She was born as Christina Louise Mescal on Saturday, April 13, 1940 in Albany, New York to Mildred Leela and Darwin Mescal. She died at her home in Frederick, Maryland as Christina Louise Lundy on Monday morning, October 10, 2022. But she was better known as Mom, Grammy, Chris, Cuz, Tia Chris, Aunt Chris and Nurse. Somewhere in between, she’s had a time as Cristina Luiz Pazos, and the good thing he or her two children, Javier Felipe Pazos (who she called Jah-Bear) and Christina Maria Pazos (who she always called Titi) won’t be knocking, nor her only grandson , 13-year-old Rafael Darwin Buzos (whom I named Radar).
Her family and those who left an indelible mark on their lives were much more. There’s her younger brother Peter Mescal of Haverhill, Massachusetts, her niece and nieces from Mescal, a good bunch of cousins (a special cry for Meg and Laurie who have become her primary tribe over the past two decades) and the family of ‘Buzos’ who married her, who embraced her and never let her go ( Yes, you can divorce the husband, but you can keep the rest of the family).
She lived in many different places throughout her wonderful nomadic life – first because her father was a regional salesman who moved a bit and then later because she liked new adventures. In the 1950s, she lived in Elkton, Maryland. Elkton wasn’t a particularly socially progressive place at the time, but it always has been. She told a story about a time when, as a young girl, she went to buy a magazine with Harry Belafonte on its cover (she was a little impressed) – the woman behind the counter advised her it was a “colorful” magazine” to People. She grabbed the magazine from the table, slammed the money and told the woman she had the money and could Buy what you want.I remembered that racism is stupid as an epiphany moment.
From Elkton, she moved to Wilmington, Delaware to attend and graduated from Ursuline Academy High School in 1957. She attended St. Joseph’s College in Maine, graduating in 1961 with a BA in English. During her college years she worked on her first political campaign – for JFK. She taught English at the Sorbonne in Paris for a year, slipped through Europe, lived in Surrey, England working as a husband to Au and spent the summer of 1962 in Lüsdal, Sweden only to see the midnight sun.
Her first career was in education and linguistics. She loved language and languages (profanity is no exception). In addition to the French she was fluent in and taught, she taught herself Spanish (when she married into a Cuban family, so she could understand her in-laws), Italian for kicks, Japanese to read engravings about art and start with in the late 1960s, Mandarin Chinese because – well, because she didn’t lose her thirst To learn more. She loved learning, was surrounded by books and had an insatiable curiosity about many topics – history, art, diverse cultures, nature, animals, languages, archaeology, genealogy and certainly nothing to do with technology.
Her second professional career was raising her two children in Claymont, Delaware. She did so with commitment and flair (including a non-casual flair for her temper). She was the driver who took her kids everywhere, made handmade Halloween costumes (the guy loved Halloween), and made frequent trips to see family in Maine, Maryland, Colorado, and even Venezuela. And she went on to be a teacher—inspiring and teaching her children in so many small ways—fossil digging, rubbing in ancient tombs and correcting poor grammar (every time). She was raised in a New England style of stoicism where cute things like “I love you” are rarely spoken, but she showed her great love and devotion to her children (and later to her grandson) through her actions.
It was her third career as a registered nurse, and she went back to school in her forties to get her degree and certificate. She worked for five years as a mobile nurse, and took the opportunity to fuel her love of travel and adventure. She lived in fun places like Charleston, South Carolina, New Orleans, Florida and her very favorite, Hobby Reserve east of the Grand Canyon where she fell in love with Native American culture. She spent more than 20 years as a nurse before retiring in 2009 in Hollywood, Florida.
Kids who have grown up and then retirement have given her time to delve deeper into the rabbit holes of some of her interests – art, travel, politics, and genealogy. Her art collection grew to fill all the empty spaces on her walls – not expensive art, but art she loved and art that had a story – the places she was in, the cultures she loved or simply the raw beauty or truth she saw in our world and her people. She has traveled all over the United States, to Europe, the Caribbean, Central America, New Zealand and Asia. She worked on local and national political campaigns, and became a key member of her Democratic political group in Hollywood, Florida. And she spent countless hours tracing the roots of her family’s history (and that of family friends) to leave her children and grandson with a mature family tree in full bloom so they better understand the paths of history that led to their unexpected survival on this. Earth.
For anyone who knows her or has met her, you’ll notice a stark omission from the brief summary above of her very busy 82 years – her pets. From the first 8mm film footage her father shot until her final days, she could always be found in the company of her pets. There has always been a cat or a dog, sometimes a cat and a dog and sometimes one or both in the plural. Along the way there was a pig, some fish, mice and rabbits. Once she moved to Florida to be closer to her daughter in the ’90s, the real fun began. Her daughter shared her enduring love for animals and generously saved many – mostly dogs. But a busy work and travel schedule makes a poor doggy home, so my mom got to “look after” dogs, cats, and rabbits (sometimes as many as 6 or 7 animals at a time). She complained (rightfully) about the burden imposed on her, but she never refused a pet. Once she accepted a pet into her family, there was none of them. No matter how stupid and useless she was (for example, Dexter), she loved her pets and they owned them – it was a very easy task. On the day she died in her house, there were two dogs, two cats, and a rabbit living with her–none of them did, but they are all a family who filled her final years with purpose, humor, love, and lots of fur.
If this paints a picture of a passionate, sweet, or idealistic woman, take it with a grain of salt. This was written by her daughter who grieves her mother deeply. It would have been better to write it a year before she got sick or a year from now. My mom was far from perfect and our very close and committed relationship included a lot of swearing, grumbling, control issues, worries about politics, money, animals or anything and everything. Her interview was a tried and true pessimist. However it was not. Because beneath this surface was a woman who was strong, independent, brave, passionate, loyal, and hopeful who was honest and generous with her core.
My mom has been making regular donations to Saint Labri’s Indian School in Montana for decades. I always assumed it had something to do with the time she spent on the Hopi Reservation – that she was somehow connected with them during that experience. In recent months, she’s spent more time recounting some of the ancestral discoveries she made while building our family tree, going back hundreds of years—or perhaps even more time listening. One of our ancestors was a real rotten apple that participated in atrocities against Native Americans. My mother wanted to make some small reparations for the sins of her long-deceased ancestor, and she looked for a school to support her. My mom is a graduate of Ursuline Academy and Found Saint Labri, established by Ursuline Nuns in 1884. It is a wonderful school that lifts children and families out of poverty, provides them with a brighter future and has quietly supported them to thousands of dollars just because she felt it was the right thing to do. It is an excellent example of her intrinsic decency and why, no matter what bickering we did, she always was and always will be my moral compass. I haven’t said it enough, but I love you so much and will miss you so much, Mom.
In lieu of flowers, please consider donating her memory to St. Labre Indian School (stlabre.org/) or to Frederick Health Hospice (frederickhealthhospice.org) allowing the mother to spend her last weeks at home with her family.
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