During my formative years, while a student at Public School (P.S. 101) in the Borough of Manhattan, New York City, I encountered an unforgettable teacher. I remember her, not for being of short stature and with flaming red hair, but for the delicious cheese cake which she gave me as a prize for being the most calm and orderly kid in her class for the day. This was her way of controlling the most restless (or over-active) children in her classroom. How could she know that I had to fight John Brown, the bully of the class, for that cheese cake prize! This taught me the art of "fight and flight". However, THIS WAS NOT THE MOST UNFORGETTABLE PERSON THAT I HAVE KNOWN!
There was the unforgettable and meticulous Julia ALvarez, my mother's life long friend. How could I know at that point in time that this lady had conspired with my mother's female friends to reinforce in me a sense of true "machismo" - to fulfill the role of the first born male child in the family of nine boys and two girls. This woman provided me with a positive model of an orderly and tidy person in her daily domestic tasks. However, THIS WAS NOT THE MOST UNFORGETTABLE PERSON THAT I'VE EVER KNOWN!
Then there was the grand lady, JUANA PETRONA LOPEZ OCHOA, of Maya Indian ancestry. This lady managed various extraordinary feats in her lifetime. For her, there never was a scarcity of people who sought her help in relocating in the mainland of the United States of America. Even though she never had the opportunity to be formally educated, this grand lady did manage to become bilingual.
Her first born son remembers her as his champion when, he being outnumbered by a street gang of boys, she defended him - swinging blows left and right with her purse. In those snowy winters, she would go out in the neighborhood to pick up fallen branches from the evergreen trees and she would construct a christmas Tree. She would adorn it with paper ornaments and horns which she handmade. She would pray and on many occasions the sick would recover. She provided a model of faith and confidence in the Almighty God. Her son can describe her as a "Super-Mom" and in Biblical terms such as found in PROVERBS 31:13-29
SHE SEEKS WOOL, AND FLAX, AND WORKS WILLINGLY WITH HER HANDS.
SHE IS LIKE THE MERCHANTS' SHIP; SHE BRINGS HER FOOD FROM
SHE RISES ALSO WHILE IT IS YET NIGHT, AND GIVES MEAT TO HER
SHE STRETCHES OUT HER HAND TO THE POOR ; SHE REACHES FORTH HER HAND
TO THE NEEDY.
SHE IS NOT AFRAID OF SNOW FOR HER HOUSEHOLD: FOR HER HOUSEHOLD
ARE CLOTHED WITH SCARLET.
SHE MAKES FINE LINEN AND SELLS IT; SHE DELIVERS GIRDLES TO THE
MANY DAUGHTERS HAVE DONE VIRTUOUSLY, BUT YOU EXCEL THEM
This lady - my mother - whom OUR LORD GOD picked up to be with HIM as of the 23 of December 1989 - is
THE MOST UNFORGETTABLE WOMAN IN MY LIFE