Armida Alicia Ruiz Raptis – La Jefita

My mother or La Jefita as my ten siblings called her, passed away a year ago last month. I’ve always gone to my garden to find solace and strength by tearing into the ground, weeding, and talking to my grandmothers. My Mom loved flowers and with Nana Herminia and Nachu’s help made this for her on my garden door a year ago.

I regret she’s not here to see her stories in print, but my mother comes alive in STRETCH MARKS. One of my mother’s regret’s in life was not completing her dozen pollitos, chicks as she called us, so when Mrs. Madril beat her to the punch with eleven boys and a girl it only added insult to injury. She refused to believe I was infertile and found it difficult to talk about it with me. That vocabulary was foreign to her, but once my Man and I adopted Sofia, she was again in top grandmother form.

I dedicate this post to her and want to introduce you to La Jefita…

Chapter III – Autumn 1993


The following week, my mother and older sister, Dimi, came to visit bearing a suitcase filled with frilly pink outfits and much-needed help. They added lavender salts to the steaming bathtub, and insisted I take naps while they tended to Sofia. Every day one of my favorite meals simmered on the stove: savory meatball soup, chile con carne, and homemade chorizo wafted throughout the house. Like clockwork, right at four they brewed coffee, we wolfed down pastries, and gossiped until Marty came home. Best of all, my mother took my hand, on the third day, and told me Sofia was a very lucky little girl.

“I’m afraid,” I admitted, once the emotions caught in my throat, settled down and told her about the birth mother and the months of waiting that lay ahead. “What if she changes her mind?”

“Over my dead body,” she said. The support my mother wasn’t able to offer me during my miscarriages and ectopic surgeries, she more than made up for with those four words of enormous confidence and love. My mother had survived a stroke, three years earlier, which left her right side paralyzed, but she was still a force to be reckoned with, a lioness defending her cubs in a stylish size-eight pantsuit.

5 thoughts on “Armida Alicia Ruiz Raptis – La Jefita

  1. Liz, you give my soul peace. I feel the same about my mom and I too know about the lioness defending her cubs! Con mucho amor, mi amiga!

  2. I love the way the endearing passage makes me smile as I read “in her stylish size 8 pant-suit”. Your witty writing style is clever and bold. It easily conjures vivid images as your story comes alive in my mind. Thank you for sharing your journey.

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