Saturday, August 24, 2013


This is my eulogy for my mom:

So it's hard to put 36 years of a relationship into a few minutes, and it may be more than a few minutes, but I'll try. The truth is that my mom's relationship with me was formed way before my birth, because how can you raise a child and impart things unto them unless you have a life history before that child is born. My mom was born in 1949 in Santurce, Puerto Rico to her parents Israel and Edmelinda. They were with each other, then they divorced, then years later got back together, then divorced. Both parents got married to others, then got divorced, then married others. My mom always lived with her mom and her sister Enilda through this. My mother would always say she had a hard childhood, especially any time we ever expressed how hard our life was living under our parent’s roof. She was put into many situations and had to take on burdens and responsibilities not meant for a child. She had to grow up early, act like an adult, and be a rock to people who were adults and could arguably be considered children in with their emotions and actions.
 Most rocks are hard, at least their outer layer. My mom grew into adulthood to be tough and world hardened, but always compassionate and deeply loving inside. In her twenties, she began working in San Juan while living and taking care of her mom who was very controlling. The story goes one day she was cruising the strip her cousins, the area of San Juan where sailors hang out. That day everyone hooked up with a crew a sailors on leave, my mom connected with a guy from Chicago. They hung out for three days. He went back to Chicago, they wrote letters back and forth for a few months, and then my dad popped the question, “Will you marry me?
What was my mom to do, she was taking care of her mom, she had lived her whole life in Puerto Rico,  her life was there. She knew her mom would not let her go, so she went to her loving abuela, Paquita, who gave her the advice that would set in motion her family," If you don't leave now, you will never leave." So, my mom took the chance, left everything she knew behind, and came to
Chicago, to marry essentially, a stranger, I mean, how can you know someone through three days and a couple letters, but she did.  By the way, my dad didn't tell his parents that he was thinking of
marriage; I think he was already getting set up into some arranged marriage by his parents. In the first days of her arrival my dad introduce my mom to his Eastern European parents, they were not too happy that he brought home a Puerto Rican woman, and I’m being nice with my version of the story, they predicted that the marriage would fail. Nice introduction to this new life. My dad wanted to chicken out and just see where the relationship went. But my mom looked him dead in the eye and
said, "I left everything for you, I'm not going back with egg on my face, we are getting married" and so they went to down city hall, my aunt and her husband flew in to serve as witnesses, and they got married June 14th, 1975.
             My mom's statement could have been perceived as a threat, no doubt knowing my mom it may have been, but I choose to look at it as the defining moment that thrust this family into being. A defining decision moment between two people that signaled how she would fight tooth and nail to will a family together, that family was number 1, and like a bulldog never let her family go. Her and my dad forged their bond early on through persistence, as husband in wife through fights, swearing,
doggedly working through issues such as vastly different backgrounds, moral and cultural.
Sometimes you commit to something and fall in love later, I'm not embarrassed and neither was she
to say that, it worked for them, my dad was deeply committed to my mom and loved her madly. My mom loved him with an unfiltered and tough love too. They were together 38 years and their love and commitment has inspired me and created the convictions I have about love, marriage, fidelity, and what it means to have a true life partner.
           Falling in love may have come later for their relationship, but my mom gave pure and received the  pure love that she desired from her children, all three. I am the firstborn of all of Elfrida and Bill's kids. My mom loved me til the day she did. An abiding love that was deep in soul. My mother always protected me and fought on behalf of me, she believed in me and saw things in me I couldn't believe about myself as a youth. She showed me off and was proud of my achievements. She put a lot of stock into who I would be in the future and always called me a her good boy; I think all of her aspirations and expectations for me growing up were meant as someone who would be different than all the men who had hurt her in her life. I believed her and my life is a testament to trying to give her
that gift and her dream fulfilled. She could convince a mountain to move, and in my love for her I
wanted to live up to and climb beyond her expectations. As hard as she could be, as rough as her exterior, mannerisms, or words could be, she was a romantic, she fought for the underdog, she carried the weight of her family, she wanted everyone to be the person God created them to be regardless of the what the world shaped them to be, she loved giving gifts, she was very political, but most importantly she loved God unabashedly. She couldn't move the mountains that life put in front of without that simple faith like a mustard seed. I will miss this woman. I love you mom and will forever carry you and your legacy in my character and my heart.

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