December 22

Today would have been my mother’s birthday. My mother, whose theme song was the beautiful tango Malena sung by a 1940s singer named Fiorentino. And who lost her mother, her best friend, in March 1940 and never got over her death. My grandmother Ana became a single mother at 31 after my grandfather Manuel Canale suddenly died at the age of 35. My Tia told me that she, Esther, was my father’s pet and my mother my grandmother’s. Although she had several chances to remarry, my grandmother chose not to. She was afraid her girls would be sexually molested by their stepfather—something that can often happen even in the best of families. My grandmother Ana was not helped by her late husband’s well-to-do family (or her own). They, my mother, my Tia and Ana, were like a female version of the 3 Musketeers. Ana earned their living by sewing and my mother and Tia became little maids to their stockbroker uncles. My mother survived her mother’s death by over 54 years. She never forgot her, although she loved other people, one of whom was my brother Alex. I know they are finally together up there in Heaven.

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