If you happen to follow my posts on WordPress, Facebook, or Twitter, you know that I was able to spend an incredible day with my father, Eugene “Queno” Martinez, this year. We laughed, ate, talked, cried, and shared simply the most amazing time.
Unfortunately, not a week later my dad found himself in the hospital with pneumonia, had a stroke, became incompacitated and passed away on June 30, 2016. It’s been a very difficult couple of weeks for my family.
This last weekend my entire family was able to gather to pay our respects, hold services, be together, and celebrate his life. I was asked to say a few words at his service, and a few of my relatives asked that I share my written words with them. Though during the services I went off-script, I still wanted to share these written words with them, and you, as I hope there might be some meaning here that resonates with you.
I’m Rob Martinez, Queno’s youngest child, and on behalf of our step-mother, Dolores, myself, my siblings, Tomas, Patricia and Henry, and our entire families, we thank you so much for being with us today as we reflect on the amazing journey of our father, Dolores husband, Eugene “Queno” Martinez.
Our father had a wonderous, amazing life, and personally, after deep reflection I have come to better understand many of the roadblocks that he faced, and simply crushed through, during his almost 90 years of life!
His life was one filled with twist and turns, and though he had been faced with many adversities he persevered through it all to become simply an amazing example of a hero to many of us here, and to others across California. He did so much for so many for so long, and well…
I wanted to make this just a bit interactive, so bear with me as we try something:
By a show of hands, and please keep them risen, who has ever done any of these with Queno?:
-Picked fruits or vegetables, worked with him building something, a freeway, garage, extra room, pinewood derby car, or worked in the yard with Queno?
-Been fishing, played golf, gone on vacation, traveled in a car for hundreds of miles with children?
-Shared a Pepsi, lunch, burrito, or had dinner with him?
-Gone to, listened to, or watched a Dodger game with him?
-Been to church services, a wedding, a baptism, or any other religious service with him?
-Been with him as he held one of his grandchildren, or/any baby for that matter, and seemed to communicate directly to the baby’s heart, mind and soul with a subtle, soft voice?
-Sang, danced, laughed, giggled, watched a movie, been to a swap meet, or stopped at a yard sale with him?
-Whose ever had him come see them in a sporting event, performance, graduation, parade, or any other activity?
-Who has had ad the pleasure of being provided BBQ, guacamole, menudo, or simply was fed by him, and treated like a king or queen by him?
Who has been able to sit and talk about life, passion, hard work, love, and who knows that he deeply cared for you?
Well, I gotta tell you, my hand would have been up for all of these, and by the show of hands today, I think these rememberances for each of us adds to his life’s legacy. Each of us has unique memories of our father, and each of us has those special times where we might believe that Queno was only thinking about us at that very moment, and you know what? You would be correct.
He had that amazing ability to give love to so many at the same moment that this is why I believe that we each felt so special when we were able to be with him, or even have a quick phone conversation, and even if we were not able to be with him, we just knew that he was thinking about us. So, now it’s up to us to carry the legacy of our father with us, and live our lives, with him being just a little closer to our hearts..
My dad was known for a few sayings,
“Think twice mijo!” Which I think he said to my brother Henry a few more times than he ever said to me. It was his way of reminding us that what we do matters, that what we do has consequences, good and bad, and it was his way of getting us to realize that we can have an impact on our lives, and the lives of others.
He also would say, “if you follow your passion you will never have to work a day in your life.” Which some have credited to some some other famous person, but I’m sure it really was my dad who said it first. He meant that if you truly believe you can accomplish something, let no one, or nothing stop you. He was the Nike guy, before Nike was an idea, “Just do it!”
He was known to also say to each of us, “Keep going to school, keep learning, even if it’s just one new thing, keep learning.” He truly believed that education was the key to success. He returned as an adult man to graduate high school, and continued to learn about different things, and technologies throughout his life. He was so happy that I returned to school at 46 to obtain my Doctorate degree. Heck, he even had Apple TV so he could watch his beloved Dodgers.
Several of us were so fortunate to spend this last Father’s Day with him, and for those of you who may be on Facebook you probably saw a little fun video we posted that we shared with everyone that focused on his hand-built BBQ -yes, brick by brick, at almost 90, he build that BBQ. I was also able to share with my dad a written post that I wrote the morning of Father’s Day, where I shared some of his amazing accomplishments over numerous obstacles. Yes, I was also able to share those sentiments with him the next morning, and he laughed greatly at the video clip, and teared up after reading my post. He was astonished that over 500 people at that time (now closer to 700) had seen our video, not even a day after it was posted. I told him that we had made a positive impact on people, and that made him smile that sly little smile of his.
The day after Father’s Day, we had the opportunity to talk about his accomplishments, as I saw them, and he simply looked at me and said to me, “I just tried to do what was right, I love you kids, I love my family, and I love my wife, I love my life. I can ask for nothing more. God has been good to me.” He also said, “I just tried to be good.” The humility of my father was extraordinary. I don’t think he truly understood the impact that his life had on others the brothers and sisters he helped raise, his own children, the literally hundreds of relatives that felt so much love from this man, the thousands of acquaintances that he might have coached, provided scouting tips to, taught how to work, learn a trade, raise a family, the miracles truly go on, and on. I believe that if we follow his example, and just try to “Be Good” each of our lives, and our collective lives will be better.
So God, as I conclude today, a little request if you will: Please be good to our daddy, Dolores’s husband, friend and caregiver to all, and a simply amazing man. Please, please make sure he has a cold Pepsi at the ready, the ability to watch the Dodgers, a fresh tortilla for snacking, some dancing music, and watch out, because as we know my dad, we can all predict, that he will work his way into the number one Angel position in short order, I just know it, since he’s that kind of guy!
Daddy, I love you, we all miss you, and we know that you will continue to guide us when you can! We thank you for our “Beautiful” life, and for being the beautiful person you were.
Love you always,Robert
Dr. Rob Martinez, is known as “Resiliency Guy” on Facebook, is on Twitter as @ResiliencyGuy and works as the Assistant Superintendent of Human Resources for the Fairfield-Suisun Unified School District.