In July, Josh’s sweet Grandfather passed away. Lino P Juarez lived a long fruitful life. He loved his family, his children, his grandchildren and his great-grandchildren too. His life was one to be celebrated! When we heard that Grandpa had passed from this life, we packed up our family of five and headed down to the South Texas Valley to celebrate his life. I have struggled with how to summarize a trip that was filled with so many joys, and yet, acknowledge the grief that came with saying good-bye to someone so dear.
While talking with Josh’s cousin, I mentioned how surreal it was to have this beach week, in the middle of “sno cone season.” She responded, “Grandpa would have wanted this for you! Josh works so hard and this is his gift to you.” The perfect words to capture our week and also who Grandpa Juarez was to us.
In 2005, Josh took me to South Padre Island for the first time. We stayed on the island, in a condo that his Grandpa rented for the family. A couple days into the trip, Josh asked me to marry him. The happiest day. We celebrated with his family and his Grandpa prayed a beautiful blessing over our lives. SPI was and would forever be a place of priceless memories.
Our first Babymoon, multiple holidays, a wedding, celebrations… family. SPI/Brownsville was this place that seemed to welcome us with open arms, sweet memories and warm beach breezes. Grandpa was always there to pick us up at the airport in his big white farm truck. He would hug us and remind us HOW important these trips to The Valley were. Family time was so important to him!
This year, we took our family of five to The Valley. We travelled to SPI to celebrate the life of Josh’s Grandpa Juarez.
Seeing life through the filter of your children’s eyes is always revolutionary. Their innocence, the way they process emotion- it is without fear or the bondage of time. I told the kids delicately, the day before our last-minute trip, that Grandpa Juarez had finished his earthly race and gone to be with Jesus. I expected lots of questions and braced myself to answer them with grace. But, I was so wrong. They both new the fight Grandpa had endured over the last year. They had seen him in the hospital bed. They had said their nightly prayers for his strength and asked Jesus to comfort him. So, when the words left my lips, I watched their innocent faces. Faces that had never known the weight of death. Jonah’s eyes lit up, “Mommy! That’s awesome! He’s with Jesus now! I bet he can run REALLY fast…” My heart felt shocked and challenged, my four year old saw the excitement of being reunited with Christ so clearly.
Traveling with kids is always an adventure. Thankfully the big kids are great listeners, they love the adventure of everything and flying has become easy with them. Miles did amazing too! He napped in the Tula and nursed on the plane.
We rented this amazing condo near the beach and were overjoyed to see the beach so beautiful (it hasn’t always been super clean). The condo had a super warm pool that the kids loved and bunk beds that were equally as entertaining. 🙂
We spent the week splitting our days between the beach and driving into Brownsville/San Benito for family gatherings. The week was priceless in many ways! Miles LOVED the beach, LOVED his hands in the sand, gasped at the waves and napped in the stroller. Jonah spent hours searching for shells, building sand castles and “Hulk-smashing” the waves. Norah could have boogie-boarded all day!
Then, the time with family was precious. Josh’s aunts, uncles, cousins, they all love so affectionately and embrace my kids so warmly. Days spent with them make me wish we lived closer together.
Ultimately, it is Grandpa Juarez and his wife (whom I never had the chance to meet) that fostered this intense foundation on the importance of family. Grandpa often drove to Tulsa without telling anyone he was coming. He would sit and just smile as the kids played. He would hug and love them and say, “mi hito” or “mi hita” as he pulled them close. He loved Norah and Jonah in a priceless way. Last year, in the hospital, I was pregnant and we didn’t know the baby’s sex yet. Grandpa was on the vent, but awake. Josh was telling him that another baby was coming and we don’t know if it was a girl or boy. Grandpa shook his head and pointed at Jonah. “You think it’s a boy, Grandpa?” With his squinty eyes beaming, he nodded his head again and again. I can’t imagine his pride when Miles entered our lives.
Our kids were his great-grandchildren. His posterity, his genes, his promise to God being fulfilled. He left us a legacy to carry on and I know Norah, Jonah and Miles will represent their Juarez name well…though we may need to teach them some Spanish so they can truly appreciate their roots. 😉