My mother, Algerina Medeiros, left this world Aug. 26 at age 99. For two days, family and people who knew her gathered in her hometown of Fairhaven, Massachusetts to celebrate her life. Here is the eulogy I wrote and gave at her funeral Mass. It will tell you some about this inspiring woman.
We’re here today to celebrate the life of Algerina Medeiros, mother, grandmother, great-grandmother, sister, aunt, friend, and to many people in town, “Mrs. Hawk.”
Our mother had a humble beginning, growing up in Acushnet with parents who had emigrated from Madeira and grew or made everything they needed. She loved school, wanted to be a nurse, but as was common then, had to drop out of high school to work as a stitcher in one of the textile mills to help out the family.
At age 24, Mom met Antone Medeiros on a blind date, they fell in love, and the two were married six weeks later. They were together 67 years until our father’s passing in 2015. Ever the practical person, Mom had instructed to put in her obit that the best years of her life were the ones in which she was married.
Mom and Dad were indeed partners, raising four children in the home they built in North Fairhaven. Mom was proud she laid the wooden floors, but that wasn’t her only contribution. Over the years, she used her talents to create braided rugs, paintings, artfully finished furniture, and more, taking night classes at New Bedford Vocational. Then there was the large vegetable garden they grew.
She was a stay-at-home mother until we were school age. Then she worked as one of the cafeteria ladies for Fairhaven’s schools until she retired as supervisor.
Family was important with frequent visits to our extended relatives and helping out with the grandkids. She was the humble mother who wanted her offspring to do better than her. And she stuck by us no matter what.
Mom was a person interested in life. She loved being involved with Dad’s many pursuits. You would find her on the sidelines watching and keeping score for any team he played or coached. Then there were the Portuguese feasts, especially Our Lady of Angels, and town celebrations. I can recall her and Dad spending hours digging for quahogs and clams in West Island.
For many years, they were involved in the shows put on by St. Mary’s. Dad along with our brother, Tony, were among the headliners. Mom, who had a good singing voice, was in the chorus. She also used her amazing skills as a seamstress to create costumes without a pattern. Her costume creations continued for our father’s appearances during town events. The upstairs in their home is filled with them.
Mom was an inspiring role model, as shown by the many family members who express themselves creatively. For me, she became one of the characters in the mystery series I write.
Mom was a person who enjoyed games of chance and frankly, she was lucky at them. She went to Bingo games when that was popular. She loved taking the bus with our father to play the slots at the casinos in Rhode Island. Of course, there were trips to Las Vegas, as well as other places such as Hawaii, the Azores, and Madeira. Mom was a curious traveler who kept diaries about their trips.
She was a voracious reader, stocking up on books at the Millicent Library and tag sales. She stayed up late with the TV on, keeping up with the news and her favorite shows, but usually working on a puzzle like Sudoku or playing solitaire on her tablet, perhaps with a cat on her lap. She was likely one of the Standard Time’s most devoted readers.
I mentioned earlier our mother was a practical person. That meant we had to be extra early at any event to get a good seat. She was also the ultimate bargain hunter. When driving in her later years, she would only take right-hand turns. Besides Tony’s house and visits to her sister, Ernestina, she had three destinations: Wendy’s, Wal-Mart, and Market Basket.
And I have yet to meet a person who loves lobster as much as Mom.
A few years ago, Mom entered a convalescent home when she could no longer live on her own. Now she was more of an observer than a doer. We family members who lived far away missed our weekly phone calls. But she got pleasure from her visitors and from reading her newspaper. And she still maintained her smile and keen sense of humor.
I could tell you more about our mother who lived to be 99. I am sure you have your own stories.
Algerina Medeiros showed that you don’t have to be rich or famous to live a full creative life. She will be missed.
ABOUT THE PHOTO ABOVE: My mother holds me when I was just a little bitty baby.