest in peace.

luis and Aggie

Their gift to us today was the sale of the house they bought when Dad retired in 1973.  It has been on the market for about 1 1/2 years, and today it sold.  Perhaps Mom and Dad decided to wait till today to let go of their last earthly dwelling.

This was one of their hothouse plants which I brought home after Mom died.  I never even knew it was a bloomer.  But it started blooming on Dad’s birthday, May 3 and continues today.  Another little kiss from my wonderful parents.

Mama's hothouse plant 2

Luis Acuna Gastellum R.I.P. Saturday, Mar 14 2009 

I have decided to re-post this every year on Dad’s anniversary.  Today marks the 12th anniversary of his passing.

 

Today marks the 9th anniversary of the death of my wonderful Dad.  Dad was born in Tubac, Arizona, into a ranching family.  His father, Grandpa Santiago, had migrated north from Alamos, Mexico, and homesteaded in the valley.  Grandpa Santiago taught his children the value of an education and of the need to learn English, and my Dad took the lessons to heart.

He was the only one of the seven children who went to college and then left the Southern Arizona area for work.  Before anybody had ever heard of government quotas or affirmative action, he was a hispanic who achieved based on his own hard work, and he rose up in the ranks of the National Park Service.  He served as the United States representative on a major expedition to Antarctica conducted by the Chilean Navy, and when he returned after five months on the ice-cutter ship, he was in high demand as a speaker all over the United States.

luis-in-uniform-resized

After Dad retired, he was invited to write his memoirs for the Journal of Arizona History, and he did so. His story, Memories of My Youth at Tubac, From the Old Homestead to Adulthood, was published by the Arizona Historical Society in 1995.  Then, in 2004,  he and my Mom were featured in  Beloved Land: An Oral History of Mexican Americans in Southern Arizona.

Dad was a pillar of the local Catholic Church, a fourth-degree Knight of Columbus, and an active volunteer in the St. Vincent de Paul Society.  He spread cheer and Christian charity wherever he went, and he mentored countless people during his active life.

In addition to people outside the family, he mentored his own seven children.  He taught us to love God.  He taught us about the value of family.  He taught us the value of hard work and perseverance.  He taught us to get an education and to aim high.   By his own example, he taught us what it means to give of yourself and to love without counting the cost.  He bore sorrow with manly dignity, and in the end, he taught us how to die.  He chose to die at home, and most of his children were privileged to be at his side when he crossed over into eternal life.

Eternal rest grant unto him, O Lord, and may perpetual light shine upon him.

Fr. Richard John Neuhaus, RIP Thursday, Jan 8 2009 

Fr. Richard John Neuhaus, recently seen with Raymond Arroyo  covering the Pope’s visit to the United States has died.  He was a brilliant man, founder of First Things and an eloquent voice of reason in today’s often confused Catholic Church.

He wrote an essay  entitled Born toward Dying in 2000 about his struggle with cancer, his subsequent surgery, his angelic messengers and his convalescence.

Eternal rest grant unto him, and may perpetual light shine upon him.

fr-neuhaus

RIP Saturday, Dec 15 2007 

kitchenaid-2.jpgWhy, you may ask, did she post a picture of a box with a Kitchen-Aid food grinder?  Well, last week, while making a batch of cookies, this 30-year-old workhorse died.  My mixer was that golden color which was so popular in the 70s, when everything was earth-tone (exactly like the picture).  I took the mixer to an appliance doctor, hoping beyond hope that he could restore it to life.  He told me it would take two weeks to diagnose the problem and he would call me on December 13.  Didn’t he know that was right in the middle of Christmas cookie-baking time?  Anyway, I dared to believe there was hope for the mixer and then the phone rang on December 12–one day early.  “Is this Fran?”  “Yes,” I said with a quivering voice.  “I am calling to inform you that the diagnosis is a worn out armature.”  “Is there a cure?” I asked.  “I am sorry, Fran, but there is none.  Those parts aren’t made anymore.  Would you like us to dispose of it or would you like to come get it?”  I replied, “please give it a dignified funeral.”  And I hung up.  What now?  I had lost a friend of 30 years and didn’t get a chance to say goodbye.

Some may argue that not much good came out of the 70s, but they were still making quality appliances back then.  My Kitchen-Aid made hundreds of batches of cookies, at least 50 batches of tamale masa, countless cakes, loaves of bread and at least 10 times a year whipped up wonderful mashed potatoes.  In addition, this workhorse ground meat for chorizo, sliced potatoes and carrots, and grated cheese for hundreds of meals.  The stand mixer is one of those things which revolutionized home cooking and being without mine for two weeks has left me feeling lost in my kitchen. 

My daughter received the modern version of the mixer 5 years ago when she got married.  Already, it is tired and just slows down when she has a normal batch of cookie dough in the works.  She told me hers won’t last much longer.  It is a shame that the quality has tanked.  In reading various forums about the products, I have learned that people really love these mixers, but they don’t have the longevity they once had.  She learned to cook using mine, and told me soon after she got hers that it just didn’t sound the same.  Because of her experience and those of others who have used the new machines, I have decided to change brands.  At this stage of my life, I hope I can adapt.  I used my mixer for most of my adult life, and it isn’t always easy changing course at this stage of the game!

A Prayer Answered Sunday, Jul 22 2007 

On June 17, I wrote about a visit with my Mom who was 92+.  My dear Mother, Agatha Cota Gastellum, died a happy death on July 12, 2007.   Her own prayers for a happy death were answered.  She had a great devotion to Our Lady and the Miraculous Medal and always trusted in Our Lady’s intercession at the hour of her death.  Mom  died surrounded by her 7 children, numerous grandchildren and even great grandchildren.

As my Mother was dying, I was struck by the similarities between our birth into earthly life and our birth into eternal life.  Our birth into earthly life is through another human being–our own mother–and she is the one who must work very hard to give us life.  Birthing a baby is rightly called labor.  Our birth into eternal life is also labor.  Our body clings to earthly life for as long as it can, and as it dies, it frees our soul for eternal life.

Mom lived a life of dignity and grace.   She loved life and embraced the joy and suffering which a life well-lived brings.  I will go to my own grave with gratitude for my own life and that of my siblings which was a gift from God and my parents who welcomed us all, and I will always be grateful for the lessons they taught us which were grounded in our Catholic Faith.  I know that as the days unfold, I will become more acutely aware of what I had in my parents and what I have lost through Mom’s death.  (My Dad died in 2000).