Bethel College student Jesse Garcia IV is headed off to the LA Film Studies Center, a collegiate adventure that probably would have delighted his late dad.
Minneapolis Police Department Sgt. Jesse Garcia III, who died July 30, 2015, wanted his son to have adventures, according to a touching card he gave him when Jesse graduated from high school in 2014: “You have completed the first step in life’s journey. Your mother and I are extremely proud of the man you have become. Use these years as a guide to your future. Be strong but tender. Hold your head high yet never forget where you came from. Love all people and what they have to offer. Work hard; it will define your legacy. Learn, learn and learn more. Know that men and women are different but want the same thing. See as much of the world as possible.”
Garcia wrote this note not knowing there was a cancer diagnosis in his future, according to Jesse IV’s mom, Sheri, who read it to me. I decided to catch up with JG4, because signs that he is a special human were evident in the last days of JG3’s life.
Q: So you’re not going to become a police officer?
A: No. I don’t know. My personality doesn’t really fit that.
Q: Do you take it personally when police are insulted?
A: I have more a warm place in my heart since my dad was a cop. I’ve got all his friends. I know what some of them go through, going behind the scenes with my dad, learning more about them; the tough situations they are put in sometimes. They are really under the spotlight.
Q: Who’s working a job in the film world that you want?
A: I guess I like editing. There are so many things within editing, music editing, working on the set where they’re filming something. That might be pretty cool. I’ll know more after my LA school [where he’ll be a junior this fall].
Q: I think your dad thought you were going to be an NHL player?
A: Yeah, that was the goal for a long time. If I could have any dream job right now it would be that, but it’s such a tall mountain for the players who actually make it there. It would be cool to work for an NHL team, doing the video. [Mom said he contacted the UCLA club hockey team to see if he could practice with them and the team said it was down a goalie.]
Q: How have you been coping with your dad being gone?
A: I’d say it’s been going a little easier. The first couple months were hard, then I adjusted to life. You get used to how things are. You can’t dwell on the past and be sad all the time. That’s not what he would have wanted.
Q: I found this the other day; he gave this miniature Minneapolis police badge to me.
A: Yeah, I’ve got one. He had like a whole bag of them.
Q: Do any of the things he said resonate in your memory?
A: More of his humor. The other day I was watching “Water Boy” with Adam Sandler. The famous line in that movie is the Adam Sandler character saying, “Momma said. …” Growing up, I would always say that with my dad — Mom said it’s not good to drive over 80 miles per hour. I knew it would get him annoyed and I thought it was funny and he’d say, “You sound like the Water Boy.” All these years I never knew what he was referring to until I saw the movie like a week ago, and it all connected.
Q: In his final months, was he able to talk to you much about the future?
A: Yeah. He was like, Make sure you have a relationship with Vienna [little sister] as she gets older. … Make sure you’re happy with what you’re doing. Part of him didn’t really want to talk about the future. That was almost like him accepting he wasn’t going to be here. We wanted him to write letters to Vienna that she could have when she is older, but he didn’t want to do that because that was like accepting defeat.
Q: How is baby Vienna, who’s 2 now?
A: She’s good. I haven’t seen her for awhile. Been busy with school and obviously they are pretty busy and they live far away, Eden Prairie. I’d like relations and stuff to heal with the families, down the road. I think tensions were high with Vienna’s mom and [some] of the family when [Dad died].
Q: Did you realize how your dad doted on you?
A: Yeah. Kind of everyone I met said, “I’ve heard a lot about you.”
C.J. can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and seen on Fox 9’s “Buzz.” E-mailers, please state a subject; “Hello” does not count.