SAN FRANCISCO — Some stories are very personal, and as we continue to celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month, I wanted to shine a light on someone very special.
Her life was emblematic of the Latino experience in the Bay Area. Her name is Maria Falcon and she is my grandmother.
She was born in Texas in 1915, to a family that migrated from Burgos Tamaulipas, Mexico. Eventually she married and moved to Northern California, where she spent many years in the South Bay — Morgan Hill and San Jose — caring for her family, while her husband worked the fields like so many in their community.
She lived through The Spanish Flu, Two World Wars, the Civil Rights Movement, and the COVID pandemic. Not to mention all of the changes in technology which she embraced as it kept her connected during the times, we were all apart. While the world around her changed, one thing never did. Her love and devotion to her family.
If you ever met Maria, she would instantly take you in, feed you of course, and always ask, “que necesitas” what do you need?
Always offering love and support no matter what. You would always leave her home with a full belly and a feeling of being cared for.
She would always stand at the door and wave goodbye with these words “Que Dios te Bendiga,” asking God to watch over you.
Eventually Maria moved to San Diego where she would become a “Gudalupana”, a role of service through her Catholic church.
In1987 she was recognized by Pope John Paul II with an invitation to receive communion at his service in Los Angeles. He also gave her a medal of honor for her service to the community.
Maria celebrated 106 birthdays, before she died peacefully in December of 2021. Each year we celebrated her, with food, love and music. Fiestas, where she was surrounded by generations of love, children, grandchildren, great grandchildren and great-great grandchildren.
We always asked her what her secret was to a long, healthy life and she would give the same answer every time. “El amor que tengo para toda mi familia” Love for her family.
I wanted you to meet Maria, mi Abuelita, because she is the person who taught me about family and how it means so much more than being bound by blood, it means community, and to be there for others.
So as we celebrate Hispanic heritage, I wanted to share a small piece of her story. Not because I am so proud of her, but because she truly represents so many Latinos, hardworking and rooted in community, faith, and most of all family. She believed in this world, the people in it, and that we are all “Una Familia”
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