Stories of Lola and Fernando, great-grandparents +100 years, and 82 years of marriage

María Dolores and Fernando are 103 and 101 years old. They married in 1941, are now 82 years old, and have 6 grandchildren and 15 great-grandchildren, "a blessing". They are regulars at the parish of La Asunción (Madrid). We spoke with great-grandfather Fernando and his daughter Margarita (a grandmother of almost 80 years), on the occasion of the World Day of Grandparents and the Elderly on Sunday, July 23.

Francisco Otamendi-July 26, 2023-Reading time: 4 minutes

Photo: Lola and Fernando in Madrid

The parish remembers the 75th anniversary of Lola and Fernando's marriage, which they celebrated with family members and the pastor Pedro Pablo Dones at the Assumption, in 2016. In their home there is the Apostolic Blessing of His Holiness Pope Francis, signed by the then Nuncio Renzo Fratini, and dated December 27, 2016.

Lola and Fernando were married in 1941 in the church on Doctor Esquerdo, on the corner of O'Donnell, which no longer exists. "We had to get married there because the one in Manuel Becerra square was burned in the war". Fernando is referring to Nuestra Señora de Covadonga, which was later rebuilt in several phases and reopened in 1953.

Curiously, by sheer coincidence, the marriage took place in the same year (1941) that his current Parish of the Assumptionalthough they were far from knowing it at the time. This is recorded in a booklet entitled 'Parroquia Asunción de Nuestra Señora', whose prologue was signed by the parish priest Pedro Pablo Dones on December 31, 2013, and which tells the ups and downs of the creation of the new parish in Ciudad Jardín. 

That square, Manuel Becerra, Fernando continues, "was called the square of joy, because it was where the relatives of the dead said goodbye to the dead in the burials, to take them to the Almudena, and where the Roma optician's is now, that building was a regional soccer field. I played soccer in the Campana. It was called that way because the owner of that property, where TVE is, was the Tejar de Sixto, and he had a bell, which indicated the workers". 

"I cut bricks there when I was 9 years old. After the war, a soccer field was built there. I played defense on that team," says Fernando, who went from worker to industrialist and set up a plastics manufacturing factory in Arganda. 

A love that lasts

His recollections are full of facts, and he jumps from one to another. First of all, he says: "My wife had a stroke several years ago and can hardly speak". Indeed, Fernando is the one who calls the shots. But intuition leads us to think that, perhaps, the more religious person of the two is her, something that is later confirmed by his daughter Margarita, who will be 80 this year. Her sister Paloma is a little older, she is 81.

What do you like most about your wife, we ask Fernando with a certain impertinence. And he answers quickly: "Everything. She has been in bad shape for many years now, as a result of a stroke, which left her paralyzed on her right side. She realizes things, although there are times when she is not able to read. Now she no longer reads. Since she turned 103, she has suffered a decline".

The couple's two daughters, Paloma and Margarita, have had three children each, and their husbands, both from Almeria, are deceased (Paloma's is the most recent). Between them they have 15 grandchildren, who are great-grandchildren of Lola and Fernando.

Insurance protests, a grandfather threatened...

Fernando speaks with pride about his grandchildren who are lawyers, doctors, a nurse..., and he even puts it in his letters and writings. The eldest of the great-grandchildren is a nurse in her thirties, and she has a sister who is a lawyer and economist, and then she has a computer engineer, another with a degree in economics, and so on.

A few months ago, Fernando wrote to the Minister of Labor, because as a result of his wife's stroke, he had to hire a maid, and he claims that "there was a mess in the insurance payments", a rise, come on. And he sent letters to numerous media outlets. Fernando praises "the best caregiver we have achieved", Fatima, who takes care of his wife.

Margarita tells us that her grandfather on her mother's side, José, was a linotypist and proofreader at 'El Debate', and that don Angel Herrera Oria, its founder, wrote an eulogistic article when he passed away. One of my mother's brothers worked at 'YA', a continuation of 'El Debate', and another brother worked at 'Marca', Margarita points out.

The daughter recalls that during the war, "the militiamen" went to look for her grandfather to shoot him in the Casa de Campo, for working in a Catholic newspaper. But a friend interceded, saying that he had five children, and in the end he was not shot.

"She with daughters, me with work."

What has helped them love each other the most, we ask Fernando. The great-grandfather does not seem to go into the subject, but he points out: "The struggle. She with the daughters, and me with the work, surpassing ourselves every day". Fernando tells us, for example, that he has worked in the best goldsmith factories, because my profession is steel engraver, which means making steel molds, and then hundreds and hundreds of pieces are made there".

Fernando adds that coming to his current home was because his wife's mother was hit by a cab, and a daughter, Margarita, brought her to him. "My wife was coming from where we lived, in Menorca Street, to help my daughter, and I was coming from work to pick up my wife and go home".

As for the parishes, "when we lived on Menorca Street we used to go to the Sacramentinos, on Lope de Rueda. Since we have been living here, we go to La Asunciónalways looking for the most favorable schedule for her," he specifies.

"We need grandparents!"

Pope Francis has sent a message to the world message on the occasion of the World Day of Grandparents and the Elderly to be celebrated on July 23, which was echoed by Omnes. 

Among other things, the Holy Father encouraged young people to never forget the roots and history of their families, and invited them to learning from elders and value the gift of life they receive from them. In his message, the Pope appeals to all to celebrate the grandparentsWe would like to thank them for their love and dedicate a special day to them during the year.

Moreover, the Pontiff stressed: "Yes, it is the elderly who transmit to us the sense of belonging to the holy People of God. The Church, like society, needs them. They bring to the present a past that is necessary for building the future. Let us honor them, let us not deprive ourselves of their company and let us not deprive them of ours, let us not allow them to be discarded!".

The authorFrancisco Otamendi

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