Me, Mike and Manny circa 1966

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Our Lady of Kings Court, Kendalia

For Mercedes and her Children

On the feast day of Our Lady of Mercy, I take my non-Catholic, non-Spanish speaking fiancé to the Church of the Little Flower to celebrate Mercedes Don Varona.

My friends José and Maria, children of Mercedes, organized a beautiful service.  It was a mix of Cuba and Miami and Italy and Wilmington.  It was the story of a mother’s journey home.  She had climbed back onto the boat that floated her spirit from Cuba and was traveling to another realm.   Even as we were sitting in the pews of the Church of the Little Flower, we stood at the shores and watched the boats go by—Noah’s arc, the ship to Ithaka, a passing image of the wedding at Cana.  We listened to musicians invoke the spirit of Cuba, a memory of the beautiful and complicated Mercedes.  (“Son, they have no more wine.”)

Mercedes always welcomed me into her home like family.  She kissed and sniffed at my skin when I entered.  She sat me down and her little dog ran circles around me and barked and she would wave that dog away. “She loves Pepe,” she’d say.   She told me stories of  her boy when he was young.  She opened up albums and pointed at photos of family she wanted me to know.  And the house was a gallery of Pepe’s paintings.  Once she ordered food from Carreta.  Pigs feet with garbanzo beans and rice.  I ate it.  I could not disappoint her.  I would not.

Last night, she must have been watching as words from the readings carried her away.  Some readings in Spanish and some in English.  Some readings missing. An oral storytelling from Father Ernesto.  At one point, I looked over to my fiancé, wondering if he could understand anything that was going on. 

“You’re smiling,” I whispered. 

“I’m charmed,” he answered. 

Mercedes must have been delighted. I will miss her and her beautiful ways.  Our lady of mercy, the mother of my friends, the Cuban grandmother I never had. 

1 comment:

  1. Evelina, thanks no only for capturing my mother so vividly but also for honoring us with your presence and also that of Chauncey's on the special evening of her Recordacion. You had a way of becoming immediately one of her favorite people, not only in Miami, but even "in life" as family of ours. This is a huge thing for Mercedes, and for you. You know about ships and voyages all too well, too, and about missing readings and mercy. Mil gracias, Evelina Luna Lina!