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My Grandmother’s Legacy


Marie Galetto-Dugoni
Marketing & Grants Program Manager,
Catholic Community Foundation of Santa Clara County

My grandmother Teresa Machado was a planner. She loved organizing events and hosting people in her home. When my mom went to her high school Senior Ball, my grandma not only made a multi-course dinner for my mom and her friends before the dance, but she also got up at 11 p.m. to make midnight snacks for everyone when they returned. Once my grandpa retired, she planned trips all over the United States with him. And when they got home, she made the photos into slides and meticulously documented what was in each picture. 

I got married last November. My grandma’s health had been declining for some time, but she decided (despite my protests) that she would throw me a bridal shower. She made all the arrangements, but two days before she was admitted to the hospital. When it became clear that she would be unable to attend the shower, she insisted that we have it without her. She had written detailed instructions in case she was unable to attend. She laid out the menu, ordered the cake, organized the decorations and told us exactly how many balloons to place at the cake table. She had thought of everything. 

My grandma was determined to make it to my wedding. I don’t think anything would have stopped her from being there, especially since I wore the same dress that she wore on her wedding day over 60 years earlier. She had wisely planned ahead by storing the dress in a cedar chest so that if her daughter – and then her granddaughter – wanted to wear the dress, it would be in pristine condition. It was a true honor to wear her dress and have her in attendance at our wedding.

This January, my grandma passed away. As in life, she had planned for what would happen after her passing. She picked out and paid for her plot and headstone. She gave specific instructions for the type of Funeral Mass she wanted, down to the priest, readings, songs and pall bearers. She had an estate plan so that there would be no question about what happens with her house and other assets. Through her thoughtful plans, she left us the gift of peace as her legacy.

The experience of losing my grandma drove home the value of having a detailed estate plan. The Catholic Community Foundation of Santa Clara County hosts Estate Planning Seminars at parishes to highlight the importance of planning ahead. One of the biggest advantages of having an estate plan is relieving your family of the stress and cost of going through probate court. It’s also easier for people to comply with your wishes if they know them. Some people wish to remember their parish or other organization they love with a gift in their estate plan. No matter the amount, a charitable legacy gift is an expression of our values and a wonderful act of stewardship.

If you are interested in making a charitable gift part of your estate plan or would like the Foundation to present about estate planning and planned giving, please contact us at (408) 995-5219 or info@cfoscc.org.