Aunt Lucy, “Lucinda” was born on May 6, 1900 at the Solis Ranch in the community of Faywood, Territory of New Mexico two years before New Mexico was admitted into the United States as the 47 state. Her father’s sister, Ramona Torres, my namesake, sponsored her in baptism. Lucinda was the third child of Francisco Torres and Andrea Donaldson. She spent her youth at the family ranch next to the Mimbres River, Grant County, New Mexico, helping Little Grandma raise the rest of the brood. As her siblings left their childhood home to begin lives of their own, Aunt Lucy remained behind. She helped her parents with daily chores on the ranch and helped raise the younger ones. Her sister Anita led the way to California, followed by Dora and then, in 1923 by Esther. When she was 25, Aunt Lucy, Grandma and the younger children made their way west.
During her ninety-seven years, Lucy earned no formal degree, received no honors, never married and had no children. The legacy of her life is found in the devotion, love and service she unselfishly gave to the care of her ever-growing extended family. Her eleven brothers and sisters gave her twenty-five nieces and nephews to love and who in turn loved her dearly.
Lucy spent her life looking after the needs of others. She worked as a housekeeper, laundress, and a companion to the elderly. She was devoted to her mother Andrea who she cared for until her death. Lucy spent years cooking, cleaning and providing care and guidance to young children. None of us can think about Aunt Lucy without remembering her as the loyal, quiet sister who looked after everyone: Grandma, nieces and nephews and throughout their lives, her brothers and sisters.
I lived next door to Grandma and Lucy in a small, cramped little house until I was ten. At some point, my sister Toni and I moved to a little room adjacent to Aunt Lucy’s room at the main house she shared with Grandma in South Pasadena. We shared her home, her bathroom and the attention of her mother, our Grandma. I have no memory of Auntie every speaking a cross word, complaining about our bratty behavior or demonstrating anything but quiet reserve. She was the kindest of all; devoting her life to helping her family lead lives made easier because she was there: forever working hard, helping those who were ill, doing the most thankless of tasks; always selfless.
Lucy was different than her siblings. Most in the family did not inherit the gene that made Lucy the ever bashful, quiet reserved woman she was. Aunt Lucy was blessed with enviable qualities. She possessed patience unmatched. She found happiness in the lives of other: the smile of a child, the shenanigans of her sisters and brothers and in the love of a large family. She never sought the spotlight, never needed the last word, and never gossiped. She was a saint.
Aunt Lucy was a religious person. As a very young child, I remember kneeling on the hard kitchen flood in front of the radio. She, Grandma, Toni and I were led in prayer by the announcer on the Catholic station and prayed the rosary devoutly. I recall years later when she lived in the back house of my family’s El Sereno home that she attended mass every Sunday and just as routinely, stopped at the marked on her way
home. “What did you buy, Auntie?” I would ask, teasing. She would smile. I knew that there was a little cold can inside that small paper bag. Auntie had her little vices.
She had a special relationship with her oldest brother Tony. Their life together in the stone house just below the peaks of the Sierras was a step back in time. She moved there in the late 1970’s to care for Antonio who was one year her senior. Life was simple, the living conditions harsh, and the devotion they shared, rare. All who visited the little stone home in the Owens Valley, in the high desert of California were treated to enchanting family stories and learned the perspective gained from a combined 180 years of experiences. Amazing!
Time passed and they sometimes forgot that times had changed. Once she and Uncle Tony were stopped by the Highway Patrol who pulled them over for going too slow down busy Highway 395 outside of Olancha. The officer discovered that Lucy was sipping a cool one and gave them a ticket for “open container.”
“When did they pass that law?” she asked.
The years passed, life in the desert got a little too harsh, and Tony and Lucy moved to a retirement home in the big city where they continued to look after each other to the end.
Her golden heart, her ready smile and her quiet nature will forever touch us. Her lasting gift to us is the model she was of what it means to be family.
Aunt Ida said to me recently that, “Lucy was always an angel.” Today we know she has her wings.
Written by her niece R. Torres January 31, 1998