View Mobile Site

A beautiful root

Text Size: Small Large Medium
A beautiful root

Tony, Robert, and Janet Teicheira.

Photo contributed/


POSTED February 12, 2014 11:53 p.m.

It is with a heavy heart that I write this week’s column. The unexpected loss of family member Janet Teicheira on Friday morning has left us in a state of mourning and disbelief. Janet is my father’s first-cousin; they were a few months apart in age. That fact alone made her much more an aunt than a cousin. Being part of a large Portuguese family, you are taught generational respect at an early age. The Teicheiras of my dad’s generation (the third in Manteca are more like aunts and uncles and the generation above them were revered as grandparents. The “next” generation in a Portuguese family knows to stay in line. Oh, you can goof around and get your digs in now and then, but get out of line and you will be tuned up quick. Respect.

Janet always stood out in my mind as a kid. People that knew her will speak of her generosity, her selflessness, her heart. But as a kid, I didn’t fully understand those qualities. I did however take notice of one fact – Janet was cool! Not just in the “didn’t tell dad if she caught me cursing” way, but straight up cool. Fonzie cool. Portuguese culture is very “old school,” men playing cards and women in the kitchen. Janet broke the mold, all while remaining part of it. She drove a white Corvette with T-tops and attended Raiders and A’s games on the regular, but not before attending Sunday Mass. She knew sports, players and stats, and was always approachable. It was mind-blowing stuff to an 8-year-old that wore a Stabler jersey every fourth day.

Janet never had children, but doted upon the younger generation’s kids as if they were her own. Going on an excursion/trip with her was a rite of passage that many of us “next generation” got to be part of. When I was 11, we went to a football game in Oakland. Nope, not the Raiders. It was to see the Oakland Invaders of the short-lived USFL. We took the Vette, so for all I cared we could’ve been heading to Winter Gym to watch Donkey Basketball. We were cruising in the Vette! She knew people when we arrived, so it made me feel like I was with a celebrity. At one point she recognized Raider tight end Raymond Chester walking through the parking lot – I have no clue how – and had me get his autograph. (My mom still has it.) It didn’t matter that we lost, because my best memory was driving over the Bay Bridge, and her amazing snickering laugh, as I waved to people like we were in a parade.

My great-grandparents, Joseph and Mary Teicheira, planted their roots in this town 90 years ago. My family has been through tragedy before; we have seen roots that have been cut short. Janet’s root runs right through the center of our family orchard, and it didn’t just absorb as it grew, it sought out others to make them stronger by connecting. All the family roots connect, but in a family our size, they don’t all have direct contact. I’d guess if we did a little digging, we’d find more direct and strong connections to Janet’s root than we would all the others. This 41-year-old sapling thanks you for that, as do the shade providers of old.

I’m writing this on Tuesday night. We will lay her to rest on Thursday morning. I have received several messages in regards to Janet’s passing, and have enjoyed the stories shared. Please keep them coming, it is a wonderful way to connect, and gives grieving family members a moment of humanity – and at times levity. As a fourth generation Teicheira from Manteca, I want to make sure 30 years from now, when a fifth or sixth generation sees a picture of Janet, and asks “who is that?” I can answer: “That’s your cousin/aunt Janet. She was the most generous, selfless person and was also super cool. This one time she...”

I saw Janet at last Wednesday’s MRPS Hall meeting. Mid-meeting, I got up for a snack and she called me to her front row seat. “Hey, I’m really liking that column you’re doing,” she said. I answered with a “duh.” In classic Teicheira style, she returned with “Pffft, just keep it going,” shaking her head with a laugh and giving me a high-five. It was our last talk.

We’ll all try to keep it going without you. Thanks for showing us how easy it is to be a wonderful person.

R.I.P. Janet

There is nothing that provides comfort like knowing your family will always be there, both figuratively and literally. Janet not only felt this comfort, but was a huge provider of it.

 

Commenting is not available.

Commenting not available.

Please wait ...