Manuela’s story is sad but she was the most fun and life loving. She had a small frame, gorgeous flowy dark hair, a gypsy spirit, walking around barefooted, and using only the thinnest sheer veils to cover her hair.

Manuela was born in Argentina, in the very early 1900’s, to an Argentinian mother and a Lebanese father. When she was four, her father kidnapped her from her mother, and they boarded a ship from Buenos Aires to Lebanon. Once in Lebanon, Manuela became Fatima, and her father married a storybook type evil stepmother.

Fatima grew up very sad, mistreated by her step mother and younger siblings. She used to tell us her true mom, Maria, visited her every night, sat next to her bed, and patted her head until she fell asleep. We wish we knew Maria’s last name, because my grandmother, Manuela, yearned for her and taught us all to love her. She used to say she had forgotten her face but not her warmth. Who knows what happened to Maria, in Buenos Aires, in the early 1900’s, after she woke up to find Manuela gone. We hope she had many other children who were a lot like my grandmother.

Manuela married happily and lived very long, more than a hundred years. In her very final year, she could only remember two names, Maria, and Soaad. Soaad, however, is another story, for another day.

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