We entered the funeral home, all three kids in tow. I felt a bit embarrassed to bring the crazy into such a calm sobriety, but she loved it when we would bring them into her tiny apartment in East Hialeah. She always had little gifts for them, something small she got from the bodega down the street. Even though I was full of anxiety that one of the kids would break something (tiny apartment + lots of tiny porcelain figures and vases + three small children = potential disaster) the smile on her face always put me at ease.
At 98 years old, her passing was no surprise. She had suffered much in her life and she was ready to move on, but this small woman left a big impact.
Of course the family was there to mourn and memorialize her passing, but what struck me more than anything were the other women there. Her hairdresser, her caretakers, all in tears, sharing stories of her kindness, bravery and strong spirit. She did not die with some great title, or having started a movement or even been known by thousands of people, but she lived a truly GREAT life. She made a HUGE impact because of the small acts of love she performed on a daily basis for those close to her.
She made a PROFOUND impression of everyone who knew her, not because she was eloquent or especially fashionable or wealthy or grand, but because of her LOVE.
I want to take notice of more people like Hortensia. The small but mighty who choose to love no matter how much work, no matter how inconvenient, no matter if they feel like it or not. They slip under the radar, un-appreciated by most, no glitz or glamor, but their impact on the world and those around them could not be more profound.
“Do small things with great love.” is a quote by Mother Theresa that I have always been drawn to, but this Monday, in a funeral home in Hialeah, I saw more clearly than ever what that kind of life looks like.