Today is the fifteen anniversary of the death of my maternal Grandfather, Gus. There is so much about my grandfather I probably don't know. I was in my twenties when he died, so I was fortunate that I grew up knowing him. My paternal grandfather died when I was only five, so the memories I have of him are few and most are just stories told from my father and other relatives who knew him best. I don't even know what day he died. I should try to find that. My paternal family tree is pretty hard to fill in but I will tackle that one day soon.
Grandpa Olivas wasn't a real complex man. He wasn't a great business man, he worked hard and always provided for his family. I don't believe he finished high school but he was smart, caring and compassionate. He was a veteran of World War One. He was stationed in France and apparently saw some pretty horrific things. Mom says he didn't talk much about his experiences in the war. I believe he was awarded a few medals too. He then worked for the rail road and I believe that's how he met my grandmother who was teaching school at the little school near Glorietta. It's not all that far from Santa Fe, but in the 1920's it was miles and miles away. The way I know the story is that he'd pick her up on Friday afternoons and bring her to Santa Fe and then he'd bring her back on Sunday night so she could teach during the week. Now it's maybe a 20 minute drive, I imagine back then it was a much longer journey. Commuting was not a possiblity then.
He then worked as a security guard at the Federal Courthouse. Mom remembers taking him dinner at night. Even though she didn't live with her parents, (her aunt raised her. it's a long story, which is quite interesting and the making of a good fairy tale I think) she'd accompany her brother and other younger siblings to take him something to eat, as he worked at night. Then Santa Fe was a small town and safe, that young kids could walk the mile or so from their home to town without any fears or dangers.
He had six children with my grandmother, raised one of my cousins and enjoyed all his grandchildren. He had a stubborn streak, on that runs through the veins of all his children and grandchildren. It's one of the charms of the Olivas family. ;-)
So, he had a stubborn streak. He loved the wrestling matches. He'd drive down to Albuquerque to watch the fights, as he'd call them. You couldn't tell him that they were staged and it was entertainment. He'd get very upset and offended. He also loved baseball. He'd squirrel away in his den to watch TV. He smoked lucky strikes forever and he loved poker. He and Grandma would trade bards from time to time, but they loved each other so much. He was pretty stoic and nothing seemed to get to him. I think Mom said that when she died, he came to her, knowing her soul had left this world. She said he cried that morning.
There are other memories that always bring a smile to my face. In his later years, he had a blue chevelle and he'd pick me up from St. Mike's from time to time. He and Grandma were married for nearly 65 years and lived most of those years in the little house on Delgado Lane. My great-grandfather gave them the land and helped build the house. After Grandpa died, the children sold it and sadly it's no longer in family hands. It's been rennovated and turned into a million dollar property with a guest house where Grandpa's garage used to be. The lillacs are long gone and yet when I drive by it, I see the house as it was, not as it is.
Rest in Peace, Augustin.