Queen Elizabeth II, Britain's longest-reigning monarch and a rock of stability across much of a turbulent century, died Thursday Sept. 8, 2022, after 70 years on the throne, at the age of 96. ( Photo: AP/Andreea Alexandru)

The recent death of Queen Elizabeth II has motivated me to think about how we treat our own personal Queens – our mothers. There is an old proverb that comes to mind – one mother can care for ten children, but ten children can’t care for one mother. How are we treating our American Queens in this generation?

My grandmother (affectionately known as Mima) lived with my family when she finally immigrated from Cuba in the early 1970s. Having our grandmother live with us was great for my brother and me. One drawback of this arrangement was having to share my tiny pink room consisting of two twin beds and white French provincial furniture with her. As Cuban refugees, we needed to use all the space in our small South Philly row home. In the end, though, Mima’s personality, love, stories, and especially her cooking more than made up for the minor inconvenience and severe lack of privacy.

I always imagined my brother Eddie and I were the most culinarily spoiled children in the neighborhood. Living in an Italian community with other grandmothers and their extended families, we probably weren’t the only kids who ate well. Still, I would bet my grandmother’s flan that we were undoubtedly in the top two or three. Mima brought endless joy into our lives until 1978 when she suffered a stroke and later died in 1982. My mother (also named Aleida) cared for her until the day she died while working a full-time job and managing her life and raising children.

It makes sense, especially in our Latino culture, that we care for the people whose hands became worn by caring for us, and whose faces are now filled with wrinkles from worrying about us. My mom taught me caring for her mother was the right thing to do, just as Mima had cared for her parents before they passed.

When it was my turn to care for my mother, I already understood my role.

As a teen, I remember thinking that my mom was totally out of touch with what was «cool» and «in.» And she probably was, but what was cool back then didn’t last long, and now it is as clear as her crystal ball, that I just should have listened to her more. Mom was right a lot – well, most of the time – actually, almost every time. Mom was my Queen, and like she was to her mother, I was beholden to care for her. Regardless of any past disagreements or differences in opinion, it was my role—a role which I fulfilled until March 12, 2012, when my Queen passed away.

Although there was less fanfare than the passing of Queen Elizabeth, my devotion and love for my Queen surpassed the mountains of flowers laid in her honor.

I write this as a gentle reminder that children do what is taught in actions, not words. Our Queens deserve all the devotion, care, appreciation, and fanfare as any other Queen. Remember that your children watch how you treat your mother and learn how to treat you as you age.


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