By Tyler P. Meyeres
GARDNER- Vera Espinoza was born on March 29th, 1951. She is the daughter of Sam and Dominga Aguirre. Vera has four sisters and two brothers still living. She has five children, sixteen grandchildren, and three great-grandchildren.
Vera married her husband at sixteen and her husband was twenty-four, but they knew each other all their lives. They were married for thirty-six, almost thirty-seven years. It would have been more if she hadn′t lost him six and a half years ago to mesothemolma lung cancer. The first year and a half was very hard for her. After that her Catholic faith became very important to her. So she decided to go on pilgrimages with her children and grandchildren to third world countries so they could experience the poverty levels there. The settlement her husband received for his illness gave her these opportunities.
Their first trip was to Kingston, Jamaica where they visited orphanages, people who lived in shacks, and they also were able to feed the poor of Jamaica. Then they went to Chihuahua, Mexico and helped at an orphanage there. Also, she went to Rome. She recently has gotten back from a pilgrimage in Jerusalem. Vera, her children and grandchildren have been going on pilgrimages for five years.
Her children have found it to be a very spiritual experience and it helped them in their spiritual lives. Also they reach out to others who are in need.
After telling this wonderful story, Vera said to me, “All my pilgrimages have been very rewarding to me and my family and those who I come into contact with. I feel very blessed, very thankful for all the experiences God has blessed me with. I wanted to teach my children and grandchildren to reach out especially to the less fortunate. Also growing up in Gardner as I look back, never in my wildest dreams did I ever think I would be able to go all these places.”
I feel very fortunate that I was able to meet Vera and that she shared her personal experiences with me. Maybe we should all be like Vera and help the less fortunate.