To honor Rosa Benita Gómez Arcia after her passing, Sergio Espinoza Hernandes wrote a beautiful blog entry in Spanish which moved me to tears. To show my deep condolences to my dear friends Luis and Maria, who lost their grandmother today, I have translated the post into English so that more may know her story:
Rosa Benita Gomez Arcia, at 109 years of age the oldest woman of the Municipality of San Jorge, and perhaps the oldest of the Department of Rivas (Nicaragua), passed away today, November 20th, 2013 from pulmonary illness. Her funeral will be tomorrow.
Rosa Benita Gomez Arcia was born in San Jorge on January 5th, 1904. Her home had always been two blocks south of the park. She spent her last years living in her son Osvaldo’s house located on the east side of the cemetery.
When she was a little girl, her family took her to Granada in Spain, where she attended El Colegio Maria Auxiliadora for primary school. There, she learned to play the piano and the guitar. She was a homemaker.
Doña Rosa lived in the most densely populated urban area of the city of San Jorge. She had a very large family. She refused to succumb to her own mortality, and thus survived a very atypical century.
She was witness to great changes and developments. For example, she was born in a house of wood planks and adobe with earthen floors. Today she lived in a brick house with tiled floors. She used to pump water from wells or gather it from the lake, but today, pipes provided her home with running water.
She was witness to many great technological advancements (a technological boom if you will) such as the television, radio, electric iron, and parabolic antennas for domestic use.
Sergio Espinoza Hernandes was introduced to Doña Rosa by Hernán Morales (a historian and investigator focusing in the history of the “Georgian” culture):
She received them in the living room of her house, freshly bathed and powdered in November of 2010. She was 107. She was nearly deaf, and had to be screamed at into her right ear to be heard at all. At this point, there was already much that she had forgotten.
Doña Rosa was a very hard working woman, collecting containers of milk left to her by the local farmers very early in the morning, which she would then sell. She also owned and ran a bakery and a general supply store.
Her father Alejandro Mariano Gómez Tablada, originated from Chontales, and her mother, Agustina Arcia, from San Jorge. She married Clodualdo Bobadilla Casanova and became his widow.
My condolences to her children: Salvador, María Auxiliadora, Celia, Aída, Justo y Osvaldo. She leaves behind a legacy of 23 grandchildren, 29 great grandchildren and 2 great great grandchildren.
We have many questions for Doña Rosa, but perhaps the most poignant would be: What was the cause of her great longevity?
Was it the city in which she was born? Perhaps it is simply a matter of it being a feminine trait? Just what was her secret for reaching such old age?
And of course, it almost seems obligatory to ask all of you: Would you want to live that long?