A beautiful example of a short memoir, written by Carlos Lopez, Las Cruces Sun News reporter, a few days ago. Happy Birthday, Isabel! Include the details about cookies, education and life lessons in your story, just like he did.
Carlos Andres López, Las Cruces Sun-News Published 6:13 p.m. MT Oct. 3, 2017 | Updated 8:21 p.m. MT Oct. 3, 2017
(Follow the link to see photos by Josh Bachman/Sun-News)
MESILLA PARK – A life devoted to working hard and maintaining a strict diet of fresh food has paid off for longtime Mesilla Park resident Isabel Valles Uribe, who celebrated her 105th birthday last week surrounded by over 150 family members and friends.
“Trabajè todo mi vida muy duro (I’ve worked hard all my life),” Uribe said Tuesday while sitting in the living room of her Mesilla Park home, where she and her late husband, Concepcion Uribe, retired after operating a general store in San Miguel from 1947 to 1972.
“My mother is very loving and patient — it’s amazing,” her daughter, Flavia Pavia, said.
Isabel was born in Artesia on Sept. 27, 1912, about eight months after New Mexico became the 47th state in the United States. Her parents were Jose and Tomasita Valles, and she was the eighth of 16 children, according to Pavia.
At age 10, Isabel moved from Artesia to Vinton, Texas, with her parents and siblings, Pavia said. The family then relocated to the southern Doña Ana County community of La Mesa in 1924 and later settled in nearby San Miguel in 1926.
Pavia said her mother never attended school as a child but taught herself to how read and write in English and Spanish. Isabel spent her childhood helping her mother care for younger siblings, and later worked as a field worker, picking cotton and peas.
In 1935, she married Concepcion. The following year, Pavia, the couple’s first child, was born. They also had two sons, Homero and Renato. The Uribe family lived in San Miguel, where they opened Concho’s Mercantile in 1947.
“They both ran the business until 1972,” said Pavia, who grew up working in the store. “It was a general store and we sold everything from clothing and shoes to fresh meat.”
After retiring in 1972, the couple relocated to Mesilla Park and spent their retirement traveling to places such as Mexico City and other areas, Pavia said. Concepcion died in 2003 at age 95; their son Renato died in 2015 at age 75.
In addition to three children, they have 14 grandchildren, 24 great grandchildren and seven great-great grandchildren, Pavia said.
Today, Isabel enjoys relatively good health — something she and her daughter attribute to a lifetime of working hard and eating right.
“Mama does not eat anything canned. Fresh veggies, she says, that’s the best thing for you,” Pavia said, adding that her mother “has great faith in the Lord.”
But she also has a sweet tooth and regularly bakes batches of oatmeal cookies, or galletas, from a beloved recipe she learned years ago. Her secret? She flavors them with a hint of cinnamon, which she said makes them “very tasty.”
She’s also been making homemade tamales for many decades and still helps spread fresh masa on corn husks when making them with her daughter.
She stays active with housework, tending to her six chickens and playing the board game Rummikub.
Over the past weekend, she celebrated her birthday with large party at a church with more than 150 people in attendance, Pavia said. “Ever since her 100th birthday, we’ve celebrated really big,” she added.
One her gifts included a certificate of recognition from Gov. Susana Martinez that was delivered to her home on Monday. “I wish you many blessings and hope that special day is celebrated with the love of family and friends,” Martinez’s certificate states.
She and her youngest brother, Cleto Valles, 87, are the last of their siblings still living, according to Pavia. “We keep saying, ‘Thank God we have her for another year’ — that is wonderful,” she said.
Heads up–not many of us are blessed to live to 105, please don’t wait.
Now go, be inspired, and write your family’s stories. You can do it!