It's not all bad

Life in the ‘Lope isn’t all bad.

On Saturday, The Bee ran this story about a boy trying to raise funds for his recently-deceased father’s funeral:

Eddie Mendez Jr. died a week ago with his 15-year-old son giving him CPR as his wife held the phone and called out the instructions from a 911 operator.

The 38-year-old Rio Linda tree trimmer was a poor man, which became all too clear by the order of things in the days after he inexplicably stopped breathing. […]

Today is the car wash. That’s how the Mendez family hopes to pay for everything.

Nicholas Mendez, the son who tried to keep his father alive with chest compressions and mouth-to-mouth resuscitation, is the force behind the event.
The car wash begins at 9 a.m. in the parking lot of Original Granite’s restaurant, 6749 Rio Linda Blvd., in Rio Linda.

“I’m going to look at it like it’s helping my family out. I wanted to have a good funeral for my dad,” Nick Mendez said. “He didn’t want to be cremated. I really respect him and love him and I want to give him what he wanted. ”

The Mendez family borrowed from relatives and “everybody we can think of” to pay for the funeral, said Dawn Mendez, Eddie’s wife.

She is intent on paying everyone back. […]

Yesterday, they ran a followup story about the overwhelming response from the community:

By the time 15-year-old Nicholas Mendez arrived with pails and soap to begin washing cars Saturday morning, the line of well-wishers was stretching down Rio Linda Boulevard.

All day long they kept coming, forming a steady stream of minivans and pickups and luxury cars, each one touched by the story of the boy who tried to resuscitate his dying father and who is now trying to pay for his funeral.

“It’s just not right,” said Jerry Bergen, who lives in Fair Oaks but steered his Mercedes-Benz to Rio Linda to donate his Saturday golf winnings to the Mendez family. “This kid probably hasn’t had many breaks in his life to begin with.” […]

The modest funeral on Friday cost $6,000, far more than the tree trimmer’s family could afford. They borrowed what they could from friends and acquaintances. […]

When family members arrived at 9 a.m. to begin washing cars, they saw a line of waiting clients and a stranger who handed them a fistful of donations she had collected from people who had already come and gone.

“People washed their own cars and gave us donations,” said an incredulous Dawn Mendez, Eddie’s widow.

Many of the donors didn’t bother with the car wash, but wound their way through the crowd to tuck a $20 into Nick’s hand. They recognized him, and his mop of blond hair, from the newspaper photograph. Many of them gave him a hug and handshake, too.

“One lady came up to me, and she was crying on my shoulder,” said Kaitlyn Mendez, 12, Eddie’s daughter.

By the time Mark Granite arrived at 10 a.m. to open his Original Granite hamburger stand, there were about 40 cars waiting to be scrubbed in his parking lot.

“It shows there are good people,” he said. “Some people gave $100 or $200 without even washing the car.” […]

A stranger approached the boy before noon with an envelope.

“He said, ‘Count it after I leave. I hope it helps,’ ” Sublett said. It contained about $3,700 in cash.

A group of firefighters from Rio Linda pulled up on an engine with a $1,000 donation. Mel Rapton, a Honda dealer, drove up with a check for $500.

A man from the Pomo Indians tribe brought a $5,000 donation.

James Thompson came before noon with his children to help wash.

He didn’t know the Mendez family but was moved by their plight.

“It wasn’t my payroll weekend, so I didn’t have money to give, but I figured I could help out,” said Thompson, who spent more than five hours on the job, proud that his 8- and 14-year-old daughters refused to stop washing cars and go home.

As much as I rag on Antelope (stolen cars, gun shots, the constant presence of police helicopters), it’s not that bad of a place.  The people we’ve met are all extremely friendly, and reading about an event like this confirms that they have good hearts.

What a great kid.  I wish him the best of luck.

(I know that it’s technically not Antelope that the story is talking about, but it’s close enough.)