In My Nana’s House

I don’t have tons of memories of my first couple of trips to Panama at the young ages of 4 and 5, but there are certain things that stick out. Eggs being served at some event related to Tia Ilka’s wedding. Swiping a fingerful of frosting from the wedding cake as soon as Tia Mirna had turned away to attend to something else. The matching dresses Tia Mirna had made for me and my primas. Lying in a beach hammock at Gorgona with my mother and my brother.

I also remember being cranky one night, wanting all of the people (a.k.a. relatives) partying late into the night at my nana’s house in the neighborhood of Rio Abajo to go home so I could go to sleep. For whatever complicated reason, based on stubborn kindergartener logic, I had decided that even though I was exhausted I was simply too inconvenienced by their presence to allow myself to give in to the sleep. My mom says I even asked her in desperation, “Why don’t all these people go home?!”

Anyhow, back in the days of the house in Rio Abajo, my mom, my brother and I would sleep in my mother’s old room – the one she had occupied before she married my father and migrated to the U.S.  I think all three of us may have even slept in one single twin bed (I was only 4 or 5 and Igmar was a toddler…but still!). From what I remember the room was quite bare and plain, but something about the memories of it evokes feelings of home, comfort, coziness. When I came across this picture of my mother, taken long before she knew she’d end up with children with crazy names like Anulkah and Igmar, I knew instantly it was that room – not so much from sight but from that feeling.  The feeling of nana’s house.

Photos I

Months ago I purchased my first ever Groupon. For just $40 I was entitled to $100 worth of digitized pictures. Though I didn’t have any old family pictures at the time , I knew this was a great deal worth buying into.  Plus, I figured that once I had spent the money I would actually get myself to work on obtaining old photos to have scanned. And that’s just what happened.

As the June 15 deadline to use the Groupon neared I remembered having looked at an album full of old family pictures at Tito’s house last Thanksgiving.  These pictures originally belonged to his mother, Lydia, who is first cousins with my mother (on the Colomb-Mondesi St. Lucia side). Mere days before the groupon expired I borrowed the album and sent some of the pictures away for digitizing (I didn’t thinking I would have enough on my account to have the entire album).  Continue reading

Vallee Graves in Panama

Report #1 on my 2011 genealogy research trip to Panama

Last month, in just a matter of days, I went from having no idea when my next trip to Panama would take place to having a ticket booked for a ten day trip in June. The main purpose of this trip was to do genealogical research. This and my next several postings will report on what I accomplished. Continue reading

A Mamá By Any Other Name

In previous posts (like here and here) I discussed the tricky tradition of using nicknames in my mother’s family. Well, here’s more on that thorn in the side of this genealogist.

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When my mom and her siblings would talk to or about their mother they would often refer to her as Tere (short for her nickname, Teresa).  Their cousins also called their mothers by their (nick)names.   Weird that they didn’t just call their moms some version of “Mom,” right?  

Nonetheless, there was someone else that my mother, her siblings, and their cousins called Mamá: their grandmother, Catherine “Edelanive” Mondesi.  Though Catherine’s actual children were Julio (a.k.a. Papa Gil), Clemintina (a.k.a. Clemina), Fide (real name: Maria Sebastiana), Tere (real name: Maria Anastasia), and Isa (real name: Elizabeth Juana) it was Catherine’s grandchildren that knew her so affectionately as Mamá.  Continue reading

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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Soufrière

“There are no mistakes, no coincidences. All events are blessings given to us to learn from.” – Elisabeth Kubler-Ross

During one of many aimless and seemingly endless web searches (you know, click on this link which leads you to this link where you discover another link…) I came across a genealogy site called CousinConnect where you can submit queries in hopes of connecting with others researching the same surname. I took all of two seconds to type up and submit a couple of queries, knowing from previous experience not to expect a response any time soon, if at all. The query contained everything I know about the Colomb line of my mother’s family, which as you see below, is not much at all.

“My great-grandfather Louis Joseph Colomb/Columb left St. Lucia and immigrated to Panama in the late 1800s or early 1900s. Unfortunately I do not have any other information about him at this time.”

That was it. I sent my message off into cyberspace and resumed feeling unsuccessful in my search for new information about my predecessors.

Connecting the Dots

Now let’s fast forward a few months to March 27, 2010 when (drumroll, please) a response arrives in my inbox! It read as follows: Continue reading