Paulina Fernández, my Grandmother, was born in Buenos, Aires, Argentina on the 25th January 1907.
I grew up listening to her stories and her jokes. She was full of life and love to her grandchildren, my sister Mónica and I.
The story of her parents and their odyssey is really amazing.
Her parents were originally from Granada, Spain and emigrated to Argentina at the end of the 19th Century.
Her Dad, Pedro Fernandez Ballester and her Mum, María Josefa Sánchez decided to embark to Argentina with their 6 children.
The story goes that during the 2 months long trip to the new world, cholera sprung in the ship and as a result, the couple lost 5 of the 6 children, arriving at Buenos Aires port with only the eldest of them alive. The 5 dead children had to be buried at sea.
I cannot imagine the pain of loosing one child, let alone 5 of them. Nowadays we have access to a lot of help in the name of Counselling, Psychotherapy, and many other disciplines. On those days it was nothing…
I cannot also imagine the fell of guiltiness from the parents as embarking in such adventure was definitely their decision.
Life were tough on those days and emigrating to another country involved much more risks that today.
When we emigrated to the UK, in 1990, it took as 13 hours in an aircraft, and we complained about the length of the flight!
María Josefa got married to Pedro at the early age of 12, something that today, in our society is unheard of, and started to have children almost immediately, non stop.
Having arrived to Buenos Aires with only one child, they have another 11 children to a grand total of 16. My grandmother, Paulina was the last one but one.
They lived in the “Flores” neighbourhood of Buenos Aires. A big house on the main Avenue, “Avenida Rivadavia”, which at that time was not even paved, it was just a dirty road to the wild west of Argentina, even cows used to graze in the main square.
Many years later, the house was demolished and a cinema was built. The same cinema that I used to go when I was young and living nearby.
Paulina married Horacio Lucas on the 14th March 1929 and had only one daughter, my mum, Hilda Gómez.
She died peacefully on the 2nd January 1996, in Buenos Aires, at the age of 89.