Reflections of a Birthday…Rejoicing new life, even through death

Yesterday was my birthday and I received a few calls from loved ones.  One was from my son which did my heart good, REAL good, and one from Papa Pino, my Pop-in-Law.  He spoke of my Mom-in-law which brought a few tears to my eyes and then a smile.  When we think about the people who are gone from our lives, rather than thinking about them not being here, shouldn’t we think about the joy they brought to our lives?  There’s a phrase I’ve seen out there, “Don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened.”  While reflecting on this day, I came to read the following page out of my journal from two years ago.  It kind of speaks to that idea.


Reflections of a Birthday

by Sarah HYPERLINK “”Pinedo on Tuesday, March 8, 2011 at 7:38pm ·

For the past three years, when 24February rolls around, my husband and I think back to 2007 and that very day.  Why?  Because it is a day forever etched in our memories.  That evening we’d received a phone call no parent ever wants to get.  The scene of the accident was like a scene out of the movies.  We arrived in time to see the ambulance speeding away with our son, to see the fire dept. roping off the area where the mangled car was, and to see the helicopter arrive overhead and hear the paramedics radio back to the officer, “there is no time to turn back for the helicopter.”  Every year on this date I am reminded to be thankful for the time I have with my children and to tell them I love them, because no one knows what tomorrow will bring.  But now there is another date to remind me of this, 25Feb2011.  That Friday we got the call that Mama Beca, my mom-in-law, had passed.  Never again will I hear “I love you Mija” from this woman I’ve grown to love.

28February is my birthday.  In 2007 it was a day of hoping.  Hoping that Richard would wake up from the coma he was in.  Friends came to see Rick & me, and some would say, “Maybe you’ll get your birthday wish and he’ll wake up today.”  It was a birthday I won’t forget.  And because of this, the last few birthdays have been wonderful to me because I’ve been able to be with both of my children on my birthdays.  This past Monday, my birthday, I woke up thinking I would not hear “Las Mañanitas” anymore.  It is a song about the day of one’s birth which Mama Beca would sing to me over the phone every year while playing the recording she had of it.  This day, however, I expected not even a “happy birthday” from anyone.  When I walked into the living room though, Papa Pino put his arms around me and said, “Feliz cumpleaños mija.”  When I asked him how he remembered he said, “yo siempre recuerdo,” I always remember.  All these years I thought it was Mama Beca that reminded him of the birthdays but… he remembers too.  Shortly after, Rick & I went to Maria’s house.  After Rick checked his emails I took a few minutes to scroll thru mine.  My sis-in-law had left her computer playing music in Spanish, and as I was about to get off, I heard a melody and then the trumpet sound, and I turned to look at Rick.  Could it be?  Then the words to the song began, “♪Que linda está la mañana en que vengo a saludarte…♫” it was “Las Mañanitas”.  It was as though we were being told that, although she is gone, she is still with us in spirit.

That afternoon was “el velorio”, the wake, and there is so much in my memory of this day.  The photo collages put together by the Pinedo families that were so nicely done, the beautiful flowers, the bio on Mama Beca defining her as the Proverbs 31 woman, and the slideshow my nephew Josh made w/music that she loved.  And then there was the little surprise at the end…it was her voice saying “I love you, Muah!”  Josh did an excellent job.  My nieces, Jessica & Michelle, put together pins w/four pearls and six ‘diamonds’ representing the ten children, four girls and six boys.  The inspiration came from a poem Papa Pino wrote to Mama Beca.  The girls were so creative and so beautiful to do that for everyone.  Papa Pino was so strong and greeted each person as they came to him.  When my Mama came up to him she was holding back tears of her own as she had just received word that her brother, my Uncle Adrian, had passed away.  We had been planning to make a trip to PuertoRico so she could see family members “one last time” as she puts it, and seeing her pain brought more hurt to my heart than I was already feeling.  This was yet another reminder that no one knows what tomorrow will bring.  Later that night, after getting back to the folks house, Papa Pino asked me to remember my “suegra” every year on my birthday.  I will not forget.  Every year on this day I will be thankful that Mama Beca was a part of my life for nearly 26 years.

01March07 has been a day we remember each year as a day of rejoicing.  It was the day Richard opened his eyes for the first time after having been in a coma since the night of the accident.  For us that day represents a new beginning to his life, much like the day of his birth.  Like a young child, he learned to walk again, eat with a fork, and to write his name again.  He began his life anew.  Of course, it is up to Richard to make the most of this life, something I don’t think he’s quite grasped yet.  But hopefully, one day he will understand this and be the testimony for God that I feel HE means for Richard to be. *

Now we have a second reason to remember this date.  This past Tuesday, 01March11, was not only Mama Beca’s birthday but it is the day we said our “goodbyes” to her.  It began that morning with the siblings gathering around her to sing “the birthday song”.  She looked elegant in the gown she had worn for the celebration of her and Papa Pino’s 60th wedding anniversary in “07.  I will not forget Pablo singing, “Un Dia a la Vez”, Carlos speaking, even saying “Amen”, Vic’s heartfelt words, Michelle’s beautiful rendition of “Mi Gran Dicha” written by Papa Pino to our Mama Beca, Rose speaking about wanting a “Mama Beca house” of her own, Jessica & Gloria’s palabras de amor, Alexis playing and singing the song she wrote, and Danny & then Roy’s words about this “good woman”.  Pablo then sang another song Mama Beca wanted “Cuando Alla Se Pase Lista”, before Pastor Guerra spoke.  Papa Pino spoke next.  Pino means ‘pine tree’ and he is strong, like a tree.  And the many branches that sprouted from that tree were there to hear him speak of his beloved.  Although we all will miss her…he will miss her most.  We all left the church, and as the procession drove along, when we passed the house, Papa Pino said to her, “aqui es donde vivías, pero ahora vives en el cielo”, here is where you lived but now you live in heaven.  How can I forget his words?  The surprise was then passing where the old house was, and he said, “eso es el arbol que estaba en frente de tu casa” and he talked a little about the house in which they had raised their children.  As we arrived at St. Michael’s the sun was out and shining, and the “boys” took her to where she would lay, next to her son Michael and granddaughter Emma.  There is much I will remember of this time.  The lilies and red roses, my daughter Mari rubbing her hand along her Papa’s back, Richard taking his rose to Mama Beca with his Papa, arms around each other, tears falling because she will be missed, the playing of “Las Mañanitas” and so much more.

Birthdays are days that we celebrate the beginning of one’s life.  So, it was very appropriate to have the mariachis playing “Las Mañanitas”, not because it was Mama Beca’s earthly birthday, but because it is actually the beginning of her new life, her life in heaven.  As I dropped in the lily that day, I said, “Ciao Becky”, the kind of goodbye that you say when you hope, when you know, that you will see that someone again someday.  Because when my time comes, I will see her again, and hear the words “Señora Pinedo, I love you too much.”  🙂

John 11:25-26   Jesus said, “I am the resurrection and the life:  he that believes in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live.  And whosoever believes in me shall never die.  Believest thou this?”


*On the 24th my son wrote on his facebook, “Today is the day I lived.”  Profound words, don’t you think?

Richard and Me


Mama Beca and Papa Pino

The Folks


One thought on “Reflections of a Birthday…Rejoicing new life, even through death

  1. Pingback: Count Your Blessings | Sarah Smiles...

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