My very first memory of Silvia is from when I was four and she was five and my parents left my brother and me in New Orleans with her family for a week so they could take a trip. Chivi (Silvia's nickname) was so fun and a GIRL which made her so much BETTER than my brother who I was usually stuck playing with! I remember she was all fired up about these canteens we could get if we sent in Rice Krispie box tops. Which her mom did, because her mom rocked. Chivi was also good at the kinds of games I liked to play which generally involved long imaginative scenarios sometimes where we were princesses or pirates if my brother wanted to play. Here is a photo from that visit of the three of us with her mom.
She and her family are inextricably woven into all the things that make me myself. This is a visit in 1971 to our house in San Antonio. Silvia is next to me on the front row. We are pictured here with all her siblings (except her oldest brother who was still in Cuba), her parents, my mom, my brother, and my mom's brother. They had a big and awesome family. You can't contain that much awesome in just a couple of kids. Even so, Silvia was the mother lode of treasure.
When her oldest sister, Carmen, (pictured above in the orange striped top) came to live with us to go to college, Chivi was fine with it, right up until Carmen was leaving and she realized that she wasn't going with her, at which point she was pretty upset. I found out why, as Carmen is aces at older sistering, and I got a dose of that in the years she lived with us. I would have been pissed too. Typically, Silvia never seemed mad at me about it.
Silvia is pictured here in the top porthole, followed by her sister Hope just below. Carmen and I are in the bottom row.
Silvia and I went on our first diets together and stayed up all night talking to boys on the phone and walked all dressed up and excited to the Jack in the Box up the street, LIKE ADULTS, and feathered our hair. I remember hanging out with Chivi and singing I Think I Love You at the top of our lungs (but what am I so afraid of?) to annoy her older glamorous gorgeous sisters (I'm afraid that I'm not sure of a love there is no cure for). We were very good at being annoying.
Last summer things looked dire, and I rushed to Orlando to see her, having found out that she was to be released to hospice care. The bowel obstruction, that was thought to be her tumor though, partially cleared the night before I got there, and the Silvia I got to see was purely, and sweetly, her sunshiny self. She was lively and funny and chatty and my husband, Jeff, and I spent all day there soaking her in. The picture below is from that day. I am so very grateful for that one day, especially since it has to last me forever now. I was lucky to get it.
*Wildflowers Tom Petty