Hilarion

Today Tia Mirna sent an email out to the family reminding us that today is the anniversary of my grandfather’s death, which I’m sure led each of us to take a moment to think about his legacy.  This post, the first ancestral profile I’ve put together for this blog, is my own little way of honoring the only grandparent I never had the pleasure to meet. 

Name: Hilarion Vallee Cadignan

Date of birth: Oct 21, 1921

Place of birth: Panama City, Panama

Occupation: Carpenter

Date of death: May 18, 1959

A few random facts:

  • Hilarion had two nicknames: Achilo was his French/Martinican nickname, Julio was his Spanish nickname.  I don’t think anyone called him Hilarion.
  • He was a fluent speaker of French patios, the language of his Martinican parents.
  • He was a fluent speaker of English, the language of the larger West Indian community and the Americans who ran the Canal.
  • He was a fluent speaker of and was literate in Spanish, the national language of his birthplace.
  • He was born a twin.  Sadly, the other baby did not survive.
  • He was a looker, if I don’t say so myself! 

There’ll be much more to come about Hilarion in future posts.  For now I invite my family members to add any other interesting facts or stories the rest of us may not know about him. For the rest of you, I’d love to hear a favorite story about one of your grandfathers.

Happy Mother’s Day!

Though this post focuses on one special mother it is dedicated to all moms, especially my other grandmother, Daisy, and my own mother.

In honor of Mother’s Day I dug up a beautiful piece my Tio Lucho wrote a few years ago about my maternal grandmother.  I hope he doesn’t mind me sharing it with the world and that my attempt to translate it into English does it some justice. If I remember correctly, the family portraits I chose to showcase just how cute my Nana was were taken at the urging of my Tia Ilka, the youngest and most photo-obsessed of my mom’s siblings.  Given that we lost Ilka in 1997 and Nana in 2000, we are truly blessed to have these professional  photos of my grandmother with all of her children as adults. 

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In Threes

This summer has provided me with a mix of genealogical highs and lows.  I’ve made enormous strides in some very important ways, starting with my trip out east for my grad school graduation.  After parading around Cambridge in my black robe and crimson hood, I headed up to New York for Ayanna’s Jack & Jill’s graduation.  In addition to the usual family fun, I also got to spend some time with my mother’s first cousin, Ann Marie, who has done a lot of family history research over the years.  It was great to connect with another family member who was as obsessed with learning about our family’s roots as I am.  Though my trip to New York was short, it became even more fruitful when Ann Marie took me to meet Tia Dilca, a cute old lady who had been good friends with Hilarion’s sisters. Continue reading