Don Manuel and Grandfather Cyril Taylor

Don Manuel (left) and Grandfather Cyril (Right)

This year we have lost 2 of our great spiritual leaders, Grandfather Cyril Taylor, Carib, in July, and Don Ángel Manuel Galagarza, Boricua, this past Sunday, December 13. When we lose an elder, we lose an encyclopedia of knowledge as well as their wisdom and strength for our community.

I had the privilege of accompanying the two Grandfathers, Grandmother Naniki Reyes Ocasio and Don Manuel's great grandson to Caguana in 2003. For Don Manuel, it was like returning home. He was warmly received by the staff who knew him well from his many visits there. His walk was a bit slow, but his eyes glowed with excitement and joy at being in a place he loved. Grandfather Cyril had never been to Caguana and he too felt like he was returning home. As we stood in the middle of the batey, it was like time and the world stood still as we prayed to the ancestors who we felt all around us. A normally crowded Caguana became silent and only held us it its loving embrace.

We returned to Don Manuel's house and enjoyed a relaxing day with the two grandfathers who seemed like they knew each other their whole lives instead of having just met.

They will be sorely missed.

Oma bajari beira arocoeles (with respect and in the spirit of our grandfathers)

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