A Tribute to the Not So Famous Women
A Tribute to the Not So Famous Women
Because we inherit more than possessions…
We inherit the legacy our loved ones leave for generations to come.
This is a tribute to the not so famous women.
The ones who consistently modeled:
A way of being
Positive character traits
A love for nature
Calligraphy and long letters
But above all… a desire to help others.
Gloria, was a trailblazer for her era, a modern woman in her time, and an incredibly forward thinking person. She was from a small mining town in Nicaragua. The weather was cool and rainy, and the wind howled at night in the most delicious way.
At first glance, she might appear as no nonsense and militant, but her heart of solid gold gave her away immediately.
In a time when most women tended to their household duties, she was a successful entrepreneur.
I’m convinced she had her side business so that she could fund her charitable ways to her heart’s content.
Aside from that, she had the most beautiful handwriting, a natural remedy for any ailment, and an unending love for roses. One of my favorite things is that she doctored her beauty creams and serums with her own concoctions.
Her house was a meeting point for all the cousins. Summers were full of adventure and fun, despite including daily studying - math, grammar, spelling, and handwriting.
Aside from our daily Spanish and handwriting lessons, she sent us to different classes depending on our ages.
Apparently at 7 years old, I was old enough to take typing lessons. The house in the opposite corner to theirs was a “typing school”. The owner’s name was Teléforo Acevedo, and his name sounded just as funny to me then as it does today.
I learned to type on an old fashioned typewriter. No computers back then and definitely not in this small town.
By the end of the summer, I could type 70+ words per minute. I didn’t know at the time how handy those skills would be later in life. Truly, she was giving me more than just typing skills. The confidence that came along with it was a special bonus - a tiny 7-year old girl taking lessons with adults was something that seemed heroic to me.
Gloria, tiny but mighty (barely 100 lbs and 5 feet tall!), was very sergeant-like in case you haven’t gotten that sense yet. But underneath her militant ways, her care for others can be best described in one of our daily chores:
Every day, she sent two plates of food to her neighbor Doña Chenda. Her husband had passed away, and her adult daughter had a severe disability. She was poor and my grandmother wanted to make sure that Chenda and her daughter had a warm meal every day.
Just like Doña Chenda, she had other people she sent things to – a liter of milk here, cheese there, fresh lemonade to others.
And that’s what I grew up seeing as a normal way of life.
And not because she had to, not because she should…
It’s who she was.
But her admirable qualities didn’t stop there.
She was a walking cabinet of natural remedies and might as well have been a chemist the way she concocted her own beauty creams and serums.
She had a remedy for everything - bruises, split chins, stomachache, nerves, headache…
But what makes me chuckle every time is the “potion” that came in a brown bottle. The purpose of this prescription was to cure drinking problems. Picture an apothecary in the 1600’s and that’s what this medicine bottle looked like it came from.
It was available for anyone, but her main clients were the men who drank themselves into oblivion every day. Either they (in a sober, guilt ridden moment) or their wives would come seeking “The Medicine” to help cure their drinking ailment.
I remember this brown bottle vividly, no idea what was in it or how it tasted, but I knew about the temporary side effects. I had the distinct feeling that these known side effects were enough to scare even the most determined of them.
The brown bottle came with detailed, handwritten instructions and one big warning: they would violently throw up and be sick for two days…but after that the last thing they’d want was to come close to a bottle of alcohol again.
This still cracks me up…but people swore by it and the men were willing to put themselves through two days of hell to stop drinking.
As far as innovative cosmetics, she made creams and had the skin of a porcelain doll. I’m sure her skin complexity was a combination of good genetics and the creams she made.
My mom says that she collected the mother of pearl buttons from my grandfather’s fancy shirts, and crushed them into a powder. Then, she’d add them to her face creams.
In my research, I found a recent article by a renowned dermatologist who wrote about mother of pearl. Pearl powder is conducive to skin cell growth and it’s effective for wound repair. It also contains anti-aging and antioxidant properties.
Gloria was definitely on the right track!
Want to guess who else likes to doctor up her facial creams?
Yup, yours truly.
No matter how fancy the cream or serum, I still add my own touch of magic. Not mother of pearl, honestly, that wouldn’t have occurred to me. My latest obsessions in skincare are Frankincense and Litsea Cubeba, both used in perfumery but powerhouses for the skin.
But on to Gloria…
She loved flowers, especially roses.
There are no photos of her magnificent rose garden; only what I remember from our summers. The cover picture is a beautiful rendition of this amazing place that gifted us with so many memories.
By general standards, Gloria wouldn’t be considered a pioneer, but she was for me.
After so many years, her legacy radiates through generations she never even met.
I’m so honored to pay tribute on International Women’s Day to this remarkable woman, to the not so famous grandmothers who leave a deep imprint in our hearts.
I owe her my love of flowers, my curiosity about plants and nature (and what they can do in perfumery). Not to mention my Spanish skills, love for calligraphy and long letters, and my insatiable desire to help people in need, especially as it relates to education.