Wednesday, July 13, 2011

A farwell to a special lady...

A new angel is in Heaven this week. Her name is Vi Aguiar and she is my grandmother. She lived a spectacular life that lasted 86 years but after many years of illness, the Lord needed her to continue his good work. She left us on Wednesday, July 6, 2011. I had a special relationship with my Avo (this is Portuguese for grandmother) and I am going to miss her greatly. I had the privilege of providing her eulogy during her funeral Mass yesterday in Turlock at Sacred Heart Catholic Church. It was by far the most difficult speech I have ever had to deliver in public and I will be the first to admit I was a blubbering mess but I got through it and I know I made my Avo proud. Today I'm sharing those words on my blog. For many, none of this will make sense but that's okay. Vi Aguiar was a fabulous woman and this post is my message to her. Thanks for reading. - Colleen

Our Wedding Day
 July 5, 2008
Who was Elvina Virginia Aguiar? If you knew her you probably knew her as “Vi” and didn’t even know her name was Elvina. But don’t fret, that is the way she wanted it. Her first name was her best kept secret. But all of you are here today because she touched you in one way or another.

God delivered her to us here on earth on October 1, 1924 in the then small Stanislaus County community of Patterson. She was born to parents Joesph and Mary Azevedo and was the youngest in the family behind brothers, Tom, Joesph and Henry “Hank” Azevedo. Like many in this era, she was only allowed an eighth grade education. What she may have lacked in a formal education, she made up for through her own devise. She loved to read and even more loved to learn about the history of her time. Books and movies were her vice. I especially enjoyed watching the occasional classic musical or an Elvis Presley flick with her. After all Elvis was her favorite. And with the introduction of cable and satellite television she was sure to find a movie of her liking on the “idiot box” as she warmly referred to it. She was a sports fan too following the 49ers for years. Now I will admit she also loved a good steamy romance novel and you could usually find one in her purse, on the table next to her chair or next to her bed.

My sister Christine with Avo
aand Aunt Vivian during her
 bridal shower.
We could all be so lucky to live through 86 years, nine months and five days. There is no question that Vi made the most of her time her on earth. She met the single love of her life, Joseph Victor Aguiar and married him on June 22, 1946. Together, in Hilmar on their dairy, they raised three children, Daniel, Richard and Kathleen.

Family was so very important to Vi. I can remember many family gatherings – Easter, Thanksgiving and Christmas Eve to name a few. The family got bigger and the number of family events increased exponentially when her kids were married and when it was all said and done the three kids gave Joe and Vi ten grandchildren. There is a good chance you knew this because I don’t know any woman who was more proud of her family and all they accomplished then Vi. And she told everyone about these accomplishments, probably pulled a newspaper clipping or photo from her purse to show you too.

Avo with her sons Daniel, Richard (my dad)
and daughter Kathleen at our wedding.
Right behind family being important was Vi’s love to be involved. I think she was part of every single Portuguese and catholic organization in Merced and Stanislaus County. She and Joe were always on the move – conventions, meetings, festa’s – they attended them all. You might even recall them taking your ticket while parking your car at the Stanislaus County Fair where they earned the distinguished title, “Broadway Joe and Vi” for always manning the Broadway Gate.

They also loved to travel and rarely went alone. I can remember many stories about Washington, DC with the Sherriff’s Posse and Hawaii. Vi and Joe had MANY friends. But the stories I remember often involved Arnold and Angie Souza, in fact some who knew them might say Joe and Arnold and Vi and Angie were attached at the hip. They all left this earth before her and I know it was hard for her to adjust but today she is reunited with all of them. Heaven will never be the same with these four back together again.

Avo with my brother Ricky at
 his High School Graduation.
Vi’s involvement did not stop there. She chaired the District Six Dairy Princess committee for many years. Of course I know she was also pretty proud when my sister and I graced the runway of this annual local event. Both my mom and I were fortunate to also participate on the Dairy Princess committee after she retired. My husband Jake will tell you that my love of talking, being engaged and in the middle of everything is identical to Vi’s. I hate to admit this fact in front of this many people but he is right however I am very proud to share these character traits.

Avo with my nephew Trevor
after he was born in December of 2008.
So who am I you ask? Many of you know but for those who don’t I am Colleen Aguiar Cecil. I am the oldest daughter of Richard and Mary Aguiar and first granddaughter born to Joe and Vi. While she was Vi to all of you she was Avo to me and my cousins and her 12 great grandchildren including my son Clayton.
To us Avo was homemade applesauce, lemon meringue pie and a big pot of homemade Portuguese beans. She greeted us each time she saw us with a hug and kiss; a kiss that left a mark the same color of the usually dark red lipstick that matched the color of her perfectly painted acrylic finger nails. This lady always had lipstick on, her nails perfectly painted and her hair was always done. She was probably the first person to advise me that schedules can be flexible but never cancel a hair appointment! And she had one ever week only missing if she was in the hospital. In fact I may recall a hair dresser or two coming to the hospital during one of her visits late in life to put some life back into her hair. Again she took great pride in her appearance. 

Avo with Donny her godchild
and his wife Jean
If you were new to our family, she was the first to make you feel welcomed in what was probably a loud situation – we Aguiar’s are not known for being quiet and this can be intimidating. I saw this first hand when I introduced my now husband Jake to Avo five years ago. Her Portuguese persistence and the fact she knew too much about me and Jake’s Italian charm made for hours of entertainment for the two of them at my expense. In fact I’m pretty sure it’s safe to say that while she technically has 10 grandchildren, you could easily add up the married additions and say she had a total of 16 grandchildren because each of our spouses was loved just as we are and I know they too are going to miss her.
Jake with Aunt Vivian and Avo
at my brothers high school graduation
party. This was the first time she met Jake.
So today we have to say farewell for now. Avo we love and miss you already. But know you have taught us how to love, showed us the importance of laughter and having fun and even taught us how to create your favorite dishes. Like any good Portuguese woman, Avo’s favorite dishes don’t have recipes cards. However with many family events and all of them including a meal we all spent some time in the kitchen with Avo. Because of this I know I can call on my sister Amanda for Avo’s applesauce, my sister Christine for a lemon meringue pie, my Aunt Kathy for some rice pudding and I’m pretty proud to have learned to put together a pot of Portuguese beans that she told me were good; even if I did not put any ketchup in them. It drove her crazy that I did not put any ketchup in my beans. However now that she is no longer be in the kitchen cooking for us, there is a good chance that my beans will have a dash of ketchup in them just for her. While they are not Avo’s perfect dishes, they are influenced by her and we will think about her every time we serve them.

This was the day Avo met my son
Clayton for the first time.
Today Avo will reunite with the many friends who have gone before her. After all she lived 86 years. She was funny, she would read the paper each morning, never missing the obituaries, she would say, “looks like its going to be a good day, I didn’t read my name in the paper.” Well this week she did read her name but I can tell you this, its still going to be a good day because today we celebrate her, a wife, a mother, a grandmother, a great-grandmother and a friend to everyone she met.

I will end with a little piece of advice for Saint Peter today. “Open the gates and stand back, she’s coming through and you are not going to stop her!” - July 12, 2011 by Colleen Marie Cecil
Avo on our wedding day, July 5, 2008 with my immediate family.


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