While many celebrities spent the holidays celebrating with their families, Hamilton creator Lin-Manuel Miranda was dealing with the loss of his beloved abuela, who passed away on December 25.
“Abuela Mundi passed away this Christmas morning,” the 37-year-old tweeted to his followers. “I may have more words in the days to come but for now my heart is in pieces and that’s where it’s gonna be for a bit.”
The Tony Award winner also posted a number of black and white pictures of his abuela, including one of her holding a baby, one of Miranda cuddled up with her in a hospital bed, and one of her sweet smiling face.
In a personal essay for Broadway.com back in 2007, Miranda spoke about the influence Abuela Mundi had on him after she stepped in to help raise him. “My earliest memory takes place in a bodega on Dyckman Street in Washington Heights,” he wrote at the time. “I am three years old, and walking hand in hand with my Abuela Mundi. Abuela Mundi isn’t biologically my ‘abuela’ grandmother, but she lives in my house, feeds me, tucks me in, and walks me to and from nursery school. She took care of my father when he was a kid in Vega Alta, Puerto Rico … and when I was born, she came to take care of me and my sister.”
He continued: “We walk past aisles of plantains and canned goods to the storeroom in back, where we see Abuela Mundi’s true passion: three gleaming Vegas-style slot machines. For the next few hours, it will be my special job to pull the machine’s arm as Abuela feeds it quarters, watching rows of fruit spin around and line up just so, hoping for the lucky spin that will make her rich and change her life. She wins some quarters and sinks them back into the machine. The bodega man gives me candy, I’m pulling the arm for Abuela, music is playing and life is good.”
Special memories like that were the inspiration for his first Broadway show, In the Heights, which was based on his life growing up in New York’s Washington Heights neighborhood. “There’s an Abuela character in the show now, Abuela Claudia,” he wrote in his Broadway.com essay. “She plays Lotto every day, hoping for the lucky numbers that will make her rich and change her life. I don’t know what I’ve done to deserve the luck I’ve had, but while I’m here, I’m pulling the arm for Abuela, music is playing and life is good.”
It certainly sounds like both he and Abuela Mundi hit the jackpot when it comes to family.
Our condolences to Lin-Manuel Miranda and his loved ones.
(photo via Craig Barritt/Getty Images for PEOPLE En Espanol)