Thursday, July 17

Remembering Rosie


Two years ago today my mentor and dear friend passed away from breast cancer. Dr. Rosario Caminero was my graduate school Spanish professor whom I had met two years before starting grad school when I worked in the Foreign Languages Department as an assistant. I got to know her very well working there and by the time I got my B.A. and signed up for her grad courses, I already had a tremendous respect for her. Her knowledge of Spanish linguistics and composition was vast and her classes were always upbeat and interesting. I looked forward to those intensive graduate classes-five days a week- and even the compositions, because she was the professor. I learned more from her in two years than I had in the four previous years- she was that incredible.


Cuban-born and bred, she had the most wonderful accent in English and in Spanish. Dr. Rosie, as I called her because I respected her too much to call her by her first name as she asked, dressed with panache. She always wore a brightly colored dress or skirt to teach or a beautiful pantsuit, and never without stylish shoes. She walked with a clip and always seemed to be in motion, talking with her hands- her Spanish and English coming out rapid fire. She smelled of Giorgio perfume, a scent I liked so much I bought it myself but it didn't smell the same on me. Simply put, she was my guru, my mentor, my inspiration to become a teacher, for when I first met her I was not a teaching major- I was set to graduate with a B.A. in Spanish which did not qualify me to teach- I needed a B.S.Ed.

I began the graduate program immediately after I graduated so I could become certified to teach. Still unsure of my decision after many mornings full of pedagogy classes, my future as a Spanish teacher eventually fell into place in the afternoons in her classroom. Her love for teaching, her patience and her passion were all qualities I wanted to emulate. She made teaching look fun, enjoyable and dare I saw... rewarding! I wanted my students to enjoy my classes as much as I enjoyed hers. She counseled me on boyfriend troubles, family situations and taught me what it took to be a great teacher. She was my surrogate mom.

Rosie lost her battle with breast cancer on July 17, 2006. The only time I have felt as sad as I did that day was when my grandparents passed away. I am grateful for having had her in my life to inspire me, to guide me and to be there for me to try to emulate. Her stylish pumps are way too big to fill but she is always present for me to look to as an example. And I will never forget the advice she gave me on my wedding day, which I am so happy was caught on videotape: "Claudia, acuérdate quién es la jefa." ("Claudia, remember who is the boss"- she used the feminine form to mean me.)

Rest In Peace, Dr. Rosie

4 comments:

sunemai said...

I found your blog yesterday while searching for information on Virgin Mary (you mention Madonna/Madon as an interjection in one of your posts). I realized quite quickly that your blog wasn't what I was looking for but I still kept reading. There's something in the way you write that makes reading the words a pleasant experience.

I'm sorry to hear of Dr. Caminero's passing. It's obvious that she meant much to you. She seems the kind of teacher I always dreamt of having. A teacher who bothers to care for more than how well the students have done the homework is a true gem and you have been lucky to know her. Judging by your post, the lives of hundreds students would have been poorer if teaching hadn't been her calling. I'm sure she would have been touched by you still remembering her and being able to write such a moving text on her after two years. It's clear that she hasn't been forgotten and the text conveys the feeling greatly.

I particularly like your text's structure. It goes straight to the point by introducing her and explaining who is was. Starting the next paragraph by describing her clothing and then linking it with the perfume to your attitude towards her awed me. In those few blogs I have read I have never found such skill with words and writing in general that in that one paragraph. Then going to what kind of influence she had on your life and ending by returning to her death makes the post very thorough but not too long. Sealing it with her words you find important enhances the emotionality of the text.

I do not know what I'm trying to do by writing this. I'm not in any position to offer any kind of comment and I understand that such a subject is likely the last one that you want a total stranger's opinion on and that my comment might come on as tasteless. Just something in your post on Dr. Caminero and in your general writing style touched me. I'm even now struggling not to cry. For a woman I never knew. Because of a text written by someone I don't know either.

I wish you everything good and apologize for anything in this comment that could have been insulting, since nothing in it was intended so.

Sigi Me said...

Thank you for your lovely comments. There is nothing insulting in what you wrote, and I am touched you took the time to write to me.

Claudia

Mary Ann said...

Claudia, this is Mary Ann, 'Dr. Rosie's' daughter. I just found your blog (sometimes when I really miss my mom I google her) and I was so moved by your description of my mom as well as your relationship with her. You literally made me cry and laugh outloud with your heartfelt words. I cant tell you how much it meant to me. I just want to say thank you.

Mary Ann (Caminero) Cucuzza

Mary Ann said...

Claudia, this is Mary Ann, 'Dr. Rosie's' daughter. I just found your blog (sometimes when I really miss my mom I google her) and I was so moved by your description of my mom as well as your relationship with her. You literally made me cry and laugh outloud with your heartfelt words. I cant tell you how much it meant to me. I just want to say thank you.

Mary Ann (Caminero) Cucuzza