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A Lady Leaves the Room...

The passing of a beautiful mother

By Frankie Firme
Published on LatinoLA: October 30, 2006


A Lady Leaves the Room...


The pain in my heart is overwhelming...I have never hurt this bad before in my life...

I'm a man who grew up and survived in the tough streets of East L.A. and Bassett, California.

I've been shot, beaten, and stabbed before. I've had my heart broken, suffered humiliation, disappointment, and embarrassment in my lifetime. I've lost, been ripped off, and suffered the loss of close friends and some family members. I've even survived a war as a combat Marine.

...but nothing has ever hurt this bad before.

Recently, a beautiful Lady left this World. My Mother. Beautiful doesn't begin to describe the magnitude of the love this woman spread in her lifetime, and the profound effect she had on my life, and the lives of my brothers and sisters, and all that knew her.

As I write this piece, my eyes water, I miss this Lady profoundly...and I hurt, ever so badly...

Born in East L.A. in 1932, Lupe lost both parents by the time she was 14. Her sister and four brothers stuck together in a tough world during tough times, and as a familia, they learned, loved, and survived...and passed that on.

In 1951, Lupe, also known in her neighborhood as "China", married the man she would spend 55 years and the rest of her life with, raising 4 sons and 3 daughters. She kept her family tight with love, always instilling the importance of familia, love, and respect.

She cooked, she cleaned, she worked, she sacrificed, she cared, and she taught life in the classroom of her home, on her terms. Although her and my Father worked and sacrificed equally hard for many years, it was always, and will always, be known as "Mom's house", "Grandma's house", or "Aunt Lupe's house". (Sorry, Pops. Ain't taking a thing from you...that's just the way it became!)

Ever since we moved into the house in La Puente in 1964 from East L.A., the "Lady with seven kids who lives on Siesta Avenue" never had an enemy to my knowledge, and she kept her lifelong friends from the old neighborhood in East L.A., who visited frequently over the years.

A disciplined woman who lovingly became known for her quick wit, sarcasm, and opinion, even during her last couple of years, Lupe was also known for her unquestionable and unchallengeable love for her family...even when she was scolding you. (And, as barrio legends and lore go, she was an expert with deadly accuracy when hooking you from across the room with an airborne "chancla" that could shame a boomarang if you acted up!) We just couldn't do no wrong in her eyes, and we learned to scold each other if we ever came close.

And she could cook like NOBODY's business! She made legendary potato salad, chicken mole, caldos, chorizo-con-anything, and capirotada. During lean times (and we had some, believe me!), what this woman could do with beans, tortillas, rice, weenies and baloney would blow you away. And she was always able to make enough where there was always leftovers if anybody ever came over. After many delicious years, about the only battle my Father ever won was that he made better menudo. (My mother would eat it of course, but she always insisted "it better be hot!")

"Have you eaten yet? Are you hungry?" was always the first question she asked whenever family or friends visited, and if you didn't eat, 9 times out of 10 , she sent you off with a plate to go.

...that was "Guada", as she became affectionately known as in her later years.

Her price: Just a hug and some love. Priceless. Better than gold or diamonds.

If her and my Father couldn't offer us anything else, there was always food and love in "Guada's house". You can't put a price on that, Mi Gente, and if you could, you couldn't afford it!

I can honestly say with heartbroken pain and a deep, deep sense of personal loss,if I had a million, I'd give it up for one last hug from Guada!

Her home was the setting for countless weddings, baptisms, birthdays, bar-b-ques, and celebrations. There was always food, laughter, music and dancing at Guada's house.

Gauda loved music and dancing, and she instilled that love in us all.

Growing up, we had some lean Christmases, but we never knew it. I always remember my Mom & Dad dancing together, surrounded by family, to beautiful Mexican boleros that always watered every eye in the house, making us forget all about presents for a moment, as we watched our parents dance in happiness and in the warm glow of family...a present in itself I will cherish forever.

As she became ill and her time was near, Guada insisted on having her last breath in her house, surrounded by her familia. To her honor, NOBODY even considered otherwise, and we wouldn't have had it any other way.

Just before she was taken away to her final destination after taking her last breath, I tearfully watched my Father, a stern man who shunned public showing of emotion & affection all of our lives, tearful and heartbroken, serenading my mother their favorite Mexican bolero while caressing her face and hands, kissing her softly on her lips, and telling her in sSpanish over and over "I Love you, Guada. I'm sorry for anything I ever did to hurt you. I'll be joining you soon... I promise".

At the moment, the earth has stopped turning, the winds have stopped blowing, there is beautiful sunshine, and the gates of heaven have opened up for my mother.

...she always knew how to make an entrance! That was MY MOM!

A husband, 7 children, 13 grandchildren, 12 great grandchildren, and countless other family and friends mourn the loss of a beautiful Lady...

Thanks Mom...for everything! If you hadn't taught us so much love, it wouldn' hurt so much...but we wouldn't have it any other way.

I love you, and will miss you for the rest of my life.

...save us a chair up there, Guada...you're gonna need a lot of them!

R.I.P. ~ Lupe Arzaga ~ You've earned it, Mom!

About Frankie Firme:
The Arzaga family thanks you all for the many heartfelt condolences.




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