Abuela Isabel

May 11, 2013

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This Mother’s Day I want to pay homage to my mother-in-law, Isabel, who sadly, I never met but came to know and love through the stories of my husband, Carlos. She was a gentle, loving, sweet-natured woman who was passionate about books and inspired the love of reading in her children.

Isabel, her husband, Casimiro, and their five children lived most of the year in Madrid but during the weekend and summers the family would decamp to a country house in nearby Navalafuente, where they gardened, painted, swam, played soccer , bouldered and read. Every other summer we visit this house and my children get a chance to have that same experience, to have a sense of Isabel and what was important to her.

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In our living room here in California hangs a portrait of Isabel at age eight, painted in Spain by the artist Juan Bonafé. Isabel’s parents were great patrons of the arts and her father helped many artists and intellectuals escape from Spain into France during Franco’s dictatorship. Isabel sustained that legacy of supporting the arts, cultivating an extensive collection of paintings. When she passed, the only painting Carlos wanted from this collection was the portrait of his mother and so now it hangs in our living room. Every time I look at it I wonder what she was thinking as her portrait was being painted, how she had to sit still and be calm.

On the cover of the catalog for Livie & Luca’s spring collection is a photo of my daughter, Maya, in which she honors her grandmother’s memory by replicating her pose in the painted portrait. As the photo was taken, Maya looked at the portrait of Isabel across the room. She turned her head to match the pose and looked into the camera with her grandmother’s eyes.

Here’s to you, Isabel, a wonderful patient mother who I wish I’d had the chance to meet.




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