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Adios, Mary Carmen

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  Patty Tiscareño   4 min read 8 years ago

Adios, Mary Carmen

The list of my generation of rock stars who have recently died is staggering and quite frankly, more distressing than I would have thought.

BB King and Percy Sledge have left us stranded on the dock of the bay contemplating if, indeed, the thrill has gone. And if it has, we have Lesley Gore’s permission to continue to cry, if we want to.

We mourned the loss of our own, briefly psychedelic youth in the deaths of Dallas Taylor, drummer for Crosby Stills and Nash and epic guitarist Paul Kantner of the Jefferson Airplane who defined an entire generation through a little concert called Woodstock.

Losing Glenn Frey of the Eagles was just plain personal. I don’t know many who don’t know all the words to “Take it Easy” and “Desperado”?

Although we don't know these iconic performers personally, many of us feel a deep sense of connection to them nonetheless.While we grieve them, we'll mourn for the little piece of ourselves that's been lost, too.

It has become a tradition in our household to honor our favorite ‘rock stars’ by inviting them to join us for kitchen dinner. When drummer Mitch Mitchell died, we cranked up the Bose to capacity and rocked out to Jimi Hendrix’s “Are you Experienced?”

We got up and danced to “She Came in Through the Bathroom Window” in tribute to the incomparable Joe Cocker in celebration of his inarticulate, although stirring, renditions. We turned it down considerably for an offering of Tony Bennett singing “Let’s Fall in Love” accompanied by pianist extraordinaire, Ralph Sharon in his memory.

Just our way of mourning artists who helped us know ourselves.

This week, El Paso lost one of our own “rock stars” in the death of 59 year-old Mary Carmen Gonzalez. A petite, pistol of a woman, Mary Carmen first came to the attention of the Rio Grande Cancer Foundation family in 2001, when the foundation funded her position at the University Breast Care Center as a breast patient navigator.

At the time, Mary Carmen was a newly diagnosed breast cancer patient and was able to take the glimpse of her own experience and see the parts reflected back in others. She gave so many, largely Hispanic, women permission to be themselves; to share thoughts and confidences they could not otherwise express.

She was a powerhouse in a compact; the epitome of the expression “good things come in small packages”. She formed support groups, counseled individuals, attended community cancer meetings, raised money and awareness about the importance of mammograms. She was in perpetual motion; her own energy drink packed with enthusiasm and encouragement.

Her dear friend, Martha Silva of the American Cancer Society recalls that Mary Carmen was primarily concerned with the wellbeing of others; even as she struggled through her own 15 year journey with cancer.

“She was so hospitable; even during her illness, it was all about others,” she added.

The people at Yoplait yogurt selected her in 2005 as one of their 25 Champions; individuals doing extraordinary things in the fight against breast cancer. She was every bit a rock star; glammed up and easily conversant during her appearance on “The View”. There was El Paso’s own, hanging with Barbara, Whoopee and all the gals; preaching breast health awareness.

Mary Carmen died on February 13, 2016. Her Facebook profile page shows her resplendent in a pink tie-dyed shirt with a pink, oversized bra worn over it, holding a sign proclaiming “Rock Out with your Bra Out!”

On Monday evening, we held kitchen dinner and musical tribute to honor rock star, Mary Carmen Gonzalez. I chose Willie Nelson’s 1978 “Stardust” album. It is an album of American standards, ranked 257 on the Rolling Stone magazines’ list of the 500 greatest albums of all time.

Seemed only fitting for a classic. Adieu, Mary Carmen.

Patty Tiscareño
Executive Director
Rio Grande Cancer Foundation

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