She was born to a family of wealth and privilege. Her father was an olive farmer, her mother, a homemaker that died during a subsequent childbirth. She was raised by her aunts in a sprawling casa in Jaen, Spain. She lost childhood friends to the German troops during World War II. Educated in a convent, she excelled at her studies and grew to obtain several degrees. She attended law school just for the experience. She attended medical school but left in her last year because she had too big a heart and couldn’t take losing the children.

She wrote for Paris Match magazine. She did the official translation of “The Little Prince” from French to Spanish. She wrote, she read. She was fluent in five languages. She painted.

Working at the Air Force base in Madrid, she met and fell in love with a charming Southern serviceman from the United States. And when his time was up, she married him and left it all behind. To come to a one-horse town in the middle of nowhere, deep in the heart of 1960’s Louisiana. She was the foreigner. No one could understand her. There were misunderstandings. She was homesick.

She bore three children and miscarried a fourth. She was a wonderful cook. An incredible seamstress. And, as always, she wrote and she painted. Those were her passion. Her escape.

Time passed, her children grew, and she began working here and there. Because she loved people. And she loved good conversation. And jokes. Oh, her sense of humor. Life with her family was filled with laughter.

She endured ridicule because of her accent. She sat quietly as ignorant, uneducated co-workers made fun of the way she pronounced certain things. She maintained her pride and her dignity.

She got sick. A host of problems that would beleaguer her for twenty more years. Heart … lungs … strokes. Surgery for a brain aneurysm left her with complications, the biggest of which would be that suddenly she was no longer a caregiver but someone who would forever need care. She lost her husband suddenly, twelve days before Christmas, when he was 47 years old. Her youngest daughter was only 15. Her oldest daughter was newly married and took over the management of two households. As well as the raising of a fifteen-year-old.

Her son, the middle child, came home. He gave up his personal life to take care of her. Between him and the two sisters, she was never alone. As her health deteriorated, she became more and more the child as her children became the parents.

She was sweet, she was kind. She loved her children, and, later her grandchildren. And three years ago today, on 3-30-03, she left us. (Y’all know how I love numbers.) She has “appeared” to us from time to time, in ways that can’t be explained or described. And she tells us she’s happy.

Mama, your oldest daughter, the one that looks just like you and shares your love for writing, misses you terribly.

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