Recently I completed this portrait painting of my children’s great-great grandmother from Ambato, Ecuador, on the side of my ex-wife’s family. This is an oil painting on a linen canvas.
Initially, I thought I would publish this portrait painting in a blog post and write about her myself. But then I thought, who better to describe her than her own granddaughter who grew up living with her? So I asked her to write something that I could share.
Adorada Mama Polita
“Mama Polita was my maternal grandmother that lived with my parents and me from the time I was born. She would wake up at 4:30 a.m. and kneel in front of her alter and pray for 2 hours. I would sneak into her bedroom (at least I thought I was sneaking in….) and just listen to her pray and admire her devotion.
Mama Polita loved to garden and to be in nature. She was always nurturing the flowers, plants, and trees that she planted. (And she was also nurturing me.) I remember that she planted a peach tree in front of our home in Alexandria, VA. She would make peach marmalade with the peaches. So delicious.
She also loved to cook and bake. She made delicious dishes from Ecuador – her mother country that she missed so much. For the holidays, she would create feasts of so many dishes.
My grandmother was also an amazing storyteller. I would listen intently as she told colorful and vivid stories of the Bible, her childhood in Ecuador, and the many impassioned family members. These are stories that have left a lifetime of poignant memories for me. I have passed down those stories to my children, and I hope they will pass the stories on to their children. I’m helping with that as well 😊
My grandmother carried the beauty of music in her blood. From my birth until she passed away at 89 years old – I always remember her playing the guitar, singing classic music from the Andes – pasillos, valses, pasacalles, and yarabi (to name a few), and dancing.
She was also always writing… I have journals upon journals of hers – including poetry. What a bright light she was in my life. She saved me. She was my nurturer. Something my mom was not able to do…
Gracias Mama Polita. Although you had so much suffering in your life – you didn’t let that dim your light. Your legacy lives on through me, through my children, through my grandchildren, and future generations. You will never be forgotten. And now I have this amazing painting by my son-in-law Dave White – that I will cherish and will become a family heirloom. Te quiero con todo mi corazón viejita linda.”
I did know Mama Polita’s daughter, before she passed away. Everyone called her “Mama Elsita” (her name was Elsa). She was a really talented musician, as was her mother, Mama Polita. We named my daughter Elsa after her. Elsa was conceived in Ecuador, on Mama Polita’s birthday, in a hotel that used to be a convent. It was not planned like that! We call her our immaculate conception. So we had to give her the middle name Polita (as well as June, after my grandmother, whose portrait I also want to paint one day). Here we are in front of the Mama Polita portrait painting that I framed, which is now hanging in the house of my mother-in-law.