The funeral for Leonor Escudero, 83, got underway at the New Beginnings Church with a photo-montage of her large family, accompanied by narration in Spanish. When the pastor got up and welcomed the attendees in Spanish, I wondered if I’d be able to comprehend the service.
Phrases like “viendo eterna” (eternal life), “bonito” (beautiful) and “spiritu santo” (holy spirit) were understandable, but not much else to me, until the pastor switched to English. The sanctuary was filled with Leonor’s ten children, 34 grandchildren, 72 great-grandchildren, and six great-great-grandchildren. If I understood correctly, Leonor was one of 14 children, so she also had many nieces and nephews. One speaker said the room was wall-to-wall with Escuderos, and indeed, there were between 100 and 200 people in attendance.
Leonor lay in an open white casket with a purple spray of flowers on top. All visitors were directed to file past the casket and greet her children in the front row before the service got underway.
The saving power of Jesus and Leonor’s awesome motherly love were pervasive themes in this service. Several family members admitted struggles with drug addiction and alcoholism and preached about their own struggles to overcome these demons by accepting Jesus as Lord and Savior. A few spoke of putting differences aside and keeping the family together for Leonor’s sake.
At the prayer service the night before, the grandchildren had spoken about Leonor. Today, her children spoke of simple woman with a big heart. Though she had little education, Leonor was lauded as a wise woman from a very religious background. She loved having her family around, and was the glue that held the family together. She told her sons to respect their wives. They didn’t have much, but the family lacked for nothing. And she made the best bean burritos.
One of Leonor’s sisters sang several Spanish songs a cappella through the course of the service. Toward the end, the pastor quoted John 14 (“In my father’s house there are many mansions”) and read Revelation 21 in Spanish. He also went back and forth between English and Spanish, speaking of Leonor beginning her eternal life.
The service finished with one more opportunity to pay last respects before closing of the casket and taking Leonor to a local cemetery for burial. The family was invited to gather at the home of one of the children to continue the celebration of her life.
Gracias, Leonor Escudero, for your spiritu santo.