The first time I met my (then) future father-in-law, I had only been home from my mission for two weeks. I went to Peru to "court" my future husband. As soon as I met Alberto, I could feel his amazing warmth and love. I knew I needed to be a part of his family when he sat with me about a week later and told me that he and his wife had been raising his son from very small to be a great husband. He told me he felt like I would be a good wife for that son.
He taught both of his sons well. He never let a moment go by without teaching them something.
Alberto contracted polio when he was only a year old. He never walked. He spent nearly his entire life in a wheelchair. But he never let that limit him in any way. He wasn't resentful about it. He was one of the most cheerful people I've ever had the pleasure to meet. When Lucia was so close to walking while we were there he would always say, "She's going to beat me at walking!"
He never called me his daughter-in-law. He always called me his daughter. He told me he had always wanted a daughter and now he had one.
I knew I loved this man when he took my side on any argument Diego and I ever had.
At our wedding reception in Peru while Diego danced with his mom, I grabbed Alberto by the hands and we glided across the dance floor.
You could not have seen a happier grandpa when Lucia and I went to Peru in April. He put her on his lap and wheeled his chair up and down the street telling everyone, "This is my granddaughter!" "My granddaughter is here visiting me!"
He asked me to pick out some movies for Lucia that he could buy. He bought her Frozen. We sat down to watch it, Lucia, Alberto, Sonia, and I. But Sonia and Lucia both fell asleep about half way through the first song and Alberto and I stayed up watching it together.
When Elsa is little and her father is trying to hide her powers, Alberto said, "That is just like people who are really smart! So many times they hide it instead of letting their abilities grow."
He was always analyzing everything and finding deeper meaning. But he had such a light heart and happy spirit. He laughed heartily throughout the movie.
He loved music. He was always singing. Whenever we'd talk to him on Skype he would start a huayno beat to make Lucia laugh. Dung dugga dung dugga dung. I can hear his voice and see Lucia's smile.
One night while I was in Peru the last time I got really depressed. I felt so guilty that Diego's life had changed so dramatically. I felt awful that he was far away from his friends and family and that it was my fault. The next day when I talked to Alberto about it he kindly said, "Diego knew what he was doing when he married you. When he chose to love you, he knew he would be giving up a lot." He knew exactly what to say to sooth my sorrowing heart.
He was friends with everyone he met. He told me that he loved the song "Un Millon de Amigos" (A Million Friends) by Roberto Carlos because that was his goal in life, too. He was a friend to everyone he met, and even those he hadn't met. Every time we spoke on Skype he would ask me how my mom and dad were doing. He always wanted to know what was going on in their lives and how they were.
He will be sorely missed, but the greatest consolation is knowing that he is home with his Father in Heaven. He was one of the most faithful men I have ever met. His testimony of His Savior Jesus Christ was incredible. He served faithfully to the end.
Life will not be the same without him. But he was an amazing comforter. I know if he were here he'd be saying, "Hannah, don't cry. Don't cry hija, everything will be okay." And I know it will be. I know that families can be eternal and that we will be with Alberto again sooner than we know it.
Te amo mi querido suegro. Gracias por tratarme siempre como tu hija. Gracias por enseñarme, por amarme y por siempre aceptarme tal y como soy.