When our family gathers at our home, Judy always sets the head of the table for Dad. You clients know him as Len; the proud, friendly elderly gentleman who, if you were so fortunate as to cross his path while in our office, well… you know what I mean by friendly, and boy do you know what I mean by proud! Our staff affectionately call him Dad, or, in the case of two, Granddad.

Recent events find me swelling with retrospection, introspection, and emotion. The last family gathering occurred four Sundays ago; our five kids, their spouses and significant others, and our four grandkids were all in attendance — which is the definition of joy for Judy and I. Although, on this occasion, our joy was sorely muted, as Dad couldn’t make it. I honestly don’t recall another time when Dad couldn’t make a family event. So, trust me, if he couldn’t make it, it had to be serious.

While thinking of Dad, in his absence, that afternoon, while thinking about his traditional post at the head of our table, it occurred to me that one day, in what seems like the far distant future to us humans — but is a mere speck in the history of mankind — his great grandchildren will in all likelihood be sitting at our future family’s tables, as parents, grandparents, and as great grandparents to those gathered around them. And, for certain, the youngest at future’s table will have little or no (save perhaps for some enduring family tale that their elders may hold close throughout the decades to come) concept of the Mazorra family of the 20th and 21st centuries.

Sadly, Dad’s great grandkids will miss out on the impact/blessing of a life observed, inspired and adored by Leonard L. (Len) Mazorra; as Len, “Granddad”, moved beyond his earthly shell, in the most graceful way, while resting peacefully at our home on the morning of Friday, November 30, 2018. We miss him more than words can say.

Oh how I wish Great Granddad could be there for our littlest ones as he was for me, and for mine, at virtually every public and private kid-focused event you can imagine.

I have zero concept of Antonio Lopez Mazorra, my own paternal great grandfather, who remained in Spain while his son Manuel, as a young man, found himself literally stranded in America, then decided to stay. Manuel had a son, and his son had me. Other than for genetics’ sake, I can indeed say that my great grandfather had no impact on my life whatsoever — and, you know, I’d indeed be completely wrong!

A butterfly flaps its wings in Brazil (or Spain) and sets off a chain of events that ultimately spurs all manner of atmospheric happenings in far away places; or so the poetic notion goes.

Again, Antonio was the father of Manuel, who was the father of Dad, who was the father of me. Dad lived an utterly fascinating life, nudged along to no small degree by his father, whose life was nudged along by his, and on up the line. Any chronology that I might attempt in this letter could not come close to doing justice to his story (although I’ll share a few highlights below). Knowing this, and hoping to preserve Dad’s legacy for family generations to come, my boys and I spent a few weekends a few years ago videotaping Dad telling his story, start to finish — although he did mention a number of times since that he left a few things out; then he’d always pause, grin, and say, “but that may be a good thing.”

We hope that our video finds its way through time to those future family gatherings (oh how I’d love to hear Antonio’s story, in his own words, and be able to play it for my kids and grandkids). In which case, by the miracle of technology, the youngest in attendance will indeed have a concept of his or her family of the 20th and 21st centuries. But if for some reason the video doesn’t make it that far, if, for some reason, like me of my great great grandfather, Dad’s great grandchildren’s children will have zero concept of theirs, I absolutely know that they will have unknowingly benefited profoundly from the time he spent here on Earth.

Thinking back, Dad didn’t lecture his sons much, or preach (although he loved telling of his life experiences), but my how he led by example. He was the definition of hard work, responsibility, honesty and integrity; qualities honed into him at a very early age. 

He spent the first few years of his life on a train, in what was called an “outfit car”; grandpa worked for the railroad. At the tender age of 5 he escorted his 3-year-old sister across several states by train to see their maternal grandparents, then all the way back home (to wherever home happened to be stationed at the time) when their visit ended. He attended thirteen different schools in three different states in the third grade alone. In the summer of his 12th year he found himself abandoned (so to speak) in the woods with an ax, where he chopped down a cord of wood; his earnings sufficient to purchase his own school clothes for the coming semester. 

As you might imagine, such an upbringing can make for one unusually tough son of a gun!

As a young adult Dad became a star football player in the Navy and in college, as well as an undefeated amateur champion boxer. At the urging of others he was briefly under
professional contract, however, before his first fight he opted out and decided
his love was football, and that he’d somehow make a career on the field. Which
he did as a high school coach. 
I could go on and on, you have no idea!

Yes, by all appearances, Dad was the definition of tough. I recall fellow high school students asking me what it was like at home; his coaching persona had them utterly intimidated. What they didn’t know was that beneath what seemed like an impenetrably tough exterior, lived the most loving, caring and attentive husband and father a family could ever ask for.

Again, fathers and mothers impact sons and daughters, and on down the line. I consider myself exceedingly fortunate, and blessed, to be Len Mazorra’s son. For me, his youngest of four boys, Dad lived in full view. I witnessed, and to some degree (I hope to
a great degree!) absorbed his passion for life, his immeasurable degree of
toughness, and, yes, his immeasurable degree of loving softness, his loyalty to
the customs and the people he held dear, and, most of all, his unwavering love
for his family.

This awareness of the profound impact my parents had on me and mine, of how their nudging of me inspired my nudging of mine, illuminates the reality that the decisions we make in the now, our approach to life and all of its challenges, is all there for our kids and grandkids to see, and to absorb. 

Yes, you and I stand on the broad, hard-worked shoulders of our ancestors, while our descendants will stand on ours. The examples we set, the values we instill, will reflect in the lives of those we love long after we’re gone.
Dad, you were remarkable in so many ways! You showed your family how to live, how to love, how to be a husband, a father, a grandfather, a great grandfather, and, in
the end, my how you showed us how to die. There can be no doubt that the examples you set, those priceless lessons, will live on for generations to come. Thank you, so very much!

Love you Dad!

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