Condolences go out to the Francia family in the loss of their plucky and outspoken matriarch, Mama Alice. (Tita Alice to me.) Tita Alice was my paternal grandmother’s first cousin, which made her my third-degree great-aunt, I think. (The Filipino concepts of “cousin” and “aunt” differ, however, from the American language. I need to look into that and explain it to you sometime.)
[Update: Bam tells me she’s my “first cousin twice removed.” I really cannot imagine thinking of someone of more than a generation up as a “cousin.” For me it’s always been “tita” (aunt) or “lola” (grandma).]
I first met Tita Alice here in the DC area via her daughter, a good friend of my uncle and aunt in NoVA. Still strong as an ox and tough as nails at 90 years old, she would regale me with stories of my father’s childhood, and the capers of my Filipino-Spanish forebears who lived in colonial times. It was through Tita Alice that I discovered that I have a fraction of French blood via my great-great aunt Calixtra Ordoveza (fourth or fifth degree, I think, and the French ancestry came from a direct ancestor above her). Tita Alice would tell me on more than one occasion that Lola Calixtra had a chronically twitchy eyelid, which caused her to grow a line of gentlemen suitors from all over the colony, men who thought she had been winking at them.
I wish I could have written down more of these stories of my ancestors that Tita Alice told me, but alas, I never got to it before she died of a stroke earlier this week. She will be much missed, by her wonderful family, by her many piano students, by myself, and by many others whose lives she inspired with the strength and vigor that sustained her right up till her very last hours. May she rest in peace till the promised Day of Rising comes.
RIP Alice Francia, May 1915 – February 2006