Friday, September 4, 2009

A LEGACY LIVES ON - Grandmother of 300 leaves lessons behind

By ANN WORK Wichita Falls Times Record News

Sept. 2, 2009, 9:14PM

Except the Vernon grandma didn't have just a handful of grandchildren when she died Tuesday.

She had nearly 300.

Ninety-eight were grandchildren; 164 were great-grandchildren and 16 were great-great-grandchildren — all descendants of her own 11 offspring.

That's without counting her three stepchildren or any of their descendants — or the three great-great grandchildren currently on the way. The family purposely underestimated the total count but felt if all were included it could be as high as 500.

Actually, they have been losing track. Now, with nearly half the family attending the funeral Wednesday, family members passed out index cards to update names and phone numbers while they had their chance.

Martinez's survivors packed the 500-seat St. Mary's Catholic Church in Quanah.

“Her numbers are pretty astounding,” said Jesse Jalomo of his mother-in-law.

She knew most of them

The devout Catholic woman, whose husband, Ponciano, died at the age of 94 sometime after their 50th wedding anniversary, “could fill up our elementary school in Quanah with all the great-grandchildren and the great-great-grandchildren,” Jalamo said.

And she knew practically all of them.

“If one of my sons would come up to see her, she'd say, ‘Are you JJ?' He'd say, ‘It's JJ, Grandma.' And she'd say, ‘Are you doing right? Are you taking care of your family?'”

Family and faith were her two priorities — and she insisted on talking about both with everyone. But not by telephone. “She'd say, You come to see me, face to face. You want to speak to me, you come to my house, and you drink a cup of coffee with me.”

She didn't preach about the benefits of large families, but did believe she was brought into the world to multiply.

When Gregoria was raising her children, she and her husband were migrant workers, traveling to Wisconsin to pick tomatoes and cucumbers, then back to Texas to pick cotton.

Elva, the youngest of the 11 children, said her mother believed a wife should have a meal cooked when the family returned at the end of the day. “Then you wait on your husband hand-and-foot when he returns home.”

Only in later years did both Gregoria and her husband work as custodians at a nearby hospital.

Long marriages run in the family, with many grandchildren logging 20-, 30- and 40- year anniversaries.

Nearly three-quarters of the family live in Quanah or nearby, but the rest are spread as far away as Arizona and Missouri.

Quanah's Percilla Montes, 20, said she remembers picking pecans off the tree at her great-grandma's house and going to church with her.

“She always said that family was the most important thing, next to God.”

Great-grandchild Montes said she knows about half of her family members.

“I'm part of a big crowd,” she said. “I'm used to being in a big family.”

1 comment:

belinda said...

This is "chilling" to me because she had touched so many lives and her sins and virtues were passed down to so many people. We Moms forget how we effect those around us. I sometimes will see my sins repeated through my children and it makes me sick. (cussing, or bad temper) Worse yet is when I finally "beat" one of my sins then I see three kids doing what I stopped doing.

Only an outside observer could see what good they might have picked up from me. I am too close and can't see a thing.
I keep trying though.