I am 40 years old and yesterday I lost my first grandparent to a long battle with cancer. I know I am blessed beyond understanding to have had 40 years with all of my grandparents on this earth. My grandparents have always been more like my other parents. They were woven into every part of my life.
My Grandma Bonnie is my father’s mother. We have known she was going to pass for sometime, and she has been suffering for too long. So when she passed through the veil of this mortal world, I knew she would be met with relief, peace, and comfort that was absent these past many months. As I sat on my couch yesterday sending messages of love and compassion to my parents, siblings, and aunts, I was so moved to recognize how much I truly loved my grandma. I was lost in thoughts of happy memories, gut-wrenching sadness as I wouldn’t be able to share my kids life with her in person, and ultimately a joy I couldn’t describe in her heavenly reunions.
My grandma’s father, Geno, died when she was a young girl, and for over 60 years she never had a day when she didn’t miss him. She spoke of him often, and in my mind’s eye I can see them reuniting in bonds of love that can only be born through separation and struggle. Her father’s pride in my grandmother, because of the things she suffered and sacrificed to bring happiness to others, must be overflowing. I can only imagine what I would feel for my daughter in the same situation and that thought fills my heart with joy.
A few days ago, my dad asked me to write the obituary for my grandma (you can read it at the end of this post). I was so honored to be chosen and as I spoke to my aunts and my parents about what they wished to say it was so wonderful to hear their love and gratitude for their mother. What kind of hit me as I was writing the obituary, however, was when I started to list all of her children, their spouses, their children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren. My grandmother has left a legacy in all of her posterity. I was overcome with emotion when I thought about what that legacy might be. I thought of many things, some probably everyone thinks about in situations like this – love, hard work, faith, etc – but as I thought about that over the past few days I realized something that has changed me. The legacy that my grandmother has left is determined by those of us that are here and charged with making something of our lives.
What do we do with what is in front of us? I cannot speak for anyone else, but I feel a resolve to be the man that my grandmother taught me to be. I feel a resolve to be a peacemaker, to serve and help those who need help, to love and cherish my own children and family members, and most of all to have faith in God. It is the responsibility of those of us who are here on earth to build and solidify that legacy for my grandmother. She laid a foundation for us to build upon, and even though she wasn’t perfect, she showed us what we are capable of doing even in the face of difficulty, pain, and long odds. I challenge my family members to find inside of them the courage and fortitude to grow grandma’s legacy. With our own efforts and desire we can make our family, and the world around us the kind of place Grandma Bonnie would have wanted us to build.
The most emotional part of this whole process came about an hour after my grandma died and I had sent my messages to family members. I needed to tell my kids. They had never dealt with death in their lives before, and when they came into the room and I told them grandma had died, I was flooded with all the emotions that had been building up and we just cried together and hugged each other for a long time. It was a special moment I will never forget. We spent some time talking about how they felt, and the things they said touched my heart. Later in the day when my parents arrived to stay at our house we had a little sacrament meeting together and gave everyone a chance to say some words that they felt about the Savior. There was a spiritual strength and peace that came to us all. I could see my kids feel the spirit and feel their love for God and for their grandmother solidify into a confidence and gratitude. I also think it made them want to cherish their grandparents, my parents, even more.
It is probably cliche to say it, but ultimately I feel like the point of me writing down my feelings here is that when someone we love passes away, we have a choice. We can choose to let the grief and sadness become an obstacle, or we can choose to build upon the legacy that was left for us and create something that would make our loved ones in heaven proud. I am looking forward to joining with my family and especially my kids to do just that and build a legacy my grandma Bonnie would be proud of.
I love you grandma and I will miss you, but I am happy you are with your parents and brother again.
Bonnie Rose Caputo Lucero: Our Loving Family Mother
Our beloved Bonnie Rose Caputo Lucero passed away at home on August 2, 2020, at the age of 78 after a courageous fight against cancer. Bonnie was welcomed home to Heaven by many loving relatives including her younger brother Danny, her mother Jean, and most of all she is finally reunited with her loving father Geno who passed away when she was only a young girl.
Bonnie is survived by her siblings Joe, Toni, and Joan; her childhood sweetheart and husband of 40 years Victor Lucero; her loving children Geno (Tammie), Julie (Don), Victoria (Sione), and Laura her angel caretaker these past difficult months; her adoring grandchildren Jared, Leslie, Jessica, Christopher, Genevieve, Donald, Landon, Niko, Cameron, Tyler, Demi, Jayden, Brandon, Matayah, Kaleo, Eliseo, and Bella; and her great grandchildren Benjamin, Allie, Noah, Ethan, Matai, Kingston, Harper, Max, Eli, Lucia, Ben, Sophie, Roman, Domo, Tito, Josiah, Lillian, Jasmine, Ava and Kalanite.
Bonnie was born in Salt Lake City on February 26, 1942 to Jean Keen and Eugene Antonio Caputo. She would tell almost anyone who asked that her greatest dream was to be a mother and her dreams were fulfilled in so many different ways. As a young girl, she unexpectedly became a mother figure for her siblings when her father Geno passed away. He was a proud Italian man and her Italian heritage was a source of pride for her entire life. She continued her role as a mother figure for all of her nieces and nephews and their children as well. She became the glue to the Caputo family and loved her siblings and their families so deeply.
On February 27, 1960 she married her sweetheart Victor and became a mother to their four children. She taught them to love and have faith in God, work hard, respect others, to love and forgive others, and most of all she showed them how important it was to have a mother that loved them unconditionally. No one on earth was more proud of her kids than Bonnie.
As her kids grew up, Bonnie became the “mother” to hundreds of young people at Glendale Junior High as well as the neighborhood “mother” of Utahna Drive. She was a protector, a confidant, a friend, and a supporter to so many kids. There have been countless numbers of these students and neighbors, decades later, who have visited or reached out to let her know how much she meant to them. Her impact on the young people in Salt Lake City is truly impossible to measure.
After retirement, Bonnie’s efforts as a mother figure did not end. She became a mother figure to so many of her grandchildren. Helping them when they were in need, spending time and loving them when they felt alone, and most of all, expressing her pride and love in them no matter the circumstances. Even as her health deteriorated, she still loved nothing more than spending time and loving all of those to whom she was a mother.
As the mother to our family and many others, Bonnie leaves a legacy of love, service, and compassion that is rare to find. We all love her so much and know that she is happy and at peace with so many loved ones and watching down on us. She is surely filled with so much pride and gratitude to each one of us for helping fulfill her dream of being the greatest thing in the world…a mother.
A small Celebration of Life Service will be held Wednesday, August 5, 2020 promptly at 6 PM at Ignite Church (1055 North Redwood Road, Salt Lake City, Utah)
Mass will be held Thursday, August 6, 2020 at 10 AM at the Cathedral of the Madeleine (331 E. South Temple, Salt Lake City, Utah).
Internment to follow at Mount Calvary Cemetery (275 U St. Salt Lake City, Utah 84103).