Elsa Quirino Ballesteros

It was just five months ago when a drastic turning point in my life happened when God finally called my dear wife Elsa home to be with Him and granted her, her eternal rest from the illness that plagued her, yet endured, for the last 19 years of her life. Although her cancer had always presented the real threat with her mortality, she was still temporarily allowed to overcome this disease and lived a very meaningful life but her fight to survive only prolonged the inevitable consequence. I hold on with the faith that Elsa is deservingly enjoying God’s promise of eternal happiness, free from the pain and suffering she went through while here on earth. She touched many lives with her goodness, purity, sincerity, and unselfish love for others which came so naturally for her to impart. As remembrance and was the soloist in the choir “Sundaze” from the early 70’s, all songs tonight were specifically chosen when Elsa sang them here at Our Lady of Lourdes Parish during the 7:00 pm Sunday masses.

I thank everyone here tonight for your love, affection, and respect for her, for honouring her wonderful life, and to everyone who gave your love back to Elsa and are grateful for her existence. Thank you to all the people who were involved and organized this memorial mass for her and made this heartwarming event possible. Thanks to Elsa's close friends and the choir group for extending your welcome and friendship to me over the years. We both are truly grateful!

Today would hav
e been our 29th wedding anniversary and I feel so fortunate and privileged that I was even allowed to share my life with her, for the wonderful time we had together, to love and to care, and to be the proud husband of such a beautiful and wonderful woman that I have ever known. Time does fly when you’re having fun, and our marriage was that - it was fun, memorable, and irreplaceable. We loved, admired, respected, trusted, and inspired each other. Her spirit, essence, and her memory will be cherished and will forever stay with me.

With all my love!

  1. -Marc

A Tribute to a very Dear Friend

by Val Mapé

We all shared the good life that Elsa enjoyed, as well as the cross that she endured before God took her into His custody; and we all have lost loved ones!  While our loss is irreversible and traumatic, there is cause to not hibernate in gloom and doom; we should rejoice in that it is also a blessed event.  Why,
because it is God’s way of relieving us from our anguish and anxiety.  Our life is a journey and Elsa began her journey not after her last breath but with her first when the Holy Spirit sanctified her.  Her last breath set up the second phase of her journey, but it was her unwavering faith in God that energized the wheels of transition as set up in God’s timetable, not in Elsa’s.  And that journey from birth and until she breathed last into her everlasting life, my friends, is what and why we are here tonight!

I don’t think I looked defeated but Elsa never failed to ask me: “is everything alright or, are you okay?” each time we see each other.  I was not the only beneficiary of her warm and comforting heart; cats and dogs also found the kindness in her heart and warmth in her house as sanctuaries.  The word apparently spread out into the neighbourhood because more stray cats also found safe haven with her.  Did you know that each of her cats had separate shoebox-type of condo housing inside the house that Marc lovingly built for her cats?  And Elsa could identify each of all 13 of them and call them by the pet names she christened them with! Incredible you might say, but then she was a truly remarkable woman!

When we visited Marc and Elsa, which sadly were not often enough, we left richer with fond memories and more of her thoughtfulness.  We took home home-cooked food or home-grown plants, which they
also brought with them whenever they visited us.  Among other things, Elsa was gifted with green thumbs.  Her backyard was like the Amazon rain forest; abound with healthy green plant flowers and vegetables.  No doubt her being able to sing to them did not hurt.  Jean, bless her heart, loves music but can’t sing as good; and it’s no wonder why even the plastic plants wilt in her care, even in winter.  But she’s always perfect in my book.

We wish Jean and I were musically endowed because Jean is a music addict.  Our shelves are stacked with countless CD’s & DVD’s and what have you, which she began collecting 45 years ago.  However, in spite of being musically challenged, we ended up in Lee’s church choir only because we were so damn cute.  Jean is still is but please be kind enough not to ask what happened to me.  As we all know, Elsa was a consummate singer.  She was the soloist; but there were times when someone would grab the spotlight, do the solo, albeit unintentionally; I won’t name names, but I still love her gems of perfect imperfections.

Maybe it was just me who thought so, and I say this with the utmost respect and admiration for her; my personal observation was that she was always transparent, and never sugar-coated a word she said; a straight shooter, no smokes and mirrors or curves; simply straight from the heart!  Her words were framed in youthful innocence, tempered with a sweet tint of naivety.  This was her honest nature that just oozed out of her absent any shade of malice.  This trait was innate with her and like her other wonderful qualities, it was unrehearsed and totally spontaneous.

Elsa was also a good judge of character.  Perfect proof of that was she married Marc and had all of you for her friends.  No pun intended!  Anyway, I would never forget that one time when I wondered why Elsa was nodding her head repeatedly while intensely watching me helped clean up the mess after our bowling party; the answer was revealed to me later; I became our bowling league’s statistician!  I took her judgment of my skill as a compliment of my janitorial skill by stretching cleanliness to mean godliness, and performed to the best of my sanitation expertise.  It also gave me the chance to play a plastic surgeon, restructuring the figures a few times.  Not true!  I had my secretary do it.

What we saw in Elsa at Mt. Sinai Hospital validated her authenticity:  Jean and I visited the hospital several days before she passed away.  The lovely Lady Miriam was also there, and so was Marc, of course!  Elsa was propped up a bit in her bed, was all smiles upon seeing us.  There was warmth in her room as we all hu
gged.  We reminisced the past a wee bit, even had a few good laughs.  True to form, Elsa bravely hid her pain to keep the joyful atmosphere convivial.  Even as she oftentimes grimaced, she expressed her sadness over the news that Sylvia and I are having cancer issues.  As we got close to her with a hug, Elsa sighed heavily and, in her low and soft monotone, uttered comforting and uplifting words of “I’m praying for you and Sylvia” that “it will be okay”, again thoughtful and comforting!  Jean and I sobbed, unable to hold the flow of our tears as we left the hospital with a heavy heart and a most fearful foreboding that became an ugly reality several days later when God took her off her suffering and direct into His loving care.

It won’t be an exaggeration to describe Elsa as brave, a martyr, a survivor, endearing, humble, unassuming, warm, kind, thoughtful, loving, comforting, caring, God-fearing, a consummate singer, never self-centered and above all, a truly authentic friend ... all wrapped around her wonderful personality;  Elsa, you were truly one of a kind!  Your passing left a hole in our hearts that would remain unfilled ad infinitum.  We love you and pray for the continued repose of your soul.  We pledge to you that we will always be around for Marc!

Speaking about Marc, it was on May the 16th that Marc and Elsa began a
relationship that blossomed into a blessed union before God that still spiritually exists to this day.  It was, on all counts, a perfect union of two equally whose admirable qualities were not only compatible but also strengthened each other.  Bad news for all of us husbands: Marc has raised the bar with which to measure the heights that a husband would sacrifice for his wife.  Marc, always calm, cool, collected and resolute, is forever hopeful, never showing pity or remorse so as not to douse or diminish Elsa’s own resolve; more than likely, it contributed to prolong Elsa’s life and made her life bearable enough to enjoy it as best she can.  I have always felt privileged to be Marc’s friend, as I am now and would be eternally!

If there is anything that I can leave you with it would be this simple and doable thought:  be kind to one another!

(From the mass program)

Message from Fr. Robert Foliot, SJ

Fr. Bert was Our Lady of Lourdes Pastor when the “Sundaze” was serving at the 7:00 pm Mass.  We also served in Music Ministry, briefly during the ‘Shepherdships’ of Fr. Walsh and Fr. Johnson.

I would
have loved to have been with you, Lee.  It is just a conflict in scheduling.  The Sundaze helped the parish at a crucial time in its history.  Thank you for all you did.  Liturgical music enhances the celebration.  It takes the Word of God and expresses it in a way that opens people's hearts to receive and respond.  The Sundaze faithfully every week helped in nourishing all the people who left their apartments to come over to the Church on Sunday evenings to listen to God and to receive from God what they needed to begin another week.

Many of these people were real newcomers to Canada at the time. Sundaze, with its experience in Canada, showed them how to follow Jesus in a new land, which was now their new home. God bless all of you.

- Fr. Foliot

(From the mass program)

Special thanks to the following who made this memorial possible:

Lee Quesada, Celia Boggs, Georgia Gaceta, Rey and Gigi Yu, Fr. John Sullivan for officiating the mass, for the music provided by members of the choir, and for the speakers who shared your sentiments. 

To everyone who provided food and refreshments, and to all who prepared the church and reception, we thank you so much for your generosity and kindness.

Elsa with Lee Quesada

Memorial Mass

“Someone asked me about you today.  It's been so long since anyone has done that.  It felt so good to talk about you, to share my memories of you, to simply say your name out loud.

She asked me if I minded talking about what happened to you or would it be too painful to speak of it.  I told her I think of it every day and speaking about it helps me to release the tormented thoughts whirling around in my head.  She said she never realized the pain would last this long.  She apologized for not asking sooner.  I told her, ‘Thanks for asking.’  I don't know if it was curiosity or concern that made her ask, but told her, ‘Please do it again sometime — soon.’”

-- Barbara Taylor Hudson

May 16, 2016

Our Lady of Lourdes Parish

520 Sherbourne St., Toronto, Ontario, Canada M4X 1K8

Officated by Fr. John Sullivan

This day is also

Marc and Elsa’s Wedding Day

May 16, 1987

(their 29th Wedding Anniversary)

Click here to see a 4-minute video of the day’s event

Thank you everyone for making the effort to come and honour Elsa tonight.  I know she’s smiling from above.  It was so nice to see you all again.  It sure was a heartwarming moment and allowed us all to reconnect with each other.  We are all in unity with respect and admiration, evident by the number of families and friends, old and new who witnessed and celebrated a life that was well lived by Elsa.  She gave so much of herself to everyone for the time that she was allowed to spread her goodness here on earth.  Thank you again for coming!

Watch “Elsa: Her Life and Memories”

A photo montage on YouTube

Note:  All flowers and plants shown on this tribute site are what Elsa had planted and nurtured in our garden.