Sunday, November 20, 2011
I Give Thanks
My great grand father came to America as a little boy who picked fruit and vegetables. As a little boy he made money for his family. That's how things worked then, my momma tells me. His name was Bardamano, Bard for short. Bard came to the US from Mexico, a little boy who was left abandoned, frightened and outside of the foster system.... there wasn't a foster system for him to go through.
Bard grew up working for a living, not going to school, or making little friends. When we was in his late teens the owner of a mill, in the town where he lived, took a liking to his work ethic, and asked him to come work for him. Unbelievably, this was a hard decision for Bard. Leaving his family and all that he knew was not what he was raised to do or believe in; but, according to my grandfather, he did it because he wanted to give his family a chance at a good life. So, Bard left his family and went to work in the grain mill, where he quietly made his way up the ladder....not in a large way, but small incremental ways that provided him and his growing family with enough to live on.
Bard lived a quite life. He had a family. My grandfather was one of his children, and my momma remembers going to their home for holidays...gatherings that were filled with good food and happy times. It was a good life, and Bard, my great grand father, was happy and thankful to have the opportunity.
My momma tells me that Bard worked hard and made ends meet, and up until he passed she thought that he was "just a good grandfather." She had no idea that he was a great man. A quiet, great man that did great things. We went to my great grandfather's funeral a few years back... I was invited, special, by invitation; and so I went, happy to accompany my momma.
Bard's funeral was well attended by hundreds of people. We were sitting at his funeral when, one by one, people took turns coming up to the microphone to share how Bard changed their life, and how they were thankful for him. Throughout the years, and without telling anyone, Bard would take 20% of his income and buy food and school books for the migrant farmers that still lived in his little town. "It didn't matter if a child was from Mexico or Russia, it didn't matter" said one speaker, "Bard gave....Bard went to every child's graduation."
My momma never knew. Her father never knew. The family never knew. Bard did this quietly. But, I knew.
Every year, without fail, my grandfather would ask my momma to send me to visit...and, so my momma sent me. I would go with my great grandfather, and together we would visit the migrants. "Perro," my great grandfather called me, and so Perro I was when I was with Bard. Together we'd make the rounds, provide food and visit the little school where the children would learn the tools they needed to grow and contribute. My momma learned about what we, Bard and me, did together, at his funeral. My momma sat silently and hugged me and softly wept.
"The Perro Fund," said the speaker in to the microphone at my great grandfather's funeral, "was set up by Bard to continue funding the ongoing education of 5 students a year who go to college." What my momma didn't know was that Bard asked my dadz, who is a financial controller, to help him create an education endowment to establish and fund scholarships for five local children's college education. All funds paid, they just return upon their graduation and contribute back to their community.
Bard, my great grandfather, was a beautiful man. He quietly changed the world. I am thankful for him and for the love that he showed us all.
Much lub and thanks,