Más vale onza de sangre que libra de amistad.
An ounce of blood is worth more than a pound of friendship.
You know who I don’t talk about often enough? My mom. She has an amazing story, one that we had the privilege of sharing with NPR’s StoryCorp last year. To sum up my mom’s 76 years of life in short:
She was born in southern Spain during the Spanish Civil War. The oldest of six children (3 boys and 3 girls), the daughter of a barber. She grew up under the shadow of a dictator. Later in life, her parents opened up a stationary store. The family lived above the store, and some of my fondest memories of our trips to Spain revolve around exploring the treasures in that tiny store and tossing sunflower seeds off the balcony to unsuspecting people on the street below.
My father was stationed at an Air Force base near my mother’s hometown, and under the guise of trying to “learn English/Spanish,” they began a courtship that turned into marriage. My oldest sister was born in Spain, but shortly after they moved back to the States. I’ve written about what that must’ve been like, to move away from everything you’ve known in a time when Skype and instant communication was something out of the Jetsons.
What I don’t believe I’ve ever mentioned is that my mother’s younger sister, Hortensia, followed in her sister’s footsteps. My Tita (aunt) Hortensia also married an American. While they bounced around with much more frequency than my family did (my Uncle Bill was in the service for many years after my dad left the service), they eventually settled down in Georgia, and more recently, Florida.
While I don’t imagine it was ever easy to be so far away from family, I like to think these sisters found comfort in having family in the same continent. Maybe they didn’t see each other as often as they would’ve liked, but it had to be nice to know that one could call the other and commiserate on this odd situation they found themselves in: expats living in very not-cosmopolitan places, trying to raise a family without losing their heritage.
They get together at least once a year, these Romero sisters, and it is one of the joys of my life to see them side-by-side. I just want to follow them around all day, listening to their Spanish, watching them enjoy each other’s company, being on the outside of their decades-old inside jokes but loving the laughter.
From the first hour of my own mothering, my mom has been the example I’ve looked up to. How wonderful is it that I have their example of sisterhood at its finest to serve as a model in my life as well?