Eulogy, Luz Maria Alvarado

My mother was a unique individual. She was a beautiful woman whose looks attracted attention wherever she went. I remember as a child walking with her through a parking lot and getting whistled at. I could feel her indignation, but we just keep walking, only we picked up the pace a bit. But did this quality go to her head? Not at all. I only knew her as a humble, self-effacing wife whose highest goal was to serve her husband and children. When we were rebellious teenagers, she patiently emphasized to us the importance of respect for our father. And she lived that as well, demonstrating in her own behavior that respect which she also exhorted from us. In this regard, but not only in this regard, my father was a blessed man.

And I knew her as a person devoted to learning, to reading. She had a great love of books, and she passed that love to me. At school she was the smartest kid in the class. For one jealous teacher, this did not stand her in good stead, at least according to Mom’s telling. But in high school it earned her the admiration of her future husband, who always prided himself on the intelligence of his wife. Not that he always listened to her, of course. But just ask him who’s the smartest and he’ll tell you. And if you sat down with her to a game of Scrabble, you needed to prepare yourself to be humbled. She never lost, at least in our house – and this, from a person for whom English was a second language.

She loved dolls, and had quite a collection of them. She also loved to make dresses. I remember as a child seeing the dress patterns strewn across the bed, and I remember all the time she spent at the Singer sewing machine of hers. I’m sure of one thing, although we never spoke of it – she would have loved to have had a daughter, to whom she could have passed all of this onto. Instead she and Dad had five sons. We weren’t quite the matter into which she could press the form. But, she did teach me how to sew buttons onto a shirt, so there’s that.

She managed to manage five sons quite well, even when Dad was off on one of his many six-month cruises to the Mediterranean, during the height of the Cold War. There we are, driving with him to the pier, right up to the ship, to drop him off. And then, it was a kiss for luck and he was on his way. But she never showed weakness or recalcitrance or resentfulness. She was a Navy wife, and for a Navy wife, duty came first. We all bucked up and accepted this as the price to pay in service of our country.

Many more things come to mind, but I will restrict myself to a few more random observances from my childhood:

  • My mother wasn’t the greatest driver. One time she got pulled over on Va. Beach Blvd. for driving too slow! Granted it was during a downpour, but still, for a policeman to pull her over and come to the car in that pouring rain… she must have been driving really slow.
  • On top of that, she had the habit of pressing the gas and letting it up, pressing it down, letting it up… I think I asked her once why she did that, but I don’t remember the details. I know it seemed odd, even to a 10-year-old.
  • She had a rapier-like wit. She could hit you with a smart remark, especially if she was a little peeved. But it was never anything mean or cruel.
  • She once asked me if I wanted go to the movies with her. It was a matinee at the Princess Theater over on Va. Beach Blvd. and I guess I was the only available suspect. I must have been nine years old? I said “Great! Let’s go!” What she didn’t tell me is that the movie was “Gone with the Wind.” Yes, I sat through the entire thing including intermission. I didn’t complain – I was a Navy son – but I did lose the plot, I think right after Scarlett took care of the Union soldier in her house, which I found exciting enough. But after that, memory fades into nothingness…
  • I remember her taking me to the dispensary on base at Oceana when I was sick, and crying the entire drive home. Apparently they thought I had leukemia, but it turned out just to be cat-scratch fever. At any rate, I could only cast glances at her and wonder what all the fuss was about.

One other thing, and this told me about her faith. It was somewhere around 1964 or ’65, and one of the things I had picked up from television was the supposed existence of Martians, space aliens, creatures from outer space. That scared me pretty good. So I had this nightmare once of aliens in our backyard, trying to get into our house through the sliding door in our living room. They were bent over trying to force the door. That nightmare scared me to death. So I went to Mom and told her about it. And she looked at me and said, “Charley, do you think God would make those things? Do you think He would send them to us, just to do us harm?” And I said, “No, I guess He wouldn’t.” And from that time on I had no fear of Martians.

It would take a while, but that faith in God which she had, eventually found its way to me. In that regard, the apostle Paul could say to me, what he said to his disciple Timothy. “I am reminded of your sincere faith, which first dwelt in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice, and I am convinced is in you as well” (2 Tim. 1:5). And for that reason, this day is not a day of grieving but of hope. For he who dies in the Lord will live again. What did Jesus say? “Have you not read about the burning bush in the Book of Moses, how God told him, ‘I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob’? He is not the God of the dead, but of the living. You are badly mistaken!” (Mark 12:26-27). What did Paul say? “Brothers, we do not want you to be uninformed about those who sleep in death, so that you will not grieve like the rest, who are without hope. For since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, we also believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in Him” (1 Thess. 4:13-14).

Take comfort, and trust in God. We will see each other again, in Him.