Posts Tagged ‘Federico Haín’

María del Carmen de los Ángeles Morales Hain R.I.P. 1/1/1933 – 1/8/2022

September 7, 2022

My dear mother: An international woman in a globalizing 20th Century (español)

She was born in Madrid’s San Antonio neighborhood. Her mother was very young so she grew up with her maternal grandparents until she became a teenager and she went to live to Lisbon for some years with her parents, who never married, and who had immigrated to Portugal during the Spanish civil war.

In Portugal she was unable to attend school because of problems with her visa, but she did learn to speak Portuguese fluently. She often had to help her mother, who was a single woman and she quickly learnt to do things on her own and get around Lisbon. After some years she returned to Madrid to live with her paternal grandparents. She was very interested in foreign languages and she enrolled in Spain’s Official Language School, where she met my father and studied German, Russian, English and French. She graduated in French and English. She also became a licensed stenographer and she kept her stenography machine all her life.

In the 50s after she graduated, she worked as an assistant teacher at Spain’s Official Language School. In 1954, Madrid’s British Council awarded her with a scholarship to study a graduate course at Cambridge University. Upon returning she started working as a bilingual secretary for the U.S. Air Force at Torrejón de Ardoz’s U.S. Air Base, where due to the dollar exchange rate she made more money than high ranking civil servants in Spain.

After almost 10 years of being with my father, she broke up with him and moved to Wiesbaden, Germany to work at a different U.S air base. She was there for almost a year but she returned to Spain and ended up marrying my father. She wore a black wedding dress because she was mourning her paternal grandfather whom she loved and admired deeply.

During my mother’s travels in Europe in the 60s she often encountered Spanish immigrants who only spoke Spanish and she helped them by being their interpreter.

After my parent’s marriage, my father was offered a job at the United Nations and they moved to Geneva, Switzerland, where they lived for two years. My mother was quickly able to find work at the U.N. International Labour Office as an International Civil Servant. In 1963, however, she was terminated for being pregnant with my oldest brother. To no avail, she appealed the decision to the U.N. but it does appear, however, that she was the last woman to be fired at the ILO for carrying a child.

My parents returned to Madrid and my mother gave birth to my oldest brother, José Ramón. She convinced and almost made my father apply for a job in New York city at Spain’s equivalent of the Department of Commerce. My father was hesitant because it involved taking a difficult English test but he passed it. Shortly after they moved to Manhattan. My mother was already a devote homemaker and in NY she gave birth to two more boys, my brother Eduardo and I.

In 1968 my mother went to Lisbon to spend some time with her mother while my father finalized his work in the Great Apple. They returned to Spain and my youngest brother Victor was born in 1970. Here is where my first memories of my mother begin. I remember she spent a lot of time cleaning the house and feeding us. My father always had a meal ready when he came home from work. During those years my mother worked on weekends at a hotel as a front desk attendant, since my father worked Monday through Friday.

In 1974 my father was transferred to Rio de Janeiro and there we lived right in front of Copacabana beach. My mother managed the apartment we lived in, the expenses and the two employees we had, a cook and a nanny. I remember she would sometimes clean the living room windows and it would scare us to death because she would lean out the window, sticking half of her body outside, and we lived in the sixth floor of a high-rise. She wasn’t one to be scared and she also didn’t fear death later in life when she realized her days were counted. In Brazil, I also remember many women coming to our home to do aerobics or yoga.

Two years later we moved to Copenhagen, Denmark. My mother said it would make us sad to leave Brazil, which I didn’t understand then but later I realized my parents were very happy in Rio.

In Denmark my mother quickly joined both the International and American Women’s Club where she was not only very active but very much loved. She had a passion for international cuisine and she perfected her cooking skills in those clubs, learning how to cook like a real chef. Sometimes she would host dinners for embassadors at home and she’d hire a cook and a waitress to make sure her meals came out the way she wanted. All this while being a full time homemaker, meaning cooking all the meals, making all of our school lunches, washing and ironing all of our clothes and managing the several fruit trees we had in our garden, never getting tired of making apple preserve. She was our right hand woman.

During the 80s the King and Queen of Spain visited Denmark and my mother helped my father organize an international reception for them for which the King awarded my father the Knight’s Cross of Spain.

In 1984 we returned to Madrid and since we, her children, were already older, my mother went back to work for the U.S. government, this time at the U.S. Embassy in Madrid. There she received various awards, among others the Meritorious Honor Award.

One story I like to tell about my mother is that she once told me she couldn’t understand why when men abandoned their wives, the women would always keep the children. “Women are dumb. If your father left me, you and your brothers will go live with him. I’m going to enjoy my life.” It shows she was both a modern woman and a feminist.

My mother was never depressed and she was a tireless, selfless woman who never complained. She was an altruist, always kind, very proper and considerate towards others. She would do everything she could to help you if she could. Many people loved and valued her.

When my father died in 2009, my mother became my best friend. She was the only person I could call at any time and talk to her about everything.

I will miss you a lot mother. Thank you for all the support, the help and the life you gave me. You were always there for me, a tremendous support. I love you and I hope that I will see you in the next world and that we can remember this life, smile and laugh together.