It’s time to return to my “normal” routine. Today marks a week that my Mamá died. Time has had such a different quality over the last 7 days…well, really over the last several weeks.
We held vigil for her. Singing at her bedside, praying, helping her Spirit fly free from the heaviness of this corporal reality.
There was a moment when we were singing and clapping and rejoicing in her life that I felt her Spirit. All at once the room had a lightness to it and more clearly than ever before I understood how little our bodies have to do with WHO and WHAT we are.
To have been gifted this feeling, this understanding by my Mamá??
Well, just one.
It felt like the most magickal-light-real-unbelievable-yet-how-can-I-deny-this feeling evah.
No conditions. No questions. No expectations. Just LIGHT and LOVE.
I had the privilege of eulogizing my Mamá at her service. With spouses, our immediate family numbers somewhere around 55. Blessed doesn’t even begin to describe how I felt (and continue to feel) as I typed out my thoughts. When I was very little, I remember wanting to be just like her. As I grew older, our relationship became more complicated and my desire to be like her waned. Writing her eulogy, my perspective shifted and a feeling of simpatico took root. Where once I felt a bit like an alien—not quite belonging—the similarities between not only my grandmother but also my mother brought a sense of comfort (and…sigh…a little pride).
Thank you to all The Hive’s clients for your support and patience during this time. It’s been an incredible blessing to be able to drop everything and be here with my family.
Here’s part of the eulogy I wrote for her. I hope it helps you see why we love her so much, and why I am so proud to be her nieta (granddaughter).
Welcome. My name is Melissa, one of Esther and Carlos’ nietas. On behalf of our family, thank you for honoring my grandmother’s life and sharing in her memory with us.
Throughout the last few weeks, we’ve shared so many stories about Mamá—remembering her deep faith, her unlimited capacity for joy and happiness. Thinking about all the memories it’s apparent that regardless of what specific incident, project, or business venture we described, just about anything she did can be directly linked to her FAITH and the God of miraculous love and acceptance at the center of that Faith.
In the New Testament, Jesus lifts up two of the commandments as the most important:
- Love the Lord God with all your heart, and with all your soul and with all your mind.
- Love your neighbor as yourself.
Looking back on Mamá’s life, it’s easy to see how her love of life and desire to be compassionate and kind to all those she encountered were a direct reflection of her efforts to live out those two commandments, in big and small ways.
Whenever she would go back to Puerto Rico she’d always take extra money so that she could go to the campo (the countryside, up in the mountains) sharing her blessings, bringing offerings of food and money to others less fortunate, hoping to ease their struggle.
Mamá always had time to listen to what was happening in the lives of her family, friends, and friends of her family. It would be impossible to count all the people Mamá helped through their difficult times, but it wasn’t only in hard times that she could be a shoulder to lean on. Mamá loved to celebrate even the tiniest of victories and was always ready to start a party in their tiny kitchen. Cooking, singing, AND dancing all at the same time.
Singing and dancing and laughing—that’s Mamá. She loved practical jokes and having fun. She used her body to bring emphasis in conversation; making funny faces, striking a pose. That kind of stuff wasn’t only for the privacy of the home. Oh no. Even going to the grocery store with her proved to be an exciting activity. Being the best kind of silly felt like a vocation with Mamá.
Mamá also had the ability to get folks organized-reeling them in with her passion. She might have been small in the physical sense, but her Spirit and momentum could not be contained.
She loved cockatiels and bred them, but she always had a favorite. Her little Charlie.
Charlie flew away one day. Mamá immediately started organizing the neighborhood and had everyone (it felt like the entire city of Lorain) looking for that little bird. A few days after he’d gone missing a woman in Amherst (about 10-15 miles away) responded to an ad Mamá had put in the paper. The woman needed to run an errand, but allowed my grandparents (total strangers) to stay at her house and try to coax Charlie into a cage. After just a little bit, Charlie flew right into Mamá’s hand. Not even a cockatiel could resist her.
Mamá was an entrepreneur—starting with the little food market on Pearl Rd that slowly grew into an ice cream shop and then a casual little pizza parlor. For many summers she organized and ran a food booth at The Ohio State Fair, making friends with the neighboring booth owners. And then finally owning and operating Midway Bridals by Esther where she did everything from cleaning the floors to creating the most magically beautiful wedding gown bustles. She loved being at the bridal shop, and specialized in helping larger sized women find the dress of their dreams and then made sure they looked amazing.
It’s important to note that these businesses were about more than just making money. Mamá was always striving to better herself and provide a model for her children and grandchildren. These businesses reflect her LOVE of life, her desire to squeeze every last drop out of each day. She didn’t just encourage us to strive for our dreams; she provided an example—an example of a woman who didn’t allow fear or self-doubt to keep her from living life. If God gave us this life, to be anything other than our best and most adventurous would be disrespecting this incredible gift, and Mama wasn’t about to do anything but honor that Great Commandment. Loving God meant living life with all her heart and mind and soul.
No matter how difficult things might be, there was so much HOPE in Mamá. A HOPE grounded in her faith, a faith centered around the power of LOVE, the ability of a Mother’s unconditional LOVE and God’s LOVE to overcome even the greatest sorrows.
Papa, please stand.
Will the 8 children please stand.
Will the 14 grandchildren please stand.
Will the great-grandchildren please stand.
Will the spouses please stand.
We are her love made manifest.
We are her legacy.
Thank you Mamá for living your life with us.
Thank you for sharing your heart.
Thank you for teaching us how to LOVE.