2009 will always be remembered in my family as the year we gained a son, grandson, great-grandson and nephew named Milo Samuel Manca. It will also be remembered for the loss of my sole remaining grandparent - Milo's namesake, Samuel Ortiz.
I won't go into all the specifics other than to say my grandfather lived a very full life. The last few years and the condition of his health by no means diminish the love, life and laughter he brought to this world.
He passed away at the age of 87 on September 4. He didn't meet Milo but saw his photo and very much wanted to meet him. We attended his funeral in Harlingen, Texas and took some photos around the old town which is about 30 minutes away from the Mexican border at the southern most tip of Texas. He grew up there, met my grandmother who lived a few miles from him through childhood and this is where he returned for his retirement after living and raising my mom and uncle in Indianapolis.
Harlingen is a special place. It's tropical and lush in the Rio Grande Valley. Texas has 5 climates and this is the most beautiful one. Maybe inspired by the green valley and plants that grow there, the town is filled with rich murals of local culture and traditions. We spent just a few hours and captured some to remember.
Milo also enjoyed his first beach walk in South Padre Island, which is a short drive east. There are so many good memories with my family in Harlingen driving the 27 hrs from Indianapolis.