Although only six years older than me, Carmen Delia treated me like one more son who had arrived late in her life.
His affection, masked by severity, was evident in the warm hospitality that he reserved, jealous of his privacy, for the family that he protected against thick and thin from his early widowhood, extending it to children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, neighbors and patients.
Endowed with a generous vocation of community service, good food was the forefront of a fierce campaign that encompassed the Twin Towers condominium, the pharmacies and hospitals where it organized, dispatched and relieved patients and impatient patients with medicines, to the city of Ponce, island, the United States and the whole world, which did not recognize its sense of civic responsibility.
She stewed the beans, which as every good Puerto Rican knows, is the ultimate test of a cook, with a highly personal seasoning that eclipsed inns, restaurants and less fortunate homes.
I enjoyed the privilege of sitting at her table and enjoying the additional seasoning of her childhood stories in Aguirre, the battles in hospitals and pharmacies where she worked for more than five decades as a pharmacist determined to alleviate the pain of others by making it her own and her consequent trips to meet the needs of the large extended family.
She always prescribed a break for me that she never applied to herself. She accused herself of being questioning, but said, and it is true, that it was the most direct way to learn from others. She was stubborn in her convictions, but in the end her respect for the divergent opinion prevailed.
Of short stature, nothing intimidated her, defiant since her premature orphanage, struggling in university studies, professional practice, the obsessive acquisition of lots and shelters, the result of original helplessness and poverty. Providing for others was his obsessive way of making up for the loss that marked his childhood.
We are countless the beneficiaries of his favors, many who did not even know his name, because one of the noblest aspects of charity is anonymity. We will miss the questioning disposition, incisive gaze, kind smile and poorly concealed tenderness of his petite and energetic person.
The legacy of the character and actions of his children, daughter-in-law, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, sister, nephew and family members who are all of us, the heirs of his goodness, remains.