She graced this earth for 99 years, 6 months, 15 days. Born on May 18, 1920, Felisa Gachalian Madrigal—Nanay to her children and Nanay Madrigal to those of us to whom she extended her embrace—finished her journey on this earth on December 3, 2019.
Our first thought was she lived a long life. But, in her words, as reported by her daughter Susie, she had a “good life.”
And that she did.
Just watching the slide show and looking at the pictures at her memorial service, anyone could see the fruit of her good life. She was surrounded by smiling faces. Yes, one could say everyone was smiling because a picture was being taken. But my family and I were in some of those pictures. And I remember very well that we weren’t just smiling for the camera. Being with Nanay Madrigal and her family made us happy.
Thinking about the early years of our friendship with the Madrigals brings back so many happy times. We were together for birthdays and weddings. And many times we were invited to their home in Chesapeake for no other reason but to be together.
When marriage and work sent Nene, Pete, and Susie, the youngest of the children, to other locations, the Madrigals would still invite us to Nanay’s birthday parties. Last year, we were honored to join the family for the celebration of her 98th birthday.
The theme of her memorial service was “love and laughter.” Those were the memories her children and grandchildren had of her home. Anyone who entered her home experienced the same thing. And food. I remember Nanay Madrigal’s empanada and atchara. The only atchara I really liked was Nanay’s.
A family filled with “love and laughter” is how I would describe the Madrigals. So it was hard to see the sadness on their faces as they prepared to lay their precious Nanay and Lola to rest.
Psalm 90:10 (NIV) states that “our days may come to seventy years, or eighty, if our strength endures.” And yet, Nanay Madrigal lived one hundred and sixty-eight days short of 100 years. Yahweh gave her extra time on this earth to bless her family and friends with her generosity of caring and love. The Asercion family, collective, have been among those who experienced that blessing for more than forty of those years.
For as long as our family has known Nanay Madrigal, she was always surrounded by those who loved her. But it really isn’t too hard to understand why. She overflowed with love.
“Her children arise and call her blessed…” (Proverbs 31: 28, NIV).
On behalf of my family, I want to thank the Madrigal family for sharing their Nanay with us. And for allowing us the opportunity throughout the years to let her know how much we love and appreciate her. May all your wonderful memories and the hope of life eternal bring you comfort.
Nanay Madrigal, you absolutely did have a good life. Thank you for letting us be a part of it.