‘By the grace of God, I’ve had an amazing existence’ New resident recounts journey that led to Farmington Presbyterian Manor
Miguel Oquendo’s life has been anything but ordinary.
Born in Puerto Rico, Miguel moved to New York when he was six years old and was eventually abandoned by his parents during a hospital stay following an accident.
“They just had too many mouths to feed,” said Miguel.
It was actually one of those other mouths who turned out to be Miguel’s saving grace.
“My brother Manny, who’s 83 years old now, is my hero,” said Miguel.
Manny, who was one of Miquel’s 11 siblings to survive childbirth, was the one who snuck Miguel out of the hospital and into the care of some of his other siblings.
“Manny went and got me out the back way like a thief,” said Miguel.
But it was another “family” that got Miguel through his adolescence.
Like many of the kids growing up in Miguel’s tough neighborhood in the Bronx, he joined a street gang. At the time he viewed many of his fellow gang members as “losers,” however he now realizes that they were the ones who saved his life.
“I have a lot of stories about how they rescued me,” said Miguel.
After leaving the gang at the age of 20, Miguel began a long career in restaurant management and had an art career specializing in portraiture, that he did on the streets of NY.
Later in life, Miguel also spent time as an assistant principal at a Christian school and a minister where he focused his attention on the children within the congregation.
“Ministry was fun, I myself am fun—I’m always a clown,” said Miguel.
Miguel eventually moved across the country, and it was there that his health issues eventually caught up with him.
“I was in Arizona, and I kept falling a lot, so my family insisted that I come live with them, and it was from there that I moved here,” said Miguel.
Since becoming a resident of Farmington Presbyterian Manor in late 2022, Miguel is once again giving back to those around him by teaching art classes within the community—recently beginning a session on contour drawing.
“It’s really fun and it helps you feel good,” said Miguel.
Now, settled into his new home, Miguel looks back at his life and feels thankful.
“By the grace of God, I’ve had an amazing existence, I can’t complain,” said Miguel.