© 2018 Bob Romero – Reprinted with permission from Shining Lotus Metaphysical Bookstore newsletter May 2018
by Bob Romero
Scott Gym – In April 2014, I was in Trinidad Colorado to give the acceptance speech at a banquet in Scott Gymnasium, for my father’s induction into the Trinidad State Junior College Educational Foundation Hall of Fame, almost 27 years after he had passed away. My dad had worked at the college for 36 years. While my father did not go to church often, I thought that he followed the principles of Jesus Christ more than anyone else I knew, through his extraordinary acts of kindness. Now more than 30 years later, I’m still hearing stories about what he did for people, although he never mentioned them to me.
When he died, my family started a scholarship in his name at TSJC. We were able to raise enough money so that with the interest made on the contributions, there was enough to pay for tuition for a qualified student for a year. Then the foundation got a matching National Education Association grant for a total of a million dollars, and then quadrupled that total, due to very wise investments. Now there are over 80 scholarships offered annually, some of which like my father’s, offer full tuition.
Over the years, my father did everything from putting the roof on the administration building, installing new hardwood gym floors, mowing the lawns, shoveling sidewalks, firing up boilers to warm classrooms, being security for football and basketball games, painting classrooms, and cleaning classrooms and offices. So how was I able to get someone from the maintenance crew into the Educational Hall of Fame? I cheated, or at least I felt like I did. I used the eulogy that Roy Boyd gave at his funeral. Mr. Boyd was the Business Manager and Vice President of Buildings and Grounds, and a founding member of the TSJC Educational Foundation. He was also acting president for a year, and most importantly, he was my dad’s best friend. The eulogy that he gave was so inspiring, that we asked him for a copy. He talked about how he would lend my father to schools and businesses to teach their employees, or help them solve a custodial problem. He also mentioned how dependable my dad was, and was a real Rock of Gibraltar, and that the employees mispronounced his name as “Fiddle”, instead of Fidel, as an easy shorthand expression of love. Mr. Boyd would sometimes catch my dad giving a pep talk to discouraged students. Mr. Boyd had recently passed away, but I figured how could the board go against the wishes of a founding member.
In my letter for dad’s nomination to the board, I relayed the story of when the head football coach died of a heart attack, my dad would get up an hour earlier every morning, to start a fire in the furnace in the basement of the coach’s home. That way the house would be nice and warm when the children got ready for school. In the 40’s, coal furnaces were used to heat homes by starting a fire with paper and wood, and then putting coal on the fire in order to last through the day, or through the night. The only way I found out about this was because one the children came back 40 years later, to thank my dad, and to work in the hospital as a nurse. She was there in the hospital to help him during his last days.
The secretary for many of the college’s presidents also submitted a letter of support. She stated that there was a poor young student who commuted 70 miles every day from Kim, Colorado to Trinidad. My dad let him stay in the gym overnight because of severe snowstorms. My dad also helped him with money for food. Twenty years later that student came back as president of the junior college, and he made sure that everyone knew what dad had done for him.
I was somewhat nervous about giving the acceptance speech, because unlike giving a technical paper, this was very emotional for me, and I would not be able to finish the speech during my rehearsals. As I sat there at the banquet table, and looked around the gym, a ton of memories flooded my brain. I loved being in that gym from the time that I was little, to the time I left Trinidad. I watched many great high school and college basketball games there. My dad would sometimes let me in the gym to practice my shooting and dribbling skills. And like every young basketball player, I would visualize sinking the winning basket. I saw my future brother-in-law, and then my brother, box there as a fundraiser for the high school. I saw Spencer Haywood play basketball for the college, before going on to an NBA hall of fame career. And I finally got to realize my dream of playing in the TSJC invitational basketball tournaments in both junior high and high school. While attending college there, I got to go to many student-sponsored convocations about current events, like hearing Dick Gregory the black comedian and activist, speak about civil rights and the Vietnam War. One of my favorite concerts in January 1970 was seeing Martha Reeves and the Vandellas perform to a packed gym, and belt out one of my all time favorite Motown hits, “Heat Wave”.
When I went to podium and began to speak, I noticed that the words flowed out smoothly. I had to do my best, because this was about my dad. I mentioned how important the college was to him as it was not just his job, but also his life. I talked about his dedication to the school, and how he also helped students. I went on about how many times after I moved to Denver, I would meet someone who attended TSJC and when I mentioned that I was the son of Fidel Romero, they would say, “Oh yeah, I know Fidel. How’s he doing?” He didn’t teach any classes, but he taught many students about life, including me. I continued on how both he and my mother didn’t have the opportunity to go to college, but they realized the importance of an education which they instilled in us, and that the school serves as a portal for the students to accomplish their dreams. The scholarship in his name continues his legacy of helping people, and especially students, because they are our future. When I sat down, and looked at the pictures of my dad flashing on a big screen, I realized that this was my most memorable moment in that gym, because this was all about my dad. I love you, Dad.
Sebastiani Gym – In November of 2016, I was in Trinidad for my mom’s funeral. There was an earthquake in 2011 that caused damage to Holy Trinity Church where my mom attended mass. A restoration project closed the church, and a makeshift church was created in the school gymnasium where I went to high school. Trinidad Catholic High School had been closed for several years, and so the Gym was available until the Church was restored. At first, I was disappointed that the Church wasn’t available, because my mom not only went to church there, but she would also light candles and spent a lot of time praying in the church.
I was asked by my family to give the eulogy, which I knew would be tough. As I sat in the folding chair waiting to speak, I looked around the gym and the memories poured in. This was a gym that I also loved being in, because I spent so many hours from sixth grade through twelfth grade practicing and playing basketball, and I enjoyed every minute. There were the high school dances, church bazaars, spaghetti dinners, and high school graduation. There was a concert that I especially remembered in April 1970, which featured Glen Yarbrough as he sang one my favorite folk songs from the 60’s, “Baby the Rain Must Fall”. He made fun of the smallness of Trinidad by saying that he went to “the” library and checked out “the” book.
When I went to the pulpit and began to speak, I noticed that the words flowed out smoothly. I had to do my best, because this was about my mom. The following two paragraphs are parts from the eulogy in which I described what an amazing woman she was.
Her father passed away when she was 8. Because of that, she did backbreaking work in the beet fields as a child along with her older brother, in the late 1920’s, and in the early 1930’s, to help support the family. This was during the Great Depression and at that time, there was no government help. Somehow she and her family survived. That toughness would define her life. She lost her husband in the war, and had become a widow with three children when she was 27. She was devoted to her kids, and she provided the love and discipline necessary to raise them with good morals and ethics. Several years later, she met my dad and I became the “ours” of “yours, mine, and ours” as dad was a widower with three kids. I was the baby of both families, and the little half brother to all of them, although I never heard the word, “half”. My mother and father greatly loved and respected each other, as she thought that he was kindest, gentlest, and nicest man that she had ever met, and he worshiped the ground that she walked on.
She had a very strong will. She gave up smoking by putting a pack of cigarettes on the windowsill and each day she would tell it, “You don’t boss me!” It took two weeks. When my dad died, she bought a car and taught herself to drive. She lived in her house by herself for many years, and was never afraid. When we would go out to eat or go downtown or go to Wal-Mart, we would always meet someone who knew her. They would hug her and many times they would tell me “I just love your mother”. Her friend of 93 years, Lena, came to visit mom in the nursing home. Mom was 99, and Lena was 100, and so they both couldn’t hear very well, even with hearing aids. So Lena’s son and I used whiteboards so that they could communicate. Mom wrote, “You are my best friend.” And Lena wrote back, “I love you Lucy”. Mom used to say that she was not a very social person, but the fact of the matter was, that she was the life of the party. She took it upon herself to entertain everyone. When I pushed her in her wheelchair down the halls, many of the staff and residents would say “Hi Lucy!” grab her hand, or touch her shoulder. When someone went by, without acknowledging her, mom would tell me in Spanish that some people are friendly, and some are not. Then she would tell me something else in Spanish, which I was glad that it was in Spanish, so that no one knew what she was saying. She had her little sayings that she said a lot, but she still made us laugh every time. Some of the sayings were in Spanish, and there are some that I can’t say in Church. When mom went into hospice care, I could not believe the number of people that came by to see her besides family. There were quite a few residents and a lot of the staff. Many of them were not directly involved in mom’s care, but they all knew her. They asked me if they could come in and see mom and tell her goodbye. People, who were total strangers just a few months earlier, cried with me and told mom that they loved her.
When I sat down, I realized that this was my most memorable moment in that gym, because this was all about my mom. I love you, Mom. Even though she was feisty, and quite a character, the reason so many people loved my mom, is because she took a genuine interest in people, and made them feel special about themselves. You could hear it in the glee in her voice, and see it in the smile on her face, when she greeted people that she knew.
It was not a coincidence, or even a twist of fate, that these two events took place in the two gymnasiums that I cherished so much, growing up in Trinidad. It was instead, a very special gift from Spirit, that I was able to give homage to the two people that influenced me the most, in my two most favorite venues in Trinidad. My mom and dad taught me how to treat people, not just by what they said, but also by their example.
Bob Romero has been a diligent student of esoteric spiritual subjects and metaphysics for many years, with a life-long quest for answers. He has submitted new and original articles that focus on life lessons and experiences he wishes to share with our readers and the world.