BAKERSFIELD, Calif. — Modesto Lopez Bautista celebrated his 110th birthday this year, inspiring his great-grandson, Eddie Hernandez, to write an essay about his family’s history.
The eighth grader at Mountain View Middle School was so inspired by his experience that he decided to write an essay about his great-grandfather’s life and the journey that brought his family to Kern County.
“My great-grandfather Modesto was born on January 17, 1909 in San Juan Mixtepec, Oaxaca,” said Hernandez as he read his essay aloud.
Modesto called Mexico home until 2001 when he traveled with his daughter to the United States, making Bakersfield their home.
“He would have to work in the fields, growing vegetables mostly corn beans and pumpkin,” read Hernandez. “He harvested his entire life.”
As a centenarian, Modesto is one of the oldest people in Kern County.
“I’m happy for my great-grandfather and I’m glad I still have him around.” continued Hernandez.
Modesto speaks the indigenous language of Mixtec, a language that Eddie is still learning. Eddie’s father, Hector Hernandez, helps out as a translator.
While they continue to hold on to family traditions, Eddie says his great-grandfather continues to inspire him to do more in life. He says his great-grandfather never finished school, pushing him to get a good education.
“What i wanna do in my future is do something better in life, go to college, get a good job, get a career.” said Hernandez.
The 110-year old also shared the wisdom he's learned.
“It’s only Jesus. Jesus is the only one that blessed me, give for a lot of years.” said Modesto Lopez Bautista in Mixtec, with Hector Hernandez translating.
However, he jokes that he may have only lived so long because God forgot he was still here on earth.
“Probably he forgot about me, that I’m still alive.” said the 110-year-old.
As for eighth grader Eddie Hernandez, he says he wants to one day move back to Mexico and learn more about his family’s history.