A Te Fuiste Mama
Our mother, Honora, has gone from us and our hearts are broken. We thought you would live forever. We were almost right. 100 years and 171 days. Delivered by a midwife, born in a humble adobe house and newspapers carried no notice. Unforeseen greatness.
In a time of instant media stars followed by hundreds of thousands, how special that a heroine to so many was an anonymous woman who never sought attention. Usually I am a confident wordsmith, I have struggled to write this. My son, Miguel, told that it is because the genre for crafting an obituary is a terrible form to use when writing about the genius of being a Saint. My mother was a Saint.
As her daughter and sons, we had but one rule. Where Mama was the DMZ. Whatever petty thoughts, anger toward another person you carried was to be left at the door. The Genius of Honora Romero was how undifficult it was for all to in her presence to want to be the better version of themselves. She emanated goodness. We all felt it. It should be said how Mama loved to laugh, especially at fractured English/Spanglish jokes. Mama knew laughter was the doctor within.
When my brother, Wilfred, was killed I knew I had to say something. After all, I’m a writer. I picked up a book that had been there for months, untouched and leafed through it. I found this thought about loss: “You have to learn from the gift of it.” That made me angry. “Gift?! How stupid.”
I read more. “If we don’t learn or find lessons from such a terrible expenditure of pain, then loss has been for nothing.“ I’m a warrior who has experienced a lot of loss, but when it comes to your losing Mama, we’re all amateurs.
You have to be born in a certain era to become a Saint. There has to be testing and turmoil. My mother's life was never easy. Which is why she considered Little Sisters of the Poor a branch office to heaven. It was more than just care it was love. We are grateful to all at Little Sisters.
What lessons did Mama teach me?
1. To always tell the stories. Mama kept people alive others had long forgotten. Common men and women buried in unmarked graves, whose footsteps never left a mark or thoughts were never recorded. She told me about Mano Miguelito, my son Miguel's namesake. This man would climb Monte Blanca everyday leading a burro. There he would collect firewood which he would sell for pennies. Every evening my grandmother, Enafelia would charge the children with waiting for him so as to offer him dinner. Miguelito would always refuse and then say only if he could offer kindling for the fire. It was their ritual. Only on Sunday did he not work. On Sunday he sat in a back pew wearing his best old patched coveralls and placed a dime in the collection box. It was all he had. My Tio, Mike Trujillo, was named for him and in turn I named Miguel after him.
2. Mama taught me not to demand redemption before forgiving. She never held a grudge.
When you lose an elder a library is lost. Our Mama was a Library of Congress. If you attend my mother's viewing and wake you will see a glowing newspaper column I wrote about Mama which was placed in the Congressional Record. It was still not good enough. That's okay because we all have a Nora Romero story. Tell it.
We will wish for you always, Mama. We will wish for you and we will find you when our own good deeds surprise us and honor your legacy.
Estas con Dios.
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