We continue with the Caregiver Chronicles: Looking Back Part 2. In Part 1, I talked to you about my mother’s childhood, and today I want to talk to you about her teengage years and youth until she married my father. I have to say that my mother has always told many stories from her youth, and in all of them, she spoke of being very happy and having enjoyed herself a lot. Although they were different times and she lived under Franco’s regime and the limitations that implied, my grandparents were a bit modern and gave her some freedom, although not as much as we expect today. Ready? Let’s do this.

With her cousins and friends

My mother didn’t go to high school; back then, many women finished their studies at 16 or 17 years old, and few continued studying; many worked in family businesses or were simply at home being trained to be good wives. My mother wanted to study, but she was clear that art was her passion, so she enrolled in the Madrid School of Art (I think she told me it was near Retiro Park). She started her studies and was delighted; she tells me that she loved being in class and learning. I remember she told me that once, models came for them to paint, and of course, as was typical of that time, the models were nude (haha, I don’t understand all the modesty and limitations with some things, and then, boom, people naked in an art class).

In Retiro Park and on excursions

Anyway, everything was going well until the next year when there were limited spots at the school and only the best in the class could continue. Unfortunately, she didn’t make it, and I think that marked her for the rest of her life. Writing this, I realize that there are now three generations to which, for some reason, our wings have been clipped. My mother with her painting , me with ballet, and my daughter with cinematography. It must be destiny or a family curse. Well, let me continue before I get off track.

With her cousins and friends

When she couldn’t continue her studies, a friend of my grandmother who had a photography studio offered her a job retouching photos. Back then, there was no Photoshop, and if you wanted to improve the quality of photos, add color, remove people, make them prettier, etc., the only way was by painting the photos or directly retouching the negatives before developing them. My mother was very good at it, and at least she could have a profession within the sector she was passionate about.

Although she was focused on her studies and work, she had a lot of free time and had a great time with her sister, cousins, and lifelong friends (the same people who, since she was diagnosed with her illness, haven’t called her back). They used to take walks in Retiro Park, go to parties, and go on vacation to Altea, where my mother told me how much fun they had, riding bikes, going to the beach, and, above all, enjoying the village festivals.

My mother at that time had a fantastic figure, long blonde hair, and a beautiful face, but she had many insecurities about her hands and didn’t let boys get too close. Although, according to her, many were interested in her, haha. She tells me she had a boyfriend who was in a wheelchair, but he died in a car accident, and she had another suitor she was in love with, but he was divorced, and back then, that was a taboo, so she ended their romance because of what people would say.

My mother also told me that my grandmother and her aunt were dressmakers for high society and made very glamorous dresses, and she and her sister were always able to enjoy being at the cutting edge of fashion, wearing haute couture dresses and being glamorous. I have to say that my mother has always, always been very elegant, and she always coordinated her outfits very well; she couldn’t leave the house without her outfit being complete with accessories like a purse, earrings, necklaces, bracelets, belts, scarves, everything! Everything had to complement perfectly.

In painting class and in the Coral Mass Choir

Another thing she always talks about, and until recently, she repeated it a thousand times, is that she sang in the Coral Mass Choir of Madrid, and one time RTV Española came to record them; she was in the front row. For a long time, when she told us that story, we thought she was making it up until we found photos of that day.

I don’t think there’s much else I can tell you. What I’m telling you are the stories she told me. Some may have been exaggerated or not exactly as she said, but, given what I’ve seen, I believe every word. I think this time of her life was the best. I think for many of us, it’s the best; it’s when we are young, without worries, looking good, in shape, with dreams, and wanting to take on the world. Then comes the reality of life, and depending on your decisions, you go one way or another.

With my father circa 1967

And that’s all I’m going to tell you in this second part. In the third part, we’ll talk about her wedding to my father and the rest…