|Eloisa Alire Saenz (1929-2012)|
Ben Saenz' mother Eloisa died Tuesday, February 21st. She was almost 83. Lee and I got to know her when she would come to readings to hear Ben perform and especially to those special times when Ben was receiving an award. Afterwards we would sometimes have a lunch or dinner. Also, once when Ben was in the hospital, we got to sit, talk and laugh with her and husband Juan. She was fun to be around. I could make jokes about Ben and she would giggle, but I could tell that she was strong and steadfast in her love for her son. Indeed, for all of her children. I asked Ben to send along a photograph of his mom for the blog, plus the obituary that will appear in the Las Cruces Sun News. For those of you who are friends here in El Paso or Las Cruces, a rosary for Eloise will be at the Immaculate Heart of Mary Cathedral in Las Cruces (Espina and Idaho) on Sunday night, 6pm; and then Monday morning 10am, for the funeral services.
Ben writes about his mother and his family in his poetry--all books which I highly recommend, those from Cinco Puntos and those from Copper Canyon Press. And I think Eloisa is always informing his other work, especially his illustrated children's books which speak so warmly about the importance of family.
It's one of the great joys of independent publishing to become good friends with the writers we publish. Ben's friendship to Lee and me, and his loyalty to Cinco Puntos, are ingredients of our lives that we cherish. For Eloisa, may she rest in peace. And blessings to Ben and his family.
Eloisa Alire Saenz, faithful servant of God, passed from this world on the morning of February 21st, 2012. She was born in Old Picacho, New Mexico on May 21, 1929 to Teresa and Ventura Alire. She was a devout Catholic throughout her life and served as a lector and communion minister at Immaculate Heart of Mary Cathedral for many years. She also served her community by being an active member of the Catholic Daughters, an organization she cherished. She faithfully devoted herself to prayer and weekly knelt before the Blessed Sacrament. She was preceded in death by her parents, Teresa Chavez Alire and Ventura Alire, her husband, Juan Villanueva Saenz, her son, Donaciano Sanchez, and her granddaughter, Amy Houser. She is survived by the children she raised and loved: Linda Paredes and her husband Mark, Ricardo Saenz and his wife, Nancy, Benjamin Saenz, Gloria Woods and her husband Anthony, Jaime Saenz, and Jose Saenz and his partner Therassa Crunk. She is also survived by the grandchildren she adored and who adored her in return: Amanda Paredes, Roberto Saenz, Cynthia Woods, Mark Woods, John Frederick Paredes, Ivana Saenz, and Isel Saenz. She is also survived by five great grandchildren, Isaiah Gonzalez, Mariah Woods, Jai Paredes, Arika Fulton, and Christian Woods. She also leaves behind three surviving sisters: Luisa Matsuba, Erminia Montoya, and Esperanza Terrazas, and her brother-in-law, Frank Saenz and his wife Sylvia, her Godson, Justin Atma, and numerous nephews and nieces.
Eloisa was a woman who was greatly loved and respected. She was humble, generous, intelligent, forgiving, and kind. In her house, there was always room at the inn and she greeted friend and stranger alike with a ready smile and it was in her nature to help others in need. She loved to talk and laugh, and was, among other things, a fantastic cook. Throughout her life she gave great comfort to all those who surrounded her by nourishing them with her wisdom, her warmth, and the food she cooked. Her kitchen was the most sacred of places. For many years, she worked as a cook and housekeeper at Immaculate Heart of Mary Cathedral and at Our Lady of Health Catholic Church. She cared for her husband, Juan through his illness, and she bore her losses and sufferings with a rare and uncommon grace. Despite all the difficulties she encountered, she never despaired, never lost her deep and profound faith that was an example to everyone who ever had the privilege of knowing and loving her. In the end, she wished to go and be with her God, with her beloved mother, with the husband that she lost eight years ago, and with Amy, the granddaughter she lost so tragically. She will live on in this world in the hearts of all the people she touched and loved.