It was an extraordinary day on November 3rd, 1916 in the state of Texas at a little ranch called La Colmena. A matriarch was born, my grandmother Hilaria Gonzales Vasquez.
My grandmother was known by many, her friends call her Lala and all her family calls her Ama.
Ama was the last daughter of Juan Cristobal and Ramona Gonzales and second to the last born of their children.
Ama is a matriarch because she is the head and center of our family, the last of her Mohicans, the creator of hundreds of lives, our Queen!
The meaning of the name Hilaria tells truth, cheerful and happy, these are just two of the many wonderful characteristics Ama has and I am glad we all can still harness her knowledge.
Ama’s life started on a ranch in Texas, running around as a young girl appreciating life.
Ama’s best friend when she was young was her brother Joe, they would get into everything together growing up.
Ama’s father ran the ranch, the family was self-sufficient off the land, this is how they fed their 7 kids.
Ama never actually had the opportunity to attend school as a child, to my understanding this was normal for these times.
Ama’s father told her when she was young that school was only for boys and a girl’s place was at home taking care of the family, ouch!
Let us take it into perspective for the time era, here are a few of the inventions made the same year Ama was born, the Tow truck, the Supermarket, and the best invention ever,
drum roll please…. the Hamburger bun. Ama is older than Walter Cronkite, he was born a day after her but of course she outlived him too.
It was not even legal for women to vote here in America at the time of her birth.
When Ama was born, she only had a one percent chance of living to the age of 100 years old, take that for some statistics! The odds were against Ama as a child, but her spirit still shined through!
Ama was married at the early age of 20, to a strong handsome man by the name of Lucas Vasquez, my grandfather.
It was in January of 1937 when they got married, it was the beginning of a 42-year marriage, the only time Ama would ever be married.
It did not take long before the first born would arrive, Vito, but many were to follow, 11 more to be exact.
Ama’s kids’ names are; Vito, Mela, Ester, Joe, Julia, Lala, Mona, Lucas Jr., Maria, Ester, Gilbert, Ernesto.
As you can tell, Ama and my grandpa stayed busy!
They worked very hard to support their family, they travelled all over the United States doing migrant field labor and whatever else they could do to keep their family taken care of.
Ama and grandpa Lucas stayed in Texas until the 1960’s then decided to move to the little but now famous town of McFarland USA.
This is where they planted the roots for most of their kids, the start of many lives! My grandfather and Ama worked in the fields and along side of them were their older kids.
During this time, Ama, saved up enough money to open her own restaurant in McFarland, it only stayed open a couple of years, but this was still a great achievement for her and the family.
The years started to pass, and all the kids grew up and moved on with their own lives, giving Ama and my grandfather 45 grandkids! WOW!!
During these times, all the great Vasquez family get togethers started, these were great years for Ama besides when my grandfather passed away in 1979,
after that Ama was all alone to watch over her family.
Ama never remarried after my grandfather passed away, the faithfulness and perseverance she showed during this time is something I cannot even start to fathom.
The glorious years were going strong, family barbeques, quinces, weddings, more grandkids being born,
great grandkids being born but the time finally came when Ama would start losing more of her own children, to this day Ama has buried six of her kids,
two who were small children when they passed away.
Ama was a crochet gangster back in her day, her gangs name was the Crochet Mafia.
You ever heard the term, “snitches get stitches,” or “knitters aren’t quitters,” well those are some of the gang’s mottos. 😂
It took balls to be part of the Crochet Mafia and Ama had the biggest…you know, the ones for knitting, one of Ama’s favorite pastimes.
Ama was always working hard, knitting like crazy, making all her grandkids beanies, socks, slippers, scarfs and whatever else she could knit.
I know everyone in the family has received a knitted item from Ama at one point in time, that is how she is, she has continuously given.
I can never recall a time when my grandmother was angry or disappointed with anyone.
Ama is close with many of her grandchildren and till this day she still remembers us after she gives us a good look over.
Ama still goes to Texas every year to visit our family down there, who I know she loves and cares for very much.
She still sits down with us when we go over to visit, more than likely she will drink a beer or take a shot of Black Velvet with us, Black Velvet has been her drink of choice for as long as I can remember.
Ama still asks us to put music on for her when we visit then the next thing you know, she is jamming on the harmonica.
Her favorite music is Tejano Music, she moonlights as a DJ for the Tejano music network along with my cousin Gabriel on special occasions.
She still loves to hear the accordion played by my Tio’s while she sits down and goes back into time, reminiscing on her life!
When I am around her, I can see that look in her eyes, it is a look I hope I have one day.
Ama is an incredibly special woman to me and to everyone that knows her, she has lived for 53,508,239 minutes, 891,804 hours, 37,158 days and 10.18 decades.
Ama has out lived everyone in her family from her generation. Ama is from the greatest generation of all times, the G.I.
generation, the generation that saved the world and built this great nation!
Ama has been around longer than the FM radio, the TV, 18 US presidents. She has lived through two World Wars, the dropping of two atomic bombs, the moon landing, the Civil rights movement,
Pancho Villa with his army attacking Texas, and so many other notable moments in the history of the world.
Through all that time she has shown us to be strong, faithful, grateful, righteous, phenomenal, remarkable, magnificent, indomitable, prodigious and the greatest of all,
she has shown us to LOVE one another!
Ama, a mother, a daughter, a sister, a cousin, a granddaughter, a niece, a friend but for me, most especially she is my Grandmother, one who I love and respect very much.
So many great memories Ama has been a part of and so many nostalgias she has given us, she has truly lived a boundless and wonderful life!
So, the next time you see her, and you are one of her descendants, thank her for your life! It is not every day you see a 102 years old beautifully amazing stunning centenarian!