Sisters

The other day, I heard my mom laugh while talking on the phone with one of her sisters and realized that the sort of laughter that erupted from her at that moment – where she’s laughing so hard her eyes are closed and the giggles are absolutely uncontrollable – most often hits her when she’s talking with one of her sisters. Tere and Hilarion had five girls and one boy. I’m not sure how Tio Lucho handled being the only man in the family after their father passed away, but here’s a look at the ladies he had to deal with.

Celia (right) with a friend.
Marta and Ilka

Though they all live in different states, I don’t think there’s a day that goes by that at least one of these sisters doesn’t talk to at least one other.

It’s Me, But It’s Not

All of my life people have told me I resemble my mother, and in my personal opinion this is the most striking photographic evidence.

My mom is pictured here with Danitza, Brice, Lanett, and baby Luchito. I think the owner of the pigtail towards the bottom left of the frame is Itzel.

The first time I saw this picture I wondered why my mom would put a picture of me in an album full of photos taken before I was even born. It wasn’t until I examined the faces surrounding the young woman in the red top that I realized it was my mom, not me.

Family Pictures = Family Treasures

A couple of months ago my mom gave me an old album of hers. It was filled with pictures that had been taken before she ever moved to the United States. I’m thankful for this priceless and timeless gift.

Out of all the pictures, the one I was most excited to come across was this one. It’s all of the Vallee-Colombs in one picture, looking quite groovy if I don’t say so myself.

Hilarion y El Cristo Negro de Portobelo

Today my mother’s father Hilarion “Julio” Vallee

would’ve turned 90 years old so I just wanted to take a quick moment to say, “Happy birthday abuelo!”

His birthday happens to fall on a day that is very important to Catholics in Panama and is also ardently observed by many followers outside the country as well.  October 21st is El Dia del Cristo Negro de Portobelo. People form all over the country journey to the small town of Portobelo to pay homage to the statue of a Black Jesus (one of many found in Latin America) that has resided there since 1658.  When he was alive, my grandfather was among the many that would make this trip each year.

Unfortunately, Hilarion did not live past the age of 37.   I wonder, would a 90 year old Hilarion still have been making that pilgramage? Judging by how sharp and feisty some of my oldest Medicare clients are, I can definitely say it’s a possibility we can not rule out!

A few fun facts about El Cristo Negro de Portobelo:

  • El Cristo Negro de Portobelo is the saint for singers.
  • None other than the queen of salsa, Celia Cruz, was known to join this pilgramage on occasion.
  • Another great salsero, Ismael Rivera, recorded “El Nazareno” in honor of El Cristo Negro de Portobelo.

You can go here for a short news peice on this year’s gathering at the church of San Felipe in Portobelo.

Photos II

A continuacion! More pictures from Tito’s album.  Let’s see what else we have here…

Looks like a bridesmaid gig for my mom and a couple of her primas.

Mom (Julia), Berta, and Danitza (?). Familia, whose wedding was this?

I wonder whose house they are standing in front of in the picutre below.

Not sure who the little girl with Tia Isa is.

So glad some of these pictures give the year and names!

Carmen and Berta (I totally have to start calling her Betty now) with their older cousin Lydia, apparently in 1954.

Who are most of these people, where are they, and what are they doing?

The second woman to the left is Rita and the second woman to the right is Julia aka mommy.

Another precious memory of Tia Ilka.

A family picnic?

Looks like Celia is feeding Rolondo something while Martita digs into her own plate.

That’s it for now. Thanks again, Lydia and Tito, for the memories!