“Paciencia y Fe. Patience and Faith.”

Abuela Claudia
In the Heights

This weekend was the final performances for “In The Heights.” The last time on this “street corner.” The last time on my bench. The last time on this set. The last time to meld voices with such fabulous performers.


What a transformative experience! How thankful I am to have been a part of something bigger than myself.

Being with R-S Theatrics and bringing “In The Heights” to theatre goers in St. Louis has been a rewarding, thought-provoking, joy-filled, music-filled and a simply amazing adventure. Something the likes of which I have never experienced. The magnitude, I can honestly say, I didn’t anticipate.

This is the dream role I never knew I always wanted.

Our brilliant director had such a vision for this role within this musical that I don’t believe even the originators knew how great it could be. Moving. Emotional. Powerful. Magic.

Abuela Claudia suddenly became the catalyst to the story. Larger than life, it seems. Especially when you see the portrait the graffiti artist, Bryan Pease, painted of Abuela!

And, I was blessed to be portraying her.

Yet, I began to panic…I couldn’t “find” her. I couldn’t find Abuela’s voice.

We had rehearsals. I sang and recited the lines of the script. Blocking. Continued rehearsals. Where is she? I started to worry that I wouldn’t find her voice.

We entered tech week. Finding costumes. Listening to the pit musicians. Where IS she?

This character, the heart of the story – where is she?

I voiced my concern to our director. She told me she wasn’t worried. Said she was confident I’d have her when all the elements came together as we hit the stage.

God bless that woman!

My mother has a gold necklace that her mother gave to her. It has the image of the Sacred Heart on it. Many years ago we had my mom’s name engraved on the back to make it more her own. She gave me the necklace a couple of years ago and I wore it with pride. When my sister was diagnosed with cancer I took it off in the hospital room and gave it to her as a talisman to carry her through treatment.

My sister passed away. And, the necklace was returned to my mom. It was placed in a drawer.

The main song that Abuela Claudia sings is “Paciencia y Fe,” patience and faith. It was with Paciencia y Fe that my grandmother gave it to my mom. I imagine her giving it to my mother as she prepared to leave her home in Puebla, Mexico to move to St. Louis, Missouri with my dad.

It was with Paciencia y Fe that my mom gave it to me when I began to have serious health issues and it was with Paciencia y Fe that I gave it to my sister.

I asked my mom if I could have it back. Figured it would make a great addition to my costume.

The first night I put it on, along with a rosary bracelet my mom likes to wear, everything changed.
Abuela suddenly became every woman I know in my family. My grandmother. My great-aunt. My mother. My sister.

And, I found her. I found Abuela Claudia. I found the giving, caring, nurturing woman that is every one of the women in my family. That, I am sure is every woman in each of our families.

How fortunate am I to have such strong women in my family? How fortunate am I to have played such a loving character? How fortunate to have been given the opportunity to give her a voice! Here, today, now.

I may have put Claudia behind me as we closed the show the past weekend, but the necklace is still around my neck.

As I now reminisce and reflect on the past three weeks I say, “Alabanza!”

Alabanza! I lift this experience up to God’s face and sing…

“Praise to THIS!”

Carmen Garcia writes about stuff… life as a single mother, dating, weight loss, performing, and other random experiences. Sometimes it makes sense. Other times, not so much. You decide.

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