By Moonyeen King
President of the Board for Tepehua
A Centenarian is a person who lives to or past 100 years. At this time the United States leads with 72,000 at 100 years of age or older. Of which over 82% are women. The oldest recorded was 127. Granma Moses was 101 when she died in the USA. She started her artistic career in her eighties and died world renowned.
Mexico’s Carmen Hernandez Campeñero, has spent the latter part of her 104 years of age in a world of silence. She was born and raised in the same barrio where she raised her children, San Juan, a good-sized village on the road to Mescala. Although she manages to help with preparation of family meals, she has never heard the sound of her great great grandchildren, as ageing took away her ability to hear. The selfless act of a Rotarian from Rotary Ajijic, Ken Koyama, who gave his only spare hearing aid to Carmen last week, has enabled Carmen to chortle with glee as sounds around her become familiar again.
Carmen’s life in the village was a hard one, deserted by her husband and being left to raise seven children alone, plus helping with 53 grandchildren, 72 great grand children, and 33 great great grandchildren. Carmen made a living by growing vegetables and going to market in the small hours of the day to sell the products of her day´s labor. Carmen was also the only one in her family who could read and write, so she wrote for most of the village. The girls of the family stayed home, only the boys went to school, but Carmen learned.
This author had the honour of delivering the hearing aid and showing the caretakers of Carmen how to use it, care for it, and recognize when the battery is dead. The cost of hearing aids is prohibitive for many people. Those who can afford them think that because they are custom made, they are useless to pass on They are mistaken. Please donate to local clinics, or call this author.
Maria Cecilia Soto is a few months from her 100th birthday, after raising 12 children, and enjoying 29 grandchildren, 53 great grandchildren, plus one recent great great grandchild. Maria is still working in the family restaurant, Lety’s in Riberas, helping to prepare the food that is fresh everyday. One of her chores is the cilantro - plucking the delicate herb leaf for flavouring.
Maria walks unaided into the restaurant to work, hears perfectly well, and holds herself tall. Life was a little more generous to Maria than to Carmen, whose back breaking toil in the fields everyday took their toll. Both women are the pride and joy of their families, who treat them with the greatest respect and kindness.
It wasn’t until the gringos retired to Lakeside, that care homes, health insurance etc. were needed. I hope it never catches on in the Mexican family tree. To end life in the hub of a life time of labour, and the fruits from it, is indeed a blessed way to rest in peace.
MOONYEEN PATRICIA KING
Column: Profiling Tepehua
Settled in Mexico 13 years ago. The intention was to retire into the arts as a writer, poet and painter...that didn’t happen. Beneath the smiles of the peoples of Mexico there was such a great need for change, especially for the women and children of the barrios, Moonyeen has dedicated these years to change the face of this little corner of the world. The work done by the volunteers of the Tepehua Community Center is teaching that change is possible anywhere. Moonyeen was portrayed as “Woman of the Year,” also two Paul Harris Rotary awards for the work done at Tepehua. “Life in Mexico is very fulfilling. The Mexican people give so much more to us immigrants than we can possible return.