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Dignity… Courage… Devotion to Jesus

Leonora Garcia died on April 10, a day before her 91st birthday. Her Funeral Mass was held April 16. The following is her eulogy.

Leonora Helena Ramesar was born into a large family shepherded by Frederick and Veronica Ramesar, their parents. Leonora was the ninth of 12 children. Growing up in St James, she was a sprightly, energetic, and curious child, who cared deeply for her siblings.

Her mother died when she was just six years old, and she would recall in later years, her childhood memory of sitting at the foot of her mother’s bed as she breathed her last breath, surrounded by the parish priest, her father and older siblings. She cherished fiercely the memories of that loving mother she barely knew.

Petit Valley became her home when she moved there at the age of 11, to live with her eldest sister and her husband.

Leonora loved life, sang like a nightingale, and had an exuberant laugh—she loved a good joke and would burst into uncontrollable laughter with tears rolling down her cheeks.

As a teenager and young adult, she was a member of the Children of Christ and Legion of Mary groups at St John’s RC Church, and sang in the church choirs. An avid Girl Guide and Ranger she always spoke glowingly of the young ladies she led and mentored while in the Guides, reminiscing with great excitement on their camping trips to Toco and other places around Trinidad; the scary stories shared around the campfire and sleeping in the village schools with the cemeteries mere yards away.

She married Dennis Garcia (deceased) on February 21, 1960, and they raised a close-knit family of six children. Leonora was a true matriarch, strong in character and will, and would counsel her children to let their conscience be their guide.

She instilled strong moral and ethical values in them and would not tolerate dishonesty.

Born to lead, she took charge of situations naturally. Her love for people was evident in the time she spent listening, sharing ideas, jokes and life experiences. Creativity was her middle name and she would sew outfits for her children and herself that could have hung in top boutiques. She would tell her daughters, “If you love to dress, then you must learn to sew”, and proceeded to teach them.

She would tell her children; “Girl Guides are always prepared – be prepared for any situation. Always be on time. Arriving at the appointed time is late – be there 15 minutes before”.

Her preparedness permeated every aspect of her life, even attending Mass on a Saturday afternoon. Her stylish clothes would be laid out on her bed, matching high heeled shoes and bag nearby; hair well-coiffed and nails expertly polished red or pink. No-one would guess that a few hours earlier she would have been elbows deep in soil, planting in her garden, or washing dishes.

An elegant and dignified lady she was a shining example of courage, persistence, and assertiveness, never taking ‘no’ for an answer. She was not overwhelmed by status and would stand for what was right and just, regardless of the consequences. Her friends would tell stories of how this petit woman, stood up to towering men (and women) in defense of the underdog, without thinking twice.

She was courageous and fiercely independent, driving her car with the expertise of a racecar driver and grieving when she could no longer sit behind the wheel at 85.

Leonora’s life revolved around her devotion to Jesus Christ and His blessed Mother Mary. She taught her children to pray the rosary and was the godmother to numerous children whom she coached to conversion to Catholicism. Her devotion to Jesus was equalled only by her devotion to her family.

Leonora’s humility, kindness and generosity were legendary. She would sacrifice her needs for those of others, including strangers. There were many times that strangers, turned up at her gate in Diamond Vale and she rummaged through her pantry to share with them the little that she had. She mastered the art of dividing one mango among her six children and other cousins who might be in the house at the time.

Her life has been an inspiration to her children, grandchildren, nieces, nephews, and others whose lives were touched by her. She was described by one of her sons-in-law as having a bright, magnetic light that you could not miss.

Leonora Garcia was a beacon who had the gift of making each person feel special. God rewarded her with a long, fulfilling life and chose to call her to Him on Good Friday; a most fitting exit from a life lived in the service of God’s people.

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