Cover photo for Carmen Centeno's Obituary
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Carmen Centeno

d. January 19, 2024

My Mother’s Eulogy

On January 19th, 2024, after 86 years of life on this beautiful earth that God created, for he decided that it was time to dim my mother’s bright candle. As much as it hurts to lose a parent, the hurt is especially painful when it is the person who gave life to me. God allowed my mother to be born on August 6th, 1937. If my mind serves me correctly, which it hasn’t been working that lately, my mother was the 3rd born of 14 siblings.

At a very young age my grandparents sent her to the Bronx, to live with her oldest brother, who we affectionately call tio Nicky. My mother’s expectation was to go to school. However, it didn’t turn out that way. Instead of school she ended up taking care of my cousins. My uncle introduced her to my father, and they eventually got married. Wow, how lucky he was to land such a beautiful young lady. On November 19th, 1962. Yours truly was born.

Two years later, on October 9th, 1964, my brother Victor was born. Then two years after that my twin brother Oscar was born. Guess on what date? If you guessed November, the 19th you would be correct. The year was 1966. Hence the reason why we are twins. Sort of like Arnold Schwarzenegger and Danny Devito. Oscar is the tall one and I’m the short one.

Finally, our sister, Myrna, was born on July 2nd, 1974. Boy did my mom love her. She was my mother’s little princess. That’s not to say that my mother didn’t love her sons! She truly loved us all. What a great mother she was.

My father was an old school Puerto Rican, you know the kind of man who would only go to work and come home to his dinner. It is sad to say that he didn’t help my mother with anything! He somehow thought that by paying the rent and all the bills, he had no other responsibilities.

There were a couple of instances when my mother physically carried me on her back to take me to the clinic. I gave her such a hard time. I didn’t like doctors or nurses for that matter. Just think that today I’m a nurse! Who would have thought? I would have a fit every time I saw a doctor. I hated needles then and still do to this day. The bottom line is that while my mother was carrying me to the clinic, my dad was just working. I’m sure that she told him how horrible and difficult I was. But he just let her take care of her children all on her own.

If you guys thought that taking me to the clinic was problematic for her; that poor lady met every single principal of every school that I attended. Unlike my mother, my hard-working dad did not show his face once. Don’t get me wrong, I loved my father, he always provided for us and loved us dearly. But the fact of the matter is my poor mother did more for us than he had ever done. Again, I want to make it clear that he was not a bad father but just stubborn and set in his ways.

Mom was always a God fearing and loving person. Her love for God is unconditional, just like the love for her children and grandchildren. She would give her clothes off her back to all of us. Of course, mom was very blunt and would tell anyone just how she felt. Even though her words may have been offensive and hurtful. One thing for sure was that after thinking through what she may have said to offend you, you can expect an apology to come. Nonetheless she loved us! Her words may have alienated many people, including friends, but you all know the old saying “That the Truth Hurts.” And boy does it hurt! Hey, I’m a male version of her, and my words have hurt many people, probably some of you sitting here today. If that is the case, I would like to sincerely apologize to those that I have hurt. I’m sorry and I will do my very best to choose my words wisely when speaking with people.

It is very important to thank my uncle Tio Cheo, for always being there for us as well. My mother always loved the trips to “El Campo.” She looked forward to those days when you would drive from Long Island to the Bronx and pick us up so that we could get away from the city. Those were great times. Not only was it enjoyable for mom, but for us as well. Spending time with you, Tia Daniela and my cousins was amazing. Thank you!!

My mother’s love for her mother, father, brothers and sisters was unwavering. She cherished every minute she spent with them. Just how she cherished her time with her own immediate family. She had a great sense of humor, which must have come from her large family. That great humor has been passed down from generations to generations. Our family could’ve been or maybe still can be famous comedians or stars of our own sitcom show. There have been plenty of times when we were all laughing historically at something that either my mother said, or someone from the family said.

Mom would also love going to the thrift store, she would say to my wife “vamos para el tricky” together they would find great bargains there. She loved to share her money with everyone. She was always a good tipper. She learned to be that way from my father. One thing I can say about her and my father for that matter is that they were not cheap. For living in the projects, we had everything a child dreamt of. From nice clothes and shoes to bicycles. We also ate pretty good. Thanks to God.

Talking about bicycles, there is a reason why we should obey our parents. I remember asking my mother on a frigid day if I could go outside to ride my bike. She told me no, not only is it cold outside, but if you take your bike out it will get stolen. Of course, being the hardheaded disrespectful kid that I was. I did not listen to her and took my back outside. Lord and behold, I don’t think that I was outside for more than 30 minutes when I got my bike stolen from me. I gave those thieves a huge fight, but in the end, they stole my bike. Upstairs I went crying like a baby without my bike. My mother said to me “that’s what happened for being disrespectful and not listening to me.”

I wish that I could say that was the only time that I didn’t listen to my mother. But if I did, that would be a boldfaced lie.

At the very young age of 17, I decided to join the Army. I remember going home and asking my parents to sign my enlistment contract. They had to because I was still only a boy. My mother began crying historically and refused to sign the paper. Somehow my father and I convinced her to sign. About a month after she signed my enlistment contract, I left for basic training. Vietnam had ended about 4 years prior to my enlistment. In hindsight I understood why my mother was so against me joining the army. Poor mother must’ve suffered to hear that her little boy wanted to enlist in the army. I know that it’s too late, but I’m sorry for causing you such pain.

Thanks to God and my mother signing my enlistment, I was able to leave the Bronx and become the person that I am today! Like mostly every brown and black man living in the Bronx I could have been dead or in jail. But instead, I’m still alive with a beautiful wife and family. Not to mention a great career! This couldn’t have been possible if it weren’t for you mom!!

Throughout your life you have proven to me that your love for me was truly unconditional from you almost dying when giving birth to me. I was born feet first and she almost died. Putting up with my nonsense, carrying me on your back, meeting every single principal, defending me every time I had a fight, the heated arguments that we’ve had, signing my enlistment, losing me to another Carmen, again at only 17 years old. I can keep on and on, but it would take a lifetime. Finally, when I recently went to the hospital to visit you the nurse told me that you had not woken up for anyone all day. When I said Mom I’m here, and you opened up your eyes really wide and tried to talk. The nurse said “you must be her mama’s boy” because she had not opened her eyes up for anyone today. If that’s not a mother’s unconditional love, then I don’t know what is!

Mom, you lived a long time. I know that you were a fighter, and that if it were up to you, you would live for another 86 years. Unfortunately, God decided it was time for you to depart this earth. You are now resting and waiting for the day that our lord will call you into his kingdom. We will miss you dearly, but I know, we all know that the candle that God dimmed will once again glow brightly like a heavenly star!!!

Thank you, God, for giving me such a great mother!! As sad as we all are today, I know that our great lord has a special place for you in his glorious kingdom. In God’s name all those that you have loved and loved you will see you in his kingdom.

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Past Services

Visitation Watch × Carmen Centeno Central Islip 1/23/24 2PM from Moloney Live Stream on Vimeo. Carmen Centeno Central Islip 1/23/24 7PM from Moloney Live Stream on Vimeo.

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