Tía Elvirita was a gentle and patient soul. She moved slowly, but with much grace. In the days when she was being courted by Tio Niño, Tia Cary would tease her saying that she would take painstaking care getting ready, lovely dress, flawless make-up, hair arranged to perfection, impeccable from head to toe, unfortunately she would make her appearance when Tio Niño was already gone.
Tio Niño and Tia Elvirita
They lived in Colon where she owned a beauty shop. Tio Niño worked as a supervisor at a sugar mill during the harvest, but was also an accomplished carpenter and had his shop in their large backyard. My bed and wardrobe in Cuba were built by him. Once Mima had Tia Elvirita cut my hair, she took such great care and it took a long, long time, but I got a fantastic haircut.
They were both such good people. After her divorce Tia Berta and her daughter Lourdes went to live with them. Tia Berta once told me that they were like parents to her.
From Mima I learned that it was Tia Elvirita who taught her how to read and write. She would sit next to her while she was sewing and she would patiently answer all her questions. From all the stories I heard from my mother, what I admired about Tia Elvirita the most was her integrity.
As usual, there is a funny story to tell. This one requires knowledge of Spanish as it would lose in the translation. My grandmother was very busy, no surprise with a family of ten, and got so involved in what she was doing that she totally forgot about the beef tongue she had roasting in the oven. All of the sudden she remembered and she turned to Tia Elvirita in a panic and said: “Elvirita, saca la lengua!!” Tia Elvirita dutifully immediately stuck out her tongue.
Tia Elvirita and Tio Niño had two children, Violeta and Rafael. Rafa passed away in New York a few years ago. Violeta turned 80 this year and was the subject of my blog on her birthday October 6. They had two terrific granddaughters, Tania and Lety who now have children and, in Lety’s case, grandchildren of their own.
Nobody is quite perfect and she could be a bit of a hypochondriac – I guess that cannot be helped in such a large family – a subconscious way of getting attention. I know both Mima and Tia Cary would occasionally dabble. Lety once told me referring to her grandmother – “Don’t ask her how she is because she will tell you.”
Tia Elvirita was one lovely lady whose gentleness can only be an asset in Heaven where she now rests.