By: Josh Aranda

Last week I learned, or rather was reminded of, the true origin and essence of Mission Matters Group. For the last 9 years, my dad, brother and I, co-founders of MMG, operated in a way that presumed our core values and founding goals for Mission Matters Group stemmed from something within us; something we were able to contrive from within us, shared values and experiences, all without naming a true origin.  Last week I learned the only reason it was within us was due to a common factor: my grandfather. 

On March 5th, 2020, one of the greatest men I ever knew, and one of my heroes, breathed his last breath, leaving this world. I can honestly say, he is the reason Mission Matters Group exists, the reason it has the core values it has, and why it is what it is today. It was because of what he instilled in us. 

He was the patriarch of our family. He and my grandmother always stood larger than life. They are of a generation that is much needed in today’s society. Chuck Aranda is the salt of the earth and all that is good in this world. He was chivalrous, fair, hard-working and loving. My goodness was he loving. 

I was blessed to spend the final two days by my grandfather’s side in the hospital. I was accompanied by my grandmother, my 19-month-old son, my parents, my siblings, their sons and daughters, all of my aunts, uncles, and cousins. We were all there for him. He meant the world to each and every one of us. It was an honor for us to be in the room with him when he left this world.

Over those days in the hospital, each family member shared the countless memories of Grandpa being there for us. He traveled thousands of miles to show up for everything. It was the least we could do to be present for his final moments.

I have never experienced anything more moving than hearing and being present for the last breath of a human being, let alone the last breath of my hero. It rocks you to your core. You seek solace in knowing he was with loved ones when he passed. This moment was flooded with countless emotions. Coupled with sorrow, I recognized a new increase in responsibility. 

It is now the responsibility of the loved ones who remain, to uphold all we learned from this human being. The realization hits that, this man, your lifelong teacher, Grandpa, will no longer be in person to teach the lesson, correct a behavior, encourage progress or support you when you fall short. You hope that the lessons he taught remain deeply rooted. 

For two days, I was surrounded by my entire extended family as we waited for what seemed to be an inevitable passing. Sitting in the waiting room and around his bedside, I listened intently to stories about him to extract every lesson he taught us. It was in those stories, from every single family member, I realized the origin of so much in my life. It was clear how this man’s life spawned the creation of MMG’s core values: God Given Purpose, Family First, Highly Authentic, Compassion for All People, and Relentless Mental Discipline. This man taught me, and the other founders of MMG, so many things. He gave us the tools to honor these core values in all that we do.  

God Given Purpose and Family First
It is hard to separate these two when I look at my grandfather’s life. He taught us first things first and the first things are always your relationship with God and then the relationship with your spouse. He was devout in his faith. It was amazing spending Sundays with my grandparents because the Sabbath was protected with heartfelt fervor. It was sacred and honored. He didn’t have to preach, he lived it. Grandpa’s biggest calling was to honor and take care of his family. He taught us how to adore your spouse. He loved her with all he had. In turn, he taught us the gold standard of marriage. Love is a verb and a noun and he helped us make sure to recognize the distinction between the two. There was never a moment that I didn’t witness him loving my grandmother, my dad, my siblings, my cousins or me. He was amazing at it. His love for us and how he showed it was his purpose. 

He taught us family is everything. Attend everything you can; baptisms, soccer games, dance recitals, graduations, awards ceremonies, moving houses, birthday parties – anything that is important to family. Do everything you can to show a person you care about them by just showing up. Always show up for family. The way he loved his family was rooted in his faith. His model of love came from above. My family has faith because of the faith he and my grandmother have.  

Compassion for all People
My grandfather never met a stranger. He taught us there are no strangers. He always welcomed others– all people, all colors, all genders, all religions–with open arms and a warm embrace. My grandparents opened their doors to everyone. They hosted foreign exchange students from all corners of the globe. In addition to providing room and board to these students, they provided them a family while they were away from theirs. 

His concept of family was rooted in compassion for others. Knowing we all need love from one another, he stood to be that force in someone’s life if they needed it. He always had an abundance of compassion for people. He had a way of looking into your heart with his beautiful blue eyes. Without words, he told you he cared for you and he would be there for you if you needed him. It didn’t matter who you were.  

I remember the first time he met my wife. Without knowing anything about her, he gave her a hug. Not a quick hug, a deliberate hug. One that pulls the person in close with a slight squeeze. As they separated from the hug, he paused and gave her a kiss on the cheek, then looked in her eyes and said, “It’s very nice to meet you.” I will never forget it. I knew in that moment; he would do anything for my future wife.    

Relentless Discipline
This man could work. He taught us how to work with our hands. He taught us how to work with our hearts. He taught us how to work hard.  

He taught us if it is worth doing, it is worth doing well. We often referred to the way my grandfather spoke as “Disney cussing”. He would look at something built or done unsatisfactorily, and he would say, “What kind of Mickey Mouse job is this?” We would laugh every time, but we knew inside the seriousness of the lesson. We could do better.  

He had a way of drawing the best out of you because he held himself to an incredibly high standard. He instilled a conviction of doing better all the time. Discipline was foundational in all he did; how he woke up, how he prepared for construction jobs, how he planned his life around family and being there for others. We always knew what priority was for Grandpa. Discipline was a form of respect for him. If we misbehaved, we knew. He taught us how our actions reflect on ourselves and our family. If we allow ourselves to have a disconnect in what we say, what we do and how we think, we allow mediocrity to creep into our lives. This was unacceptable to him. He held us, and himself, to a higher standard all the time. 

Highly Authentic
You always knew where you stood with Grandpa. He spoke clearly and plainly about the things he believed are right and good. He had such a gift speaking in this way that even if he called you out for something, or disagreed with what you were doing, you knew he loved you nonetheless. As tough and disciplined of a man as he was, he was willing to show his tender side. There is nothing that would make him weep more than witnessing someone go through pain. He wore it on his sleeve. He was tough when he needed to be, but in the very next moment, he was tender and warm. There were no facades, no acting in a different way in front of different people. Chuck Aranda was himself all of the time and he was respected, loved, and revered for it.  

Leaving the hospital, and having this realization of MMG’s origin, I realized I never got the chance to specifically say thank you to my grandfather for his life’s lessons that became the basis for MMG. I will attempt to express my gratitude here:

Dearest Grandpa, 
I love you more than you could ever know. I admire you more than you could ever know.  I thank you on behalf of the MMG family and our clients, for it is due to how you lived your life that MMG had the basis for its values. Your life is a legacy that will not be forgotten. I will work relentlessly to ensure your example is honored. Your spirit will be represented in all that we do. There will be no “Mickey Mouse jobs” in the work we perform on behalf of our clients. There will be no stranger. MMG’s family will expand with every person we are able to serve. We will strive to never hesitate to do the right thing, always, regardless of consequence. We will admit when we fall short of the right thing. It will most likely happen, but you always taught us to own our mistakes. We will own them, learn from them, and be better the next day.  

There have been many moments over the last week since your passing that I have been scared. Scared to not be the man that you know I can be. Scared to not have your guidance. Scared to not have you near. I quickly overcome those moments because I know you are with me. I know your spirit lives on in each one of the members you have left behind. Your spirit is in the work that each one of us has chosen to pursue. You are the best man I have ever known. You will always be my hero. My vocation at MMG is dedicated to you.   

With gratitude, love, and respect, 
Your grandson,