In 1882 a Billy the Kid impostor shot my great-grandfather in San Marcial, New Mexico. His widow re-married a cruel and unforgiving man who drank hard and beat his stepchildren often. He would take one of those children, my grandfather, place him on a wild horse, tie him to the saddle and let the angry beast loose. This ordeal resulted in injuries to the body and the soul. The body healed but the soul did not. The sins of the father were passed on to the son.
Joe Gomez was born very poor in Gallup, New Mexico in 1912. His mother died in childbirth before he was two. His alcoholic father, who beat him often, pulled Joe out of school when he was twelve and put him to work to help support the family. Joe often lamented the fact that the money he earned was often spent on rotgut whiskey and more beatings. Again, the sins of the father were passed onto the son.
Joe grew up tough in a tough world. He jumped trains and rode the rails during the Great Depression. In Texas he worked in FDR’s CC camps where he often fought with bigots and racists. He always thought his birthday was in September but when he had to produce his birth certificate for his marriage license he discovered he was born in April.
Dad was tough but never cruel, he was strong but never a bully. He worked hard but he never drank hard. He loved his family. He was a family man. My father and mother provided all that we needed to grow physically, mentally, and spiritually.
I believe the essence of Love is the buck stops here. I believe in turning the other cheek. My father absorbed the pain so his children wouldn’t have to. Life slapped his face but he turned the other cheek. He made a silk purse from a sow’s ear. He did not pass on the sins and the pain of his father.
I believe we will all be judged by our fruit. I believe we will be judged by what we pass on to the world. I believe to whom much is given much is expected. Joe was given a barren patch of rocky desert and he turned it into a virtual orchard.
My father was a good man. I strive to be such a man. He passed onto us a much better world than the one he was given.
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