We all have people in our lives who we look up to. Role models to teach us the lessons of life. Who embed morals and instill a sense of being into who we are. My family and I have been so blessed to have had our Abuela Nilda as an exemplary role model. She was intelligent and ambitious, sassy and strong, fiery but kind, humorous and independent. She kept our heritage alive and our family bond strong.
Many of you know Abuela worked in the jewelry manufacturing business, working her way up from starting as a secretary to owning her own company; however, you may have not known that her company was nationally acclaimed––not only in one, but in two different years––and was even featured in a PBS network documentary for her special custom-order pieces. And what made that even more amazing?––She was a pioneer, being one of the only women in her day to do what she did in a male-dominated field. Not everyone has the privilege of saying that they had a grandma that cool. For a magazine publication, she had said, “I believe that with good self-esteem, proper education and management abilities, women can join the male mainstream that currently leads this country. Women are a strong and resourceful species who have struggled against insurmountable obstacles to succeed. I believe that with the right channeling and support, we can achieve our potential.” She was so wise and ahead of her time. Abuelo joked that if she had accomplished and said what she did in current days, she would have been canonized as a saint.
Her ambition, determination, and strive––unmatched from anything I have ever personally known. The fact that she got up everyday and still went to work as she underwent chemotherapy and cancer treatments was a true testament to the hard-working, driven woman she was.
I attribute my own sense of drive and ambition to her. My desire to achieve grandeur heights in life, it’s because of her. I only pray that I can one day be as successful and leave the legacy Abuela has so graciously left behind.
Her strong character was admirable but goodness did that make her stubborn. Abuela was one of the strongest people I know, never asking for help, trying to be as independent as she could. This even proved to be true in her last few days at the hospital.
I love you Abuela and I love who you taught me to be. A fierce, driven, passionate, and generous spirit. We have tons and tons of priceless memories. One of my recent favorites was when Abuela and I both made homemade limoncello and had a friendly competitive taste test to determine whose limoncello had come out better. While mine tasted much like a sweet lemon drink an amateur college kid would make, hers could dissolve the outer layer of my esophagus as it went down. But she loved it, she loved the burn, and she fully believed hers was much better than mine. A little bias but okay.
I will always remember the days the cousins would go into her office and touch everything in sight and ask a million and one questions. I remember how admirable she looked rocking her pantsuits, running the show at the office. While she conducted herself with pristine poise like the professional business woman she was, she wasn’t afraid to show her candor by cracking jokes and being silly. You would think the brains and personality is where it stopped, but no, she had the beauty, too. It’s almost unfair. Looking at all the photos we pulled out this past week reminded us of the true icon she was. From her thick gold hoops to her choice of bright blue eyeshadow to her funky oversized sunglasses and wild color animal print shirts, she was a true fashionista and put my daily outfit choice of athletic leisure wear to absolute shame.
I am sure everyone here can say our Abuela touched their heart in some way with her selflessness and generosity. Abuela was the epitome of what generous is and what generous should always be. I have never witnessed altruism so grand or comparable to hers.
We will miss her vibrancy and spunk. She was the type of person who carried a small bottle of Tabasco hot sauce in her purse, who would walk the George Washington bridge to New York and back, who loved the color purple and frogs and orchids and dirty martinis and red lipstick, who had a second Christmas tree solely dedicated to her alcohol-themed ornaments and even named her dog after her favorite vodka.
Leaving here today, I hope everyone can remember the impact Abuela Nilda had on our lives. I hope we can all live with a sense of passion, ambition, and selflessness we have all been so blessed to know and with such vigor that Abuela would be proud of. On behalf of the family, I want to thank everyone for coming here today to be with us and provide an air of love and support.
***Alyssa Mojica is a biochemistry major at the University of Delaware and my sister's niece. I was compelled to share this beautiful tribute by this lovely young lady about her amazing grandmother, a woman I wholly admired and loved.***
Paz Ellis writes in several genres and loves to read and support fellow authors.