A few weeks ago I finished this oil portrait painting of my wife Brigitta’s maternal Nicaraguan grandmother (or ‘abuela’, in Spanish). Her name was Rafaela Corrales Toruño, and Brigitta simply called her “Abue.”
Abue had five children, three of which emigrated from Nicaragua to the U.S. in the 1970’s. Abue also came to the U.S. to accompany her first child to come here, Tía Ligia (Tía means “Aunt”, and Tía Ligia was Brigitta’s Aunt Ligia). Then, Brigitta’s Dad came on vacation to visit, which then turned into a permanent stay! Later on, Brigitta’s Tía Cecilia came as well. Abue’s other two children stayed in Nicaragua. So nowadays, we have family both in Northern Virginia and in Nicaragua (and in Argentina and Ecuador on Brigitta’s Mom’s side)!
I met Abue almost ten years ago, before I spoke much Spanish. Whenever I tried to speak to her in Spanish, she’d turn to Brigitta and say “¿Qué dice?”, or “What is he saying?”. I’m glad I got to experience her liveliness, kindness and family values. She was a true ‘family matriarch.’
Abue lived with Brigitta’s family during much of Brigitta’s childhood, and they spent lots of time together, abuela y nieta (granddaughter), on the famous couch shown in the painting below!