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How My Abuelo's Legacy Lives On

My Late Abuelo and My Now-Husband Have the Same Name, and I Took It as a Sign

Image Source: Cessie Cerrato

My maternal grandfather passed away on Friday, May 29, 2015. I met my now-husband, Manny, the following Thursday, June 4, when we were paired to walk down the aisle together at our friend's wedding. Manny's last name is Cabrera — same as my grandfather, who was Reemberto Cabrera.

Now that we are married, I carry the same last name as my grandfather (my mother's maiden name), and I think it's abuelo's way of making sure I know he had something to do with this. My grandma jokes that my grandfather sent him to me. I like to believe that's true.

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Image Source: Cessie Cerrato

Before my abuelo passed, I sat on his lap on his recliner at home, feeling like my 6-year-old self, and knowing it would likely be the last time. Like many traditional Hispanic men, he was so concerned about leaving this earth without seeing me with "a good man."

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In no rush to settle for the sake of settling, I told him I would marry someone when I found a guy just like him — a hard worker who put his family first, who is selfless, loving, and a true gentleman. I used to joke with him and say, "Send me a man like you," and he joked back that men like him rarely existed anymore.

Anyone who knew my grandfather understood that finding a solid man like him was like finding a needle in a haystack.

Image Source: Cessie Cerrato

That's why having my grandfather's memory present on our wedding day was vital to me. Manny purchased my ring from the same diamond dealer my grandfather used to work with as a jeweler. The man who created my ring was a longtime family friend.

A picture of my grandfather hung on my bouquet, which featured orchids — my grandfather's favorite flower. My bouquet also contained carefully placed butterflies — a symbol of emergence and constant transformation — which I had seen the day after he passed. These were tied to my bouquet using fabric from a blue shirt that belonged to my abuelo, some of which I had also sewn onto my dress as my something blue.

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Image Source: Miguel Ocque Photography

I wore my childhood azabache, which my grandfather had gifted me as a baby, inside my dress for protection.

I felt my abuelo's presence at the wedding, and I know he was smiling along with me. Now I hope to be able to carry the Cabrera legacy, the unity of our new blended family, and the bond my husband and I share for years to come by keeping our culture alive and creatively making it our own as we span generations, always remembering those who came before us.

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