Marilyn Alverio/Special to CTLatinoNews.com
Many Latinos in Connecticut may not have known Doña Mercedes Ramos, also known as Mama Mercedes, but we all know her story. It is the story of so many of our Latino families. When you entered her home, you were welcomed with a huge sonrisa (smile) and the all-important question; Ya comiste? Have you already eaten? Her warm and huge heart reminded you of your own Mama. She loved música típica de los dias de ante (music from the old days) and often belted out the words she had memorized over the years. She first came to Connecticut from Puerto Rico in the early 1950’s and worked as a housekeeper until she met her husband Domingo, who had also left the island to work in the tobacco fields in Windsor.
They eventually moved to Hartford where church and family were central in the family’s life. Her son Will Ramos recalls, “She was a woman of great faith, esperanza y amor. We always had a solid base, it was a good foundation, we had church, we had family and we had hope.”
Mildred, one of the three sisters said, ” When I think of my Mom, I think of strength, family, love. I think of what she represents as a Hispanic mother. She did not work outside the home, but I can tell you she worked harder at home than if she had worked outside; she gave 100 percent of herself. She gave unselfishly, unconditionally of herself. ”
Doña Mercedes, 91, passed away last week. She was the matriarch of her family, and they say they were genuinely blessed to have had her in their lives. She was a devoted wife, mother, grandmother, sister, aunt, and friend. Due to Maria’s strong convictions of faith and family, she became an active member of Saint Peter’s Church and Las Senoras de la Milagrosa for many years, as well as becoming the First Madre Ejemplar in 1989.
At home, her family says she was the glue that kept six children, twenty grandchildren, twenty-seven great-grandchildren and three great-great grandchildren together. In addition to Will and Mildred, the Ramos siblings include Hector, Zulma, Sonia and Geraldo.
Throughout the years, as their family grew, she and her late husband were sure to instill in them, ‘orgullo’ (pride) in their culture, language and sense of community. Daughter Mildred adds, “My parents came here to the mainland and left everything they knew behind, but not their culture; they made sure to plant it here in us, their family.”
Born in Orocovis, Puerto Rico, Maria Mercedes Ramos was extraordinary in the way so many of the women and mothers function, in their own quiet but determined way. They are the backbone of our families, who in turn help make our communities stronger. Their special contributions to the Latino community of Connecticut are a lasting legacy. Gracias Maria Mercedes Ramos.