Memories of my America – Of Liberace and The Hope Diamond

hdColombians are prone to embellishment, to taking a story and making it even grander. It was Gabriel Marquez, the famed Colombian novelist, who proclaimed, “To Colombians, life is a stage.”

My mother has entered a delightful stage of dementia. Delightful in the sense that her already Colombian tales of life have become even more entrancing. We pick her up on the weekends, and she spends the day at our house, where my three boys and I spread her favorite blanket across her lap, much like a ceremonious draping of an ermine wrap across a queen’s shoulders.

We settle her in with Mexican cocoa — hot chocolate with a pinch of cayenne — which she sips slowly, blowing softly across the steam, and when she leans forward to set her mug down, we know we are about to hear, The Theatre of The Colombian, Part Six; where she will pick up where she left off, when she was here last.

“You know,” we all turn to see what she will floor us with today. “I had to say no when Fidel Castro asked me to marry him. Yes, he acted one way in front of our government, but I knew… he was not going to grow into a nice man. And look, I was right.” My mother reaches for her hot cocoa, blows and sips, sets it down, and begins again.

“Even with The Hope Diamond that he offered to me, I said, I couldn’t. And that was the right thing to do, because Elizabeth Taylor was the only one for that ring. So it is always for the better, as life teaches us.”




She begins again, “The candlebra he always has on his piano, that is from me. It makes me happy to see that he always has it with him.”

At this point, I had to break into her Live! For One Night Only! but I needed to tell her. She was getting her loves mixed up. “Mama,” I wait for her to look up, “Mama, I think you mean Liberace. He’s the one with the candlebra.”

Without even a few seconds of pause in bewilderment, she clarifies. “No. Liberace. Liberace I remember very well. He, too, wanted to marry me. I had to be the one to tell him he played for the other team.” Looking up at only me, she leans over, “Poor man. He hoped that my beauty could convince him otherwise. That’s why he had that diamond made. He was the first one to have it.”

“What, mama? What diamond?”

“The Hope Diamond, mija. My daughter, that’s why he called it that. He hoped it would convince him.”



Alexandra is an overanalyzing, oversensitive mother of three boys who somehow found herself named as BlogHer ’11′s Voice of The Year for Humor. She has been a mother since 1994, which means she hasn’t been right about anything since. She blogs of the sweet and the funny while trying to go unnoticed in her small town. You can find her at Good Day, Regular People. Did we mention socially awkward? We should, which is why the internet was made for her.


  1. I’m speechless, and you know that’s a rare occurrence. I guess it’s a blessing that you can say your mother has “entered a delightful stage of dementia,” but I’m sure your attitude towards life and ability to mine it for humor has much to do with it. Thank you for writing up this gem, which relates the Hope Diamond, Castro and Liberace — a threesome surely no one has ever before imagined. Love this story. Do you have a tape recorder running constantly when your mother visits?

    • Oh, Kablooey, I could talk your ear off on what a blessed turn of events this is. My mother was always a strong headed, her way woman. And now, she is softened with the dementia, and it’s a perfect ending. Sweet, captivating, and we relish her visits. My entire family.

      You’re a good soul, Kablooey.


  2. Oooh, do I ever know the Colombian tradition of embellishing everything. My own grandmother (who is one of the sharpest people I’ve ever met) has her own stories of famous lovers. My late abuelo used to say that “Colombian women like to daydream aloud.” I think he must be right!

    Aaaand now I need to go make Mexican cocoa. Yum.

    Seriously, I am loving this story. You have an amazing ability to turn what could be a dark time into a delightful trove of memories that your family can cherish forever. Thank you for sharing this. I know I don’t have to remind you of this, but your mom is a blessing.

  3. Oh the hope! Such treasures of tales. How lucky for her to have such new and fantastic memories.

    • This time is a lucky time. What I don’t mention is that our mother is in end stage kidney failure. Yup. And Dr says we have some time, and we’re blessed that she is with us in the most fantastic, wonderful, Disney Adventure like way. What a happy ending to her life. Thank you.

  4. ha. i want to have hot chocolate with your grandmother…and just sit and listen to her…ha….

    • Brian, you would love having her with you. And you know she would love you. And you know her story, of her end stage renal disease, and so, yeah. we’re soaking up every minute. Thank you for being here for me, so very many times since the year began.

  5. Should I ever develop dementia, I want memories like those.

  6. She’s so sweet, Alexandra. Thank you for sharing this. And I couldn’t help thinking that now I know where your humor and storytelling talent come from! ;-)

    I’m glad that time has been good for her memories. As has been the time spent with you and your family, I am sure.


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