Praise God, after a century of service, Abuelita Tula has returned home. Unfortunately, by the time my memories began in earnest, Abuela's had started to fail. But certainly not the memories of her- those were getting into full swing. My life is littered with answering the door to a half dozen people spending their Saturday to remember Tula, and with people passing back and forth through customs of various countries, just to pay homage to the memory of a woman who, as far as I could tell, was long gone.
But that isn't all that strange. Our culture is full of heroes and champions whose honor begins well after their death. Abuelita Tula may not get a statue or holiday, but she reminds us what they mean- that the ripples of our lives reach into the lives of those around us, and are preserved only by our persistent echoing of them.
I have been blessed these past few weeks to learn, with far greater detail, the shape of those ripples. The pattern that she was all too aware of and happy to undertake. I've learned, bitter sweetly, that Tula and I had a lot in common would have been good friends, frequently in agreement about what to do.
That pattern she followed was a simple weave- over, under, over, under. When she found her self on the rise- in Cuba, Miami, Church, or anywhere in between- that was a sign to pull someone else up. And just as often, she'd lift up others by lowering herself- prices or schedules or status. In a world where so many people want to be on top all the time, Tula weaved herself through the fabric of her communities.
She couldn't see the way the colors and threads worked together, but had tremendous faith that there was, in fact, a pattern she was part of. A pattern that withstood the loss of her parents, her home, her country, her language, and eventually her mind. And see now how her faith has been rewarded! She was not a root dug out of the ground, she was seed cast to the wind, and we are all her crop. One servant made dozens by the drama of tragedy plus faith. It's said that tragedy and time make comedy, but Tula gives us another recipe, and another reason to laugh. Tragedy plus faith gives us Joy- Joy that empowers us to bring smiles and song to others, no matter the circumstance.
Thank you, Tula.