National Comadres Newsletter #10 (March 2021)
While I was thinking of Women’s Month, my mind went to this memory. As a child, I was walking from the pigpen and rabbit cages through a dirt trail barefoot surrounded by ankle-tall green grass and tropical trees, and I could smell the delicious aroma of Puerto Rican cooking begging me to come and eat. This was on the Big Island of Hawaii in the early ’60s and it is a memory forever seared into my mind. No doubt the food was enticing but greater than that, was my full-figured grandmother with a Taino semblance that would greet me with a smile and a sparkling gold tooth, her laughter and tight embrace. Luisa Serrano Carvalho Figueroa’s house was known as the house in the neighborhood that always had a place at the table for whoever needed a meal, or a place to sleep for whoever needed a bed. She ironed Army soldiers’ uniforms, took care of foster children, raised chickens, pigs, rabbits, grew herbs, and even went to “A Dime A Dance” dances to help her family get ahead. There wasn’t anything that could hold Luisa back, no matter how difficult the situation or work was, she wasn’t about to let it get the best of her. With nine children of her own, seven making it into adulthood, the thing that I remember most of her, was her ability to laugh and have fun. As we honor Women’s Month, we do not have to look far to find those strong inspiring, and amazing mujeres who have permanently impacted our lives in transformational ways. The teachers, mothers, grandmothers, tias, bosses, neighbors, sisters, comadres, cousins, and friends who step into the place of a mujer and offered us: love, dignity, respect, nurturing us with compassion, inspiring us to be a better version of ourselves. I know for this little girl, who is now an elder, I have carried the laughter of my grandmother in my heart for all my years. Luisa Serrano Carvalho Figueroa, may you rest in peace and I thank you for all your teachings, love, and hugs, but most of all your laughter.
Maestra Debra Camarillo
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