Many of you know Larry Ling, a very dedicated parishioner and familiar face at Xavier. Larry was extremely generous to our parish during the Christmas and Easter flower collections and, in both cases, made it clear that his gifts were made in honor of his beloved, late mother, Elvira. I was really touched by Larry’s generosity but more so by his devotion to his mom. So I invited him to write about her. Here’s what Larry wrote:
“When Fr. Joe asked me to write a little something about my mom, I thought to myself, how can I write about my wonderful mother and do her justice? So I decided to go with excerpts from the eulogy written and given by my ex-partner at my mom’s funeral mass.
Elvira was born on July 13, 1924 in Nogales, Veracruz, Mexico, and grew up at a time when a young girl was expected to be obedient at all times and in every instance to her parents, and later, in marriage to a husband. But Elvira was born with a fierce independent streak and a profound sense of dignity that would set her on a course of life that was unheard of for a young Mexican woman of her day.
Elvira, as a young girl, had received a beating from her father merely for asking for a cup of coffee before she was to perform her household chores. Rather than breaking her spirit, though, her father’s cruelty helped to awaken in Elvira an intense need to live life solely on her own terms. Determined not to be beholden to her father after that, she began washing laundry for her neighbors for small amounts of money at a time when such an endeavor meant lugging piles of dirty clothes down to a stream, beating them against the rocks until clean, and laying them out in the sun to dry.
Elvira eventually married and started a family. However, unlike her girlfriends, she was not content to stand by witnessing her husband’s infidelities; instead, with her sense of justice and her determination never to be the trapped possession of any man, Elvira bravely confronted her husband in public and removed herself and their two sons from his home.
She journeyed to Washington, D.C. to start a new life, working as a domestic in the house of the Mexican consul. Later, she moved to Long Island, where she continued her work as a maid. With the money she earned, Elvira had finally achieved her dream of true economic independence for herself, and even earned enough to buy a large courtyard house in Veracruz for her mother and the sons that she had left behind. Elvira remained connected and committed to her family in Mexico, and returned there to visit them many times.
In the mid 1950s, she moved to Manhattan to find work in the garment industry that was still thriving here at the time. Her career as a factory coat marker would sustain her for the next thirty-five years until her retirement in the early 1990s.
In the meantime, she met Larry’s father who would become her husband and the love of her life. Larry’s dad passed away in 1988, and ever since, Elvira remained devoted to her husband’s memory, making regular journeys to his grave to leave flowers, candles, and an assortment of his favorite snacks in the Chinese tradition.
Over the past few years, Elvira grew increasingly tired and frail, but thanks to her courage, perseverance, and above all her faith, she passed away peacefully, in fulfillment of her wishes, in the home where she lived for over 50 years.
It was her unwavering faith in God and the Saints that gave her the courage and the strength to do all that she did for her family. It is the faith that she passed on to me and has helped me during this very difficult time in my life. It is this faith that tells me that my mom is and will always be with me and someday I will once again be with her.”
Thank you, Larry. After reading your beautiful words, I feel as though I knew your mother personally. I’m sure other members of our community will feel likewise. May Elvira rest in the peace of Christ forever.