Why Maria crossed over

One family's binational life

Last summer I was invited by a hospice chaplain to accompany him on a visit to the family of Maria Durand de Perez, a Mexican woman who had died a few weeks earlier in the border town of San Ysidro, California, at the astonishing age of 111. Knowing that I had once worked as the pastor of a Spanish-language church, the chaplain, whose name is Andy, thought that my presence might prove helpful to Angela, Maria’s 78-year-old daughter, who was mourning the loss of her mother deeply.

In his previous visits, Andy, who spoke only English, and Angela, who spoke only Spanish, had depended for translation on Yrma, Angela’s bilingual daughter and the owner of the San Ysidro home. Andy suspected (rightly, it turned out) that Angela was longing to have a more in-depth conversation about her mother’s remarkable life.


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