Mi Abuela (my grandmother)
Delia Fernandez was an incredible survivor. Born in 1901, she saw so many incredible changes not only in her life, but the world.
At a young age, Abuela became completely deaf from meningitis. She did not know sign language but read lips perfectly.
From what I’ve learned, she belonged to a successful family.
From the photos I have included within this blog, she was well dressed and it seems as if her family was at least of middle class existence. I wish I knew more about her upbringing and how she spent her days.
From what I’ve been told by my mom, my grandmother was disowned by her family as a young adult when she decided to marry Manuel Hevia, a man who was more interested in drinking and gambling than working or following his father’s footsteps.
Manuel’s father Dionisio Hevia was a successful tobacco importer in Tampa Florida. He set Manuel up with a business and was sadly disappointed by a son who had no responsibility for himself or others. He must have been quite a smooth talker because he managed to capture my grandmother’s heart. Manuel passed away after fathering 7 children. At this point, it is undetermined how he died.
This left my grandmother in Cuba with 6 children (Dalia the eldest daughter died from childhood diabetes at age two). They all lived in a one room home on a dirt floor. One small bed for the girls, a hammock and an old trunk for the boys to sleep on. I wonder how my grandmother felt. She was probably extremely sad and distraught. There was barely enough food to feed the kids. She owned one dress which was constantly washed and mended in order to look presentable.
As a child, my grandmother had been in and out of the U.S. since 1910 (her dad also had business in Tampa), but I am unsure when she came here to live here permanently as an adult (perhaps in the late 60’s or so?). Once I get the story, you’ll find it here.
During my time with Abuela she never once complained about anything. It always seemed that she was in a good mood. She lived with my family off and on but mainly lived with my cousins in Maryland. Abuela liked living with them because their house was always alive with 5 kids running around, getting in trouble. My childhood home was more about rules and regulations and it was primarily quiet with just two kids walking on eggshells.
It was always nice when Abuela was around. She loved to watch soaps and TV shows, didn’t yell at us kids, never ate too much and always had a bite of dessert. Wish I had been around more in her later years as she passed away November 5, 1998 at the age of 97.
I miss you and love you so much, Abuela.