On a Firm Foundation: Family, Sorrow, Joy, Legacy

On a Firm Foundation: Family, Sorrow, Joy, Legacy

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Mary Quilici Aumack

Executive Director
Catholic Community Foundation of Santa Clara County, aumack@cfoscc.org


It was one year ago that my mom and my nephew went to heaven. One was 90 and ready. One was 44, tragic. As a family we grieved, shared stories and yes, even laughed a bit.

Each left a strong legacy. For my mom it was faith, love of family, work ethic, deep and abiding adoration of my dad.

For my nephew it was formidable family love, athletic prowess, faith, impeccable lawn, crazy cute smile.

What binds us as family? What of this weaves its way through our legacy?

I think and write a lot about legacy. At the heart, it’s what remains; what reminds us of a person, informs and forms us because that person lived and was a part of our lives. It also helps carry us forward. If you’ve read my columns before, you know that my favorite reference to legacy is from the Greek for “ambassador.” Through my legacy, my beliefs and values are carried forward to other generations.

Formative in my life were my parents, siblings, Doug, Kacey, my extended family. We who call ourselves “Quilici Strong” are bolstered by each other, the living and the dead. It is up to us to keep it alive, pass it on, never stop talking about it.

It is not easy saying good-bye to ones we love. In some cases it’s almost unbearable. For me, it is made easier because of my unfailing belief in eternal life. Is my mom really dancing with my dad? Is my nephew kicking around a soccer ball? I have no idea but it sounds pretty cool so I’m going with it.

In the last three months we’ve welcomed two new family members, both girls, born in June and September. What will be the legacy we leave for these little ones? We are all being introduced to them, welcoming them into this crazy extended family. To them I am, “Grauntie Mary.” I am known for things in our family: faith, bread, pizza, thanksgiving, traditions, gathering.

As we seek to nurture Amaya and Marli and all the little ones of our family, we are bolstered by the memory and gift of my mom and Jason. We seek to be ambassadors of their beliefs and values, their smiles and hugs. In all of this, for me, is God. I am grateful.