Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Her Dream Became My Dream

Her name was Etelvina Garcia, but I'd learn to call her by "abuela del campo," which in spanish translates literally to "grandmother of the farm." Her name was given to her because of her humble roots. She was born in Cuba, raised in the simplest of forms, and married a man she would spend over 50 years with. All that is left of her is an old black and white picture of her wedding day. There she sits in a beautiful gown that was designed and produced with her own two hands.

And that's how it began...Her dream. It was no secret that sewing to "abuela del campo," was more than a passion. It became her life! I can remember as a child sitting across the tiny room where two industrial machines took most of the space wondering how this process worked. Fabric she cut, stretched, tugged and pulled became a dress; and as a child it appeared to me as if my grandmother secretly made magic. It was a room of threads and fabrics where a fairy, with her magic, made the most beautiful gowns!

I later grew up used to seeing her sew and grew quite used to it. The magic had lost, well its "magic," and her industrial Juki machines became monsters that ate up her time. It was when Abuela saw me old enough to understand that she told me a couple of times how her dream had always been to open a Bridal atelier where she could spend the rest of her life in.

I saw her struggle in her dream and this frustrated me. I couldn't understand why language had become such an issue for her. Why the money she earned from working in a factory that produced children clothing never made it into a savings where she could later use to bring the dream to fruition. Instead, I saw her work hard in order to get her family ahead in life. She really wanted them to "make it in this country" that had offer her the opportunity to start anew. Unfortunately, she died nesting the idea of someday owning a bridal atelier.

She made sacrifices to an extent I will never fully comprehend. I don't doubt she must have felt frustrated at times, cried at other times in private, or even saw hope slip through her fingertips, but one thing is for certain, we never saw the pain. We were her life and this was a fair trade for the dream that would never be.

At the time of her death, I understood that dreams do not begin and do not end. They are like laughter, and infect those who are around it long enough. In fact, her dream has kept me connected to her even far after her departure. Her dream became my dream and it is with the greatest of love that I dedicated my first collection to her. My achievement has become hers and Jorge Manuel has become a bridal designer thanks to the beautiful memories she left me with. I now embark in a journey where I too will be able to make magic and turn fabric into beautiful bridal gowns. I hope my work makes her proud and I hope my work reaches many dreams, including all those brides who wish to feel beautiful on the most important day of their life. May your dreams become mine and may her dream become my reality.

Etelvina Garcia (1926-2000)

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