Grandfather - Jose J. This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

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     Is my Guito a little strange? Of course heis. Guito has single-handedly scared away friends, girlfriends, andcoaches. He is vulgar. He is sloppy. He has earned the nickname“The Godfather” but he is still the most influentialsculptor of my life. Through his stories and life lessons, Guito hasbecome more than just “good old Guito.”

I rememberthe day Guito turned off the music of his long-dead mariachis andpianists, looked at me, and said, “What is wrong with you? Youlook sick or something.” He placed his hand on myforehead.

I casually answered, “Nothing, it’s justbeen a long day.” Then Guito’s fatherly advice gene - theone which always seems to activate when I do not want it to - goes off.

“Ronnie, when times were tough for me, I made sure I didwhat I needed to do and stuck it to everyone else.” He would thenrecount how he came to America with nothing but dreams, worked hard, andfinally retired in Dallas to be with his grandchildren. Although attimes repetitive, these stories have changed me.

Just bylistening to Guito’s stories and doing what he did, I made friendsand acted responsibly. On my way to school I would hear about thecountless hours in the steel factories with soul brothers who wouldcheat Guito out of his hard-earned money, yet befriend someone theyrespected. Emulating this noble hero from my Guito’s stories, Iwould make friends, but I would also count my pencils after each class.My classmates watched and commented that I was a “neatfreak,” but whenever they needed help on a project, they turned tome. On our way home from school, he typically complimented me on takinghis advice and further expounded on ways to get ahead. His ambition anddetermination, which helped him survive the dreaded steel factory, alsohelped me survive the terrors of elementary school.

To be Mexicanat my school was not easy. Whenever kids made fun of the Mexicans theysaw on TV, I would chime in, never letting them know who I was. I hid myheritage until one afternoon Guito let it slip to my friends. Needlessto say, I got in the car amid jeers. Later, I yelled at Guito because Ithought he had betrayed me. He just smiled, shook his finger at me, andtold me never to be ashamed of who I was.

When I arrived atschool the next day, my friends asked, “Are you reallyMexican?”

“You’re darn right I’m Mexican.And proud of it!” And now, instead of making fun of me, we kidabout my being ashamed as we enjoy plates of my grandmother’sbeans, mole sauce and rice.

One of the most important attributesis honesty, and Guito made certain I knew that.

“Ronnie, aman who is dishonest gets nowhere in life; he is the only one ultimatelyhurt by his lies,” he would preach. Every time I lied, Guito foundout and punished me, so I avoided lying to avoid punishment. But as Imatured, something else contributed to my attempts to tell the truth:Guito’s disappointment when I lied. He always reminded me thatlies could ruin my chances of becoming successful, both personally andprofessionally. Taking his advice, I have always told the truth, andalthough it might get me into trouble, my integrity and ability toremain a good student have improved dramatically.

He is now theone person I can rely on for straight advice. So when I say,“I’ve had a bad day,” I can always trust that Guitowill shape me to be ambitious, stand tall, tell the truth, and“stick it to those idiots.”

This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.






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