A time for family

mom
Hello dear friends:
2013 has been a year that has tested me in ways I never had expected. I began the year by stating to those who know me from my volunteer activities and community activism, that this was, for me, the year of the family. It has been that, and it has been painful and difficult. My family has been my number one focus this year. I am not a religious person. I believe in the power and compassion of the human spirit. I believe in being the best person possible and doing unto others as you would have others do unto you. 

Sadly, too often public forums are used for negative dialogue and to launch personal and painful attacks even when you are down, it has happened. I will just consider the source and move forward.

I prefer to use this forum today, to honor and pay tribute to my mother, Haydee Fuentes Lopez who passed on Saturday November 16, 2013 at the age of 92.
It takes maturity to achieve clarity and appreciate what others have done for us and the part they played in our lives. This is the time for family, for rejoicing, for sharing and for caring. The following was my eulogy to my mom.

This one’s for you mom.
 
My mother:
She was beautiful. Her eyes were dazzling.
She was strong and feisty. Yes we were afraid of her. Even as grown women.
She was eccentric and baffling. She was frugal, or just plain cheap.
She was fiercely independent. She was incredibly stubborn.
 
She loved music and laughter.
She loved little children and animals.
She loved her home, her flowers and trees.
She loved Puerto Rico and the ocean.
 
She loved us but it was hard for her to express that love until recently.
She lived a good life with a loving husband, loving family, caring friends and neighbors.
 
She was never boring.
She was a protective mother who never let anyone take advantage of her daughters as we were growing up in the Bronx.
When those green eyes flashed with anger, it was time to run and hide.
She would never turn away family members. It seems we always had someone sleeping on the couch when we were living in a two bedroom walk up tenement in the Bronx.
She made the best Puerto Rican beans, Grandma Beans!
 
Over the last few years we tried, unsuccessfully,  to convince her that she could no longer live alone in Puerto Rico. So we took turns going to see her and taking care of her. We may not have been perfect daughters, but we were perfect when it came to caring for her.
 
As she grew older her eccentric habits and rules made us all crazy.
But those habits are now fond and funny memories.
I call them Mom’s Rules.
I want to leave you with some of them so that you can smile when you think about my mother, Haydee.
 
Mom’s Rules
Unplug every electrical appliance after use.
Turn off the lights and TV even if you are just running to the bathroom.
Lock every door, padlock, chain and window by 6 PM.
If it looks like it might rain, shut every louvre pane, there are about fifty of them you must crank, and it always looks like it might rain in Puerto Rico.
Then open them all a half hour later.
Don’t turn on any lights even it it’s pitch black.
Lift the toilet seat, yes, we are all female, but she wants the air to circulate in the bowl.
Do not throw anything away, ever!
That includes containers from take out food, plastic utensils, old papers, rubber bands, paper clips, diaper pins, invitations and announcements, bills, knick knacks, seat cushions, pillows, stuffed animals, broken cups or dishes that date back to 1970.
 
Do not throw away any leftovers, there is always a dog somewhere waiting for scraps or pigeons looking for bread or corn.
Her flock of pigeons had grown to about 50 and she fed them three times a day. They were like her children.
 
It is hard saying goodbye, but we had mom for 92 and a half years. And we have a lifetime of memories. Let’s celebrate her spirit, it will live forever.
Happy Holidays.
Ivette

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