A couple of days ago I found out that my last link to my mother’s side of my family had died. It was my Aunt Dolly who was my mother’s youngest and only sister. My mother had a brother a couple of years younger than she. With the death of my Aunt Dolly at 92 that whole side of my family is now gone but I have five first cousins. Four(Robin, Dolores, David, Shelley) by my Aunt Dolly (who in the obituary she wrote herself in 2009 does not mention that she was married to Joseph Tow) and one first cousin Jorge Wenceslao who was my Uncle Tony’s son and lives in Buenos Aires. On my father’s side every one of my uncles and aunts is dead as are four first cousins. But I still have four, Inesita, Elizabeth, Willoughby and Dianne. It is sobering to see how it all works and one’s circle of relatives and friends diminishes with time. The worst fact about it is that when I was young I never asked the questions that I should have asked, when, where, how, who? Now that I am curious there is nobody left alive to answer the questions. If there is one thing that kept my Aunt Dolly and I separated since my mother died in 1972 was the fact that I kept the family albums. Many of the pictures had disappeared when my Uncle Tony would visit us in Buenos Aires he would rifle through the albums and even snip out pictures of himself. To the end I kept the family album. To my aunt Dolly, the photographs probably meant more to her than to me. But these pictures were vivid for me, as both my grandmother Lolita (my Aunt Dolly’s mother) and my mother told me stories about them. Two of the photos here are from that album. The fourth one is from my Aunt Dolly’s book of poetry (she published several) Such as These, 1955. In many ways I regret having kept the album but there is nothing I can do about it now. Three months ago my Aunt Dolly was quite sick and I decided to call her up. She had not spoken to me for years but she was gracious, cordial and ultimately we parted ways friends. Of that I am glad. For me, in spite of the fact that my mother had the most beautiful legs in the world, my Aunt Dolly was the Audrey Hepburn of the family. Aunt Dolly speaks of being a posthumous baby. My mother often told me of this and in fact before my grandfather died he took my mother to look at doll houses. A few weeks later he was dead. Then some days after it was my mother’s birthday and the doll house arrived with a note from her father wishing her a happy birthday. My mother started telling everybody that her father was not dead and that the proof of it was the doll house. Shortly after my Aunt Dolly was born my grandmother, now a widow decided to immigrate to the United States from Manila. The picture above is their passport photograph. They bought passage on a Japanese ship and disembarked in Vancouver in the early 20s. They passed through the CP Train Station (I like to go there as I can almost sense the four ghosts walking to the to the train that took them to Montreal and from there to New York. In New York my grandmother worked for (I believe) a pharmaceutical firm called Sydney Ross and she rented a little house in the Brooklyn. Twice a month she gave my mother (who was 11) her pay check. My mother bought the food, paid the rent and saw to the taking care of her brother and sister.
After a few years they returned to Manila and sometime in 1938 when my grandmother felt the winds of war they all moved to Buenos Aires. Below ismy aunt’s obituary. DOLORES HUMPHREY January 8, 1919 — March 12, 2011 MARIA DE LOS DOLORES HUMPHREY (nee de Iruretagoyena) died the afternoon of Saturday, March 12, 2011 at 1:30. She was 92 years old. A posthumous child whose father died at age 30, she often wondered that she had been chosen to live as long as she did. Dolores was widow of “world renowned explorationist” the late Dr. William E. Humphrey. For many years prior to her demise Dolores was active in the Houston Geological Auxiliary and Geo-Wives as well as in a bilingual organization, El Club Continental. She was involved in drama and appeared in several plays sponsored by various thespian groups and also by Geo-Wives. She held play-readings (in both languages) in her home and helped organize these readings in the homes of others. Above all, Dolores was a poet who had written verse from the age of seven years and had published three books of poems — two of them bilingual. She maintained that her poetic gift was a legacy from the father she never knew, Don Tirso de Iruretagoyena, who was made a member of the Royal Academy of Letters of Spain precisely because of his poetry. Her mother, Dolores Reyes vda. de Iruretagoyena, an operatic soprano, was a member of the Philippine Embassy in Mexico City prior to her death. Loyal to her native Philippines and proud of her Spanish roots, Dolores was fiercely attached to and defensive of her adoptive country, the United States of America. She completed her early schooling at the Assumption Convent in Manila and it was at the University of Santo Tomas (“Older than Harvard!” she always explained) that she pursued her studies in Associate in Arts and in Bachelor of Literature in Journalism. She graduated Valedictorian in her A.A. career and Summa Cum Laude in her Journalism discipline. Her entire family firmly believed in the exhortation of the Assumption nuns: “Education, Education, Education.”
Dolores’ life included much travel and re-settlement and took her to Buenos Aires — where she worked on English-language newspapers during five years…New York City, Havana, Dallas, Caracas, Bogota, Mexico City, Madrid, Connecticut, Chicago… Last stop: Houston. Dolores pursued her difficult quest for U.S. citizenship and finally achieved her goal on April 29, 1988, after years of paperwork. She was a regular churchgoer, active in Prince of Peace in the Champions Area, later in St. Michael’s and finally at Our Lady of Walsingham on Shadyilla Lane. At all three churches she put her dramatic gifts to good use when assigned to do the readings on Sat. or Sun. scripture. Dolores is survived by her two sons: Robin Humphrey of Crystal River, FL, and David Humphrey of Pacific Palisades, CA, by three daughters: Dolores Humphrey Ploszay of Austin, Shelley A. Humphrey of Malaga, Spain, and Marta P. Humphrey of Crystal River, FL, by one grandson, Kamal Humphrey of Los Angeles…three granddaughters, Ana Ward of Austin, Marta H. Vasel of Chicago, Shelley A. Humphrey of Tucson, AZ, and three great granddaughters: Viviana Evans, Isabella, Evans and Christina Vasel. On the very day she became a U.S. citizen, Dolores wrote a poem entitled, New Citizen, which was subsequently read aloud at Oxford by an alumnus geologist, Jim Wood, of Houston, to enthusiastic applause. Dolores wanted to say a special, loving farewell to her favorite “Marys”: Mary Katherine Stram, Mary Lou Menez, Mae Barclay, Mary Kay Dingler, Mary Geraldine Henderson, Maria Dolores.
A La Diana Cazadora Que bella eres Esbelta diosa, Alzando tu arco Con gracia airosa. Te falta Diana, Tu flecha veloz, Y ese arco sin cuerda, Es un arpa sin voz. No dominas la bestia… Ya no puedes cazar… Mas, Con tu cuerpo divino Subyugas al hombre, Y verte…¡es adorar! Such as These, Dolores de Iruretagoyena de Humphrey Evening at Home (With Bitterness)
Originally published at blog.alexwaterhousehayward.com.