Abuela Katy turned 88 today. The picture was taken when she was sixteen. Now, t his is a life that is worth writing about. She started her life in Medellin, Colombia and because of a military coup that took over the airports, she was advised by her family to stay in the United States. She came here with money to buy inventory for a small retail store she was partnering and during that short time everything in Colombia was turned inside out. Her life took a turn. She was completely unprepared, the money was running out. If I remember correctly, she was doing business in Miami and soon thereafter had to find refuge. I can not imagine this kind of life change. She had no command of the English language and few acquaintances.
However, she moved forward, called a friend, explained the situation and was taken in right away. Katy accepted odd jobs to pay her boarder. Mostly, tailoring work, making the occasional alteration, dress or ensemble for the affluent on their summer breaks to Miami. The money that she earned not only supported her but my father and his older brothers. My dad was barely an adolescent who quickly became and orphan. Katy was also a widow. My uncles were a bit older, though, and did what they could to support themselves and their youngest brother.
Then her big break came. She was offered a job with steady pay, room and board. She became a nanny to two small girls for a mother in Connecticut. She talks about this woman fondly and remembers her good advice and kindness towards her. The girls were calling her mom at the end of her nearly two year commitment. She learned English quickly as the girls were being spoken to in Spanish. The unrest in Colombia lasted a while and by then her business was shut down and it only made sense to support her children from here. During the time spent in Connecticut, she was pursued by a good-looking Cuban...my Abuelo Carlos. He was infatuated by her at first sight, but she was very clear that she had no room or patience for games. If you ever have met my grandmother, she meant it. She is a woman that commands respect.
The road led back to Miami. She sent for my father, 14, and married Carlos shortly thereafter. Their life together lasted 25 plus years and sadly was widowed again. She never re-married, saying that he was the man that made her the happiest...her greatest love. I believe that, Abuelo Carlos was a great man, who was well respected within the community.
So, I write these few sentences to sum up just a fraction of her life in honor of her birthday. Eighty-eight years of living with few regrets and little complaints. May we be so lucky!
Feliz cumpleanos, Abuela...que cumples mucho mas! (happy birthday, grandma...and many more!)