As I age, the past becomes more important to me. I think about my parents, their parents and all the generations that came before them, and with the exception of the last few generations, they have all been forgotten, and I cannot help but think how sad that is. It is not only sad, it is wrong. They deserve to be remembered. They lived and loved just as we do now. They worked, toiled, played, failed and succeeded, raised families and had dreams, only to be forgotten by time. I cannot accept that. I see the value in our ancestors. Our children and their children deserve to know who they were, they deserve to know where they came from. We would not be here but for the fact that our ancestors came before us.
I never knew my father’s father, my grandfather Santiago Madrid De La O, or at least I don’t remember him, he died when I was one year old. What I do know, I learned by listening to my father. My mother’s father, Augustine “Auggie” Osuna, was not around much when I was growing up. I saw him a only a few times in my life. Perhaps that is the driving force behind my desire to spend so much time with my own grandchildren, to love them and give them memories that will last a lifetime. The only grandmother in my life was my grandma Mary, who shared her love freely with all her grandchildren. I know I speak for my brother and sister, and all the cousins when I say that we have never forgotten her, She lives in all of us. She was and is blessing in our lives. My father’s mother, my grandmother Gumesinda, was a stranger to me. My father did not have a good relationship with his mother, so consequently, by default, neither did I. I only saw her a handful of times in my life. My children grew up without a grandfather as well, at least not with my father. He passed just weeks before my oldest daughter Meranda’s third birthday, and though I strive to keep his memory alive, the reality is, my other children never knew him. They did however have my wife Jeri’s father, their Grandpa Huizar (Henry Huizar) in their life when they were younger, and they have not forgotten him, nor should they. They are blessed to have had both of their grandmothers in their lives; their Grandma Huizar, who has since passed, and their Grandma “Grannie Annie” De La O.
I am slowly becoming obsessed with knowing the past. I have one goal in mind and it is what drives me. It is to bequeath my children, and their children’s children, a legacy. How wonderful would it be to have first hand knowledge of our ancestors told in their own words. As a Hispanic American of Mexican descent, I want to know who the first ancestor was that came from Spain, and on the other hand as a Mexican American, what native blood, if any, is in me. As a descendant of New Mexicans that have been in this country for centuries, I want their stories told, and I want them heard. I want to now what they ate, where they lived, what type of work they did. I want them to be remembered. My wife is a Tejana, what stories are in her family history? We should all want to know!
I have been told that I have a photographic memory regarding the past. Well, I don’t know about that, but yes, I do have a good memory about the past. Maybe because it was such a good one. No ones life is perfect and mine certainly is no exception, but it was and is a good life. I want my grandchildren to know about my life growing up, with both my sister and my younger brother , warts and all. They should know about the days growing up with all my cousins on both sides of the family. How lucky we all were to have each other. They should know about the aunts and uncles that made up our lives when we were growing up! It should be ingrained in their genetic memory, in their spiritual DNA.