Written and delivered by Lexia Juria Simmons (Monday, August 7, 2917)
Good morning, everyone, I’m standing here today to read to you my farewell letter to my grandfather. The last section I will attempt to read it in Spanish as a tribute to the fact my grandpa was bilingual. And I know, I’ll try to remember to roll my “rrs.”
Hi Grandpa, as I stand here today I see you. I see you in the 4 sons, 10 grandkids and 4 great- grandkids, whom you’ve left behind, some of us who sit here today, all of us who will miss you forever. I know you feared death, grandpa, but I hope you find peace up there knowing you live on through us. And when you do get there, grandpa, please, please, try to be good.
I know you didn’t belong to just us though. You impacted so many people in the 82 years you inhabited this earth. You were the definition of a pillar in the community. If I had a dollar for every time someone said, “Oh! You da Mr. Simmon grand-daughta,” I would have more than enough to send you on that Spain trip you dreamt of taking.
Do you remember the day I interviewed you for my university project? It will be a memory I will hold dear to my heart. I learnt so much about you that night. I learned about Stuart Lloyd Simmons, the man. I learnt you started teaching Spanish and History at the high school at 18 years of age in 1956. You stayed with the Jesuits for 44 years after, about twice as long as Eldon has been alive. You were even the first layman headmaster of St. John’s High School. For my younger cousins, grandpa was the first principal to have a wife and family.
They said if it weren’t for Gloria, he would have been a Jesuit himself. All those years you gave to the Jesuits, I feel like you should have gotten an award or something. Throughout your career you taught a lot of students and as you humbly pointed out that night, your students included 75% of the politicians and ½ the doctors and engineers in Belize. After you retired from the field, you continued to live another 21 years, about as long as Kalmn has been alive. You lived a long life grandpa. That night I asked you if you love it, the teaching, you said, “There was nothing in the world I love more.” I was gonna ask if it was more than your family, but I didn’t want you to have to lie.
Speaking of love, remember when I asked you about how you met grandma. I’m not really sure how accurate this story was as the other half wasn’t there to collaborate, but I love it anyway. You said that she lived in the house behind you and her dad didn’t want you anywhere near her. I remember you recalling this detail with amusement. You being the charmer you were, walked with your bicycle next to her, as she went to work every day. You used to bother her soul and constantly asked when you could take her out. Her response was always the same, “Bwai, get outa ya.” Time went by and you contemplated giving up. One day you rode up beside her and didn’t get off your bicycle, what the right point was; if she was just gonna shoot you down anyway. She looked at you and said, “Bwai, get off that bike and try again.” You did as she said, and she agreed to start seeing you. As the years went by you married her, had 3 sons, Kevin, Lyndon, and Marlon, and you tried to have a daughter. You did your best to hide your disappointment when my dad popped out: Stuart, son number 4.
You continued to bother grandma’s soul throughout her lifetime, putting on all white when you went to the club, every Sunday, without fail. Seriously grandpa, was it really necessary to put on all white? Was there power in it that helped cards disappear, making you the infamous Houdini?
What was it about death that scared you? Were you afraid of getting there and having St. Peter say, “Boy, bring me your card.” Maybe, you were afraid of being forgotten? I, unfortunately, cannot help you with the first one, that’s between you and St. Peter, but I can help you with the last one. I promise to remember you every Christmas when there is no pillbox with money anymore. I promise to remember you when a baseball game is playing on TV. I promise to remember you when I get a glass bottle Coke from the fridge and do not have to pay $1.50. I promise to remember you when I ask someone if I’ve gotten fat, you always told the truth, for better or worse. I promise to remember you when summer rolls around and there is no plane to go and meet. I promise to remember you as the younger cousins get older and they hit milestones you won’t be here to see. I promise to remember you when I have a child of my own, and I will tell them of the great man their great- grandfather was. I mean a little lie never hurt a kid. I promise to remember the contented look on your face as your grandchildren gathered for a group picture for your last Christmas. Sometimes you have to accept the fact certain things will never go back to how they used to be. But, I promise to remember you as you were.
I see you grandpa. I see you sitting there in that armchair you loved so much, surrounded by your sons’ wedding pictures you had not touched since your wife died. Baseball playing on the TV, pictures of your son’s families as a background on the wall. In this armchair, you sit with your shorts, polo shirt, Nike slippers on your feet, glasses on your face, and a baseball cap atop your head. Tutu, Mr. Simmons, Chief, General, Maestro, Sheriff, Cachucha, Houdini, Dad, Grandpa, we love you, and we know. “I love you more.”
Te veo, abuelo! Te veo sentado en ese sillon que tanto te gusta, rodeado de las fotografias de matrimonio de tus hijos que no has movido de sitio (sytio) desde que fallecio tu esposa.
Te veo, abuelo con tu camisa de Polo, zapatillas de Nike, tus gafas y gorra de beisbol mientras escuchas un juego de beisbol en la television.
Te veo, abuelo, rodeado de las fotografias de tu familiar visbiles en las paredes
Te veo, abuelo! Tutu, Mr. Simmons, Chief, General, Sheriff, Maestro, Cachucha, Houdini, Dad, Granpa. Te queremos mucho, y yo se diras, “I love you more.”