Carolina Victoria Velasquez Gil de Ludeña
November 8, 1925 – January 20, 2021
It is with a very sad but gratefully heart, I can finally share my 95-year-old mother’s love for kindness and true gratitude to being gifted with a long life of health and ability to do so much for her family in spite of all the challenges of a united family life.
Carolina’s family lineage dates back to Peru’s Declaration of Independence from Spanish rule exactly 200 years ago come July. Only three years later, Mexico would also be released from Spanish bastion and fifteen years later all the Americas would finally cut the lasso free of the Hispanic oligarchy. But “freedom” is only a word, unless supported with laws to protect that privilege earned with bloodshed and war.
Born in the border town of Tacna, which was involved in a massive influx of Italian immigrants looking to establish a better lifestyle for their people and serving as the host to the Peruvian Bolivian armies, the town fell into ruin in the late 1800s during the war of the Pacific, making it a target for an aggressive take over by the Chilean government.
The Peruvian nationalists, with mom’s Velasquez family were run off from their land, but still doing everything in their power to maintain sovereignty of their rightful lands, and finally, when she was still four years old, mom’s family was able to return to their land and have the Treaty of Lima reestablish that sovereignty. In the turmoil, family ties with cousins, aunts and uncles living in their sister town of Arica were severed due to the Chilean government’s appropriation of Arica in the conditional agreement.
Pulled out of school just short of a sixth-grade education, she grudgingly helped bring order and structure to a family of eleven; cleaning, cooking, and making sure the younger siblings finished their schoolwork, while the older ones completed their college endeavors. She obligingly sold her prized sewing machine given to her as her sole means of financial independence, so that her older brother could purchase his college books to complete his nine years of medical school to become a surgical specialist and professor. She was inspired by the Greek tragedy literature that her brothers would bring her and hoped to someday travel the world where these fantastical stories originated.
She was determined to “make it on her own” with her mad sewing skills and love of independence, but after a chance meeting with a handsome suitor who fell in love with her laughter and love of dance parties, she could not say no to the promise of a mutual family of their own to raise, and just as quickly as she finished giving birth to her youngest of four, she was already making plans to help her husband establish his career in a country with more opportunities for her family’s education. Together they ran a sandwich shop that provided the savings needed for a one-way flight north.
She was proud of her newfound dual citizenship that allowed her to legally travel throughout the Americas and raise her family in a hard fought “free” country that supported and championed “laws” to protect those freedoms to legal citizens that supported and respected their government’s laws.
In Colorado, she fell in love with the beauty of the land and the richness of the soils and quickly set to replicate a farm like environment, trying her luck at homesteading with raising her own hog and tilling a vegetable garden. All the while she was sewing all the outfits for school plays, cheerleading pep rallies and warm coats and hats for the winter blizzards, until the time came to retire to a more weather friendly environment in sunny Arizona, where she could grow apricot, olive and fig trees, remedy herbs, fragrant lemongrass and other honeysuckle and grape vines.
It was never intended, but she was always struggling with the loving ties she had to her brothers and sisters she dearly missed and the family lifestyle she now thoroughly enjoyed with her son, Carlos & Elsa & Christopher, Martha & Jerry, Pat & Jim and sons, Luke and Sean, and Anne & Tony and sons Clifford & Jesse with Cassidy and now great grandchildren, Brody & Paige, so every other summer she was flying back home to rekindle the love of her youthful land and siblings.
She is predeceased by her parents, Manuel & Julia, and loving brothers, and survived by their families: Ovidio & sweet Dora & sons Roberto & Juan, Hugo & Mercedes, nieces, Nellie & Nayade, Guido & Chela, children, Guido & Flor and their children, Feliz & Carmela, nephews, Bambocho, Italo, & niece Pichota, and her sisters: Elba y niece Bianula & Raquelita and her little brother, Rosa & Rudy, Juana Gladys and much-loved Julia & Steve and their children. She is survived by her dear sister Teresa & Lucho, & dearly missed godson/nephew Luchito, esteemed niece Marite, nephews Jose & Ricardo & Lisa & children, Alex, Jake, Grace & Ana. She eventually enticed all her sisters to move closer, but her focus was now on grapefruit, pomegranate and rosebush trimmings. She enticed animals of all kinds to her yard; a goat, a chicken, a turtle, but her more accomplished snares were the wild birds and butterflies that adorned her grapevines and fig trees. She had a knack for nurturing sick birds back to health when they’d fall off their nest or break a wing flying into a window. They always, always returned every spring with a new hatch of loving grateful chicks singing their hearts out to her morning, noon and evenings, as she cooked away in her kitchen for her now married children with youngsters of their own.
She and dad helped raise their four grandchildren, picked them up from school and religiously prepared meals for her two daughter’s families when they’d come pick up their children at Grandma’s daycare.
She lovingly served all her families with all her heart and soul and was never at a loss for helping to feed or clothe someone less fortunate than herself. She loved making the Mexican tamales that her friend and neighbor taught her to make for all the neighbors every Christmas and always had some cash in her purse for homeless people that would cross her path.
In lieu of flowers, please consider donating to a homeless shelter like Gospel Rescue Mission or consider volunteering at a Long-Term Care Skilled Nursing Home, Assisted Living or Independent house caring for our most vulnerable, where mom spent her last five years of life. The general conditions at these business facilities are far from meeting “basic care needs” and needs to be nationally addressed for more humane legislation and protections.
In advocating for loved ones, you can get more information at VOICES FOR SENIORS, DIGNITY FOR THE AGED, as well as your state chapter of CAREGIVERS FOR COMPROMISE, because isolation kills!