My earliest memories include hazy visions of your kitchen, the old fashioned metal stove, the cracked, concrete floors, the tortilla and cheese strewed across your table. Your home was a haven to me, a place of love and warmth that transcended almost any other structure on earth. I remember feeling of your goodness from my infancy and yours was the example that taught me the meaning of dignity. You were never rich, you never earned shiny awards at some ivy league college. I'm not even entirely sure how much you could read. But I saw that you were a lady of the first order nevertheless. I remember your generosity, and I saw with my own eyes that you would offer me and anyone who entered your home all the food you had, even if you had literally nothing left for yourself. Your wealth of spirit more than made up for your financial poverty and of all the old women I knew, you were the one I most wanted to emulate.
But I could never tell you these things. I felt shy as a child, surrounded by so many rough adults, speaking so fluently in a language I couldn't even begin to command. I wished so many times I could tell you how much I admired you, but I had never learned the words sufficiently to express my deep appreciation. I tried. When I reached the university I majored in Spanish for no other reason but to be able to speak to my Hispanic family. Still I stumbled and couldn't seem to string the ideas together coherently.
I remember the last time we spoke. You invited me to sit next to you. We were alone in that sweet, beloved kitchen, and you saw that I was no longer the two year old rolling in dirt and chasing the hens about your front yard. You gave me the best advice you had to offer after a long life of attaining, if not worldly applause, then heavenly wisdom. I remember how you felt ashamed of your lack of formal education. Eagerly, I tried to tell you that your intelligence proved higher than that of the many college professors I had known, but alas! My curséd tongue tripped over the Spanish again, and this time for the last time of your mortal probation. I couldn't convey how divine and beautiful you were to me. How much I wanted to show you how special you were, and when you finally passed from this life, terrible circumstances hindered me from even paying respects at your funeral. I have not yet had the blessing of traveling to Mexico to even visit your grave.
But I have a gift that seems as graceful as my Spanish is clumsy, and I offer it to you with all of my heart. It doesn't seem sufficient at first glance, but I pray your patience just a moment longer to allow me to explain. I am well versed in religion and in certain types of mental labor, and through this I gathered the details of your life and took them into a place of light and peace today that I might honor you in the best way I know how. You had no opportunity to be baptized and come into the fold of Jesus Christ in this lifetime, but in the temple my nieces were honored and blessed to take part in doing so on your behalf. There is more, much more, and I will not stop until I have seen all of it complete.
We will go on to do more things to honor you, to express how precious you in God's eyes, and how your spirit will go on and on in glory and joy. You adored your husband and bore fourteen children, and I will see to it that through the temple you will be able to be with them, not just til death do us part but literally forever. During your lifetime, you lost children in devastating and unexpected accidents and illnesses, but I will labor for as long as it takes to ensure you will be with them in an everlasting bond of familial love. I couldn't say thank you sufficiently in your own language but let me show my gratitude in doing all within my power to raise you up and seal you to your loved ones eternally. You gave me a role model in many ways and truly, it is the least I can do.