Tag Archives: abuela

Seeing God in Abuela

When my father and my mother forsake me, then the Lord will take me up.
Psalm 27.10, KJV

My abuela Palmira left this world on March 30th, 2014. She was the last one of my grandparents to leave us. I had been blessed with three sets of grandparents as my father had two sets of parents, his birth parents, abuelo Quino and abuela Margot, and the couple of welcomed him into their family when he was quite young and working away from his hometown, abuelo Jobito and abuela Ester. My maternal grandfather, abuelo Juanito, left us when I was 8 years old but I still remember him very well. Every Sunday afternoon, when the family gathered at their home, he would sit on his rocking chair and tell us funny stories that would make us laugh for hours. Abuela Palmira would stand next to him and laugh with all of us.

Abuela Palmira   There was something peculiar about my maternal grandparents. They practiced Spiritism, a religion in which every human being is of sacred worth and where spirits guide us to be in communion with the Great Spirit that is sometimes called God. At their home, everyone was welcomed and celebrated. They never rejected anyone. My grandparents believed in serving everyone and in welcoming everyone without distinction. Although I was too young when my grandfather died and thus not even aware of my own sexual orientation, I know that my grandfather would have accepted me and celebrated me. My grandmother, however, had the chance to know who I am as a whole person and she always, without doubt and without excuses, celebrated me for who I am.

When I think about abuela Palmira, the verse that always comes to mind is that of Psalm 27.10: “When my father and my mother forsake me, then the Lord will take me up.” When my parents rejected me for being queer, it was abuela who welcomed me. She always supported me and celebrated my life. When I introduced her to my now husband, I was told that she spent months telling everyone who would listen about the wonderful man I had met. Recently, while talking with an aunt, she told me how they found among abuela’s personal items the wedding invitation I had sent her for my marriage. I knew she would not be able to attend my wedding due to health problems, but she had kept that invitation as an important memento. Through these actions, I can say that abuela embodied the Holy One in my life. Thus, when my parents disowned me, God took me up through the love, support and affirmation of my abuela Palmira.

The Sunday before abuela departed this world, my husband and I spent time with her. We had been in Puerto Rico for vacation, and of course I had to go visit abuela. She made us laugh with her witty remarks. This was abuela. She was always making jokes and laughing about things, even when her health wasn’t the best, she always found joy in living. I am not naïve to say that she was perfect, because none of us are. She had her flaws and made mistakes like the rest of us. But her love and support meant the world to me, and it is those values that will stay with me throughout my life. Her love, her support, her laughter that last time I saw her will always be the manifestation of God in my life. I will keep her memory alive as long as I live and I will always share with the world the values that she shared with me.

Abuela Palmira, you are now gone from us, as you would have said, you are now “unfleshed”, but your spirit will continue to guide me just as the spirit of abuelo Juanito has never left me. Gracias por todo, abuelita.



Leave a comment

Filed under amor, Culture, Dios, familia, Gay, Heritage, Hispanics, Latino, Lesbian, LGBTQ, Puerto Rico, Queer, Theology

An Update

It’s been a while since my last post on this blog. Way too much has happened since. I hope to be in a more regular schedule of writings in the months to come, but for now, I thought appropriate to share some of the reasons I have been so silent in the past few months. 

First, I have traveled quite a bit these past few months. First a mission trip to Tijuana, México where I was volunteering at a women’s shelter. Then a short vacation to Puerto Rico with my spouse and some friends. Then spent some time in Cuba for the International Journey Against Homophobia. I promise I will share some of the stories later in the year. 

Second, a painful loss in my family. My beloved abuela, Palmira Rivera, died on April 30th, the same day I was returning to Seattle from my vacation in Puerto Rico. Thankfully, my husband and I got to spend a great time with my abuela the Sunday before she died. Abuela Palmira made us laugh… she laughed and made jokes and had a great time. I feel at peace knowing that the last I saw of my abuela was her laugh. There are many other stories about abuela that I’ll be sharing with you. For now, all I want to say is that she was the biggest one of my supporters. Even when my parents cut me off their lives, abuela welcomed me and showed her unconditional love for me and my spouse. I will miss her dearly.

Finally, some big news: I will be moving from Seattle, WA to Madison, WI. I had been called to serve as the Executive Director of The Crossing, an ecumenical (American Baptist, United Church of Christ and United Methodist) campus ministry at the University of Wisconsin – Madison. This is a huge change for me. I am leaving behind over 15 years of parish ministry and starting something completely new. I am both excited and nervous about this new chance. I look forward to working with students and also reaching out to local congregations and individuals who are passionate about reaching out to new generations of leaders. 

I have done quite a few other things here and there. But right now I am in the middle of important transitions in my life and the life of my family. I look forward to the many more opened doors that are ahead of me and to close some chapters in my life as well. That’s it for now. I will be coming back with more stories and commentaries in the coming weeks. 

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized