Last Saturday was my sister’s bridal shower and my aunt brought some old-timey photos to share with the family. A while back, I posted some pictures of my maternal grandparents in 1950s and 60s Bogotá. Well today I thought I’d share a couple of pictures of my paternal grandparents. The first one is of their wedding in the province of Boyacá and the second one was probably taken in Bogotá, though I’m not sure of the year…sometime in the 50s or 60s, I assume.
It was my paternal grandmother who initially started my family’s migration to the U.S. I don’t know the full details of the story, but from what I know, she moved to Warren County (or was it the town of Warren?) in Ohio on a florist work visa with her two youngest children. Eventually, the older children came and stayed. Fast forward 40 years, and all my paternal uncles, aunts and cousins are living in the U.S, most within a 25 mile radius of my parents’ house. A lot of people move to the U.S for economic opportunities, but judging from my grandmother’s satin wedding dress and full-length fur coat, things don’t look like they were so bad back in Colombia, at least financially speaking. None of us here owns a fur coat, for sure.
I asked her one time what motivated her to leave the relative economic comfort of her life in Colombia for the truly difficult, challenging life she faced in the U.S with two young children and a single mother’s florist income, and she told me she wanted to provide her children with a bigger world. My grandmother was — and still is — a highly intelligent, perceptive, articulate, cultured, avant-garde lady, and maybe 1950s, 60s, 70s Colombia, with all its societal expectations and restrictions, was too small of a world for her. And while our family started out in small-town Ohio (which my most objective standards is not exactly a bigger world than Bogotá), most of us are now living within 20 miles of Washington D.C, so if my grandmother’s goal was to provide her descendants with a more open, progressive and bigger world, I think she accomplished her goal. Sure, Bogotá nowadays is a vibrant, cosmopolitan place and it’s impossible to know if we would have been better off in Colombia, but I like to think that my grandmother’s decision to move to the U.S allowed us — her children and grandchildren — to be ourselves in a way that maybe we couldn’t have been in Colombia. So thanks grams, for being a ballsy, forward-thinking lady