Our beloved mother, grandmother, and friend Esther Perez left this world and onto the great adventure of life the day before yesterday. Less than two months ago I visited and stayed with mom, in her Miami home for three weeks. Almost every morning shortly after waking, I hear laughter, usually about the most insignificant of thing or events. Her live-in caretaker Maya was like an Angel sent from heaven at just the right time. My favorite quote, “If Maya is happy, then Mother is happy”, became her siblings mantra. In three weeks a handicap ramp to wheel her out was built, several raised garden planters established and planted along with a chicken coop and hens with the future potential of laying eggs. Sometimes crying or laughter may be the only options for an 86 year. Mother choose wisely in laughing because it always made her feel better. She also chose wisely in finding Maya on her own.
If you give someone your time, you are giving them a portion of your life. The greatest gift you can always give a relative or an elderly person is your time. Today, we close the window of life with mom and open the window of our future life without our mother, grandmother and friend.
If you know my younger sister and two younger brothers, then you know a big part of who and what my mother Esther was all about. Esther was born in 1932, in a foreign land, yet only 90 miles away by sea. My father, her first and only husband was born in 1918. It was almost as if she had a chance to enjoy two separate families based on her siblings ages. Son 62, daughter 60 both in Havana and a son 51 and 38 years of age born in Miami.
Linked to her 87-year longevity is the strength of her family and social life. Her grandchildren almost always within a walls separation played a huge role in her well-being. She was not a perfectionist or what you would call an educated woman however, that woman could butcher a hog, chicken or duck; make fire without a match or paint her own home. Most of her life she cared for her children or grandchildren, always created a clean, safe, and comfortable home. Anyone visiting always, never left without a drink or empty stomach.
If the good lord would’ve only granted her another 50 years of life; she could’ve possibly learned enough English to communicate with others, bilingually challenged visitors. At around the age of 8,9 or 10 my mom tells me that today I am going with my father to Miami Beeeech”. Father and I board the 7th Avenue and 36th Street bus to Miami Beach arriving around thirty minutes later to a law office building in Miami Beach. Upon exiting the elevator my feet suddenly slip this way and that way; I kneel and feel inches tall thick and luxurious shag carpeting. My first time stepping in a carpeted room. It suddenly becomes obvious to me that I am the only bilingual one in this group of educated men; my task at hand, to translate a real estate contract for the purchase of our first apartment building and future home.
Perhaps in her past life she played baseball. Almost with pin point precision a shoe lands squarely on the side of my head. Weeks earlier I was her most trusted family translator. Today I did something like break this or that; make my sister cry, piss her off or was just plain lazy or did not move fast enough. Not even a zig zag course away from her helped. If you escaped the first shoe better duck fast; the second was soon locked and loaded and shortly behind.
In her 70’s an elderly neighbor one day shares with me that one morning he looks out his window and sees mother staring at her duplex. A short while later she returns with paint bucket, roller and brush in hand. He watches with amazement at this elderly woman in her “bata” paint the entire side of this two unit duplex. A “bata” is the most simplest of house dresses that she routinely could be found wearing but, only around the household. Something you could easily picture your “abuela” in.
He continues to tell me that in the early afternoon it appears as if your mother returns for round two. This time he thinks she is just going to put the final finishing touches on her paint job. Again, she stares at her duplex. He thinks she is admiring her work but, she is not pleased with her new duplex color choice. Shockingly to him but not to any of her siblings he tells me she starts to repaint the entire building in a new color. This woman could be found in the encyclopedia of life under the word stubborn.
My mom could also be the biggest gossip in the world. Give her just one shred of information and it will make the rounds from sibling to granddaughter to aunt to friend and possibly back around again. She always knows what is going on and is the biggest conspirator that I know. This woman can also be the most short-tempered and stubborn woman you’ll ever meet. If my mom does not like something or someone she will not immediately tell you. Neither one of her four siblings were always her favorite. For whatever reason but, mostly limited to her siblings chose of spouses we have all disappointed her, in her life, at one point or another. What she would say now that she is most proud of is her ten grandchildren.
We will not always remember what you said to us but, we will always remember how special you made us all feel. Thank you and may god continue to smile on you, always. We knew this day would one day come. And in her own way she even made her passing easy for all of us.
We will remember you always.