My great-grandmother Carlina Clelia Pazmiño gave this chaquira (pronounced cha-kee-ra) necklace to my grandmother, Sabina Griselda Villarreal Gómez, and Sabina recently gave it to my aunt Puchi. Like Carlina and her family, the necklace came from Panama to the United States. The chaquira necklace is associated with Panama and Central America. Carlina, nicknamed “Caky” (pronounced Ka-kee), was born in Ecuador, but soon moved to Panama City, Panama, where she had four children.
In 1955, Caky moved from Panama to Miami, Florida to continue working for an American family; however, they treated her poorly in Miami and Caky stopped working for them. Caky became a nanny for another family and was reunited with my grandmother in 1959, when Sabina moved to Miami. Sabina worked at the St. Francis Hospital and married a recently arrived Cuban immigrant, Manuel Arsenio Gómez. They had three children Griselda “Puchi,” Eliza “Titi,” and Manuel “Toti.” Sabina helped Caky get a job at St. Francis Hospital. Years later, my mother, Titi, became the first in her family to graduate from college. She earned a nursing degree from the University of Miami and later a Masters of Science in Nursing. She is currently a manager at Jackson Memorial Hospital as she studies to become a nurse practitioner. The photo of Titi’s masters’ graduation shows the generations of women who have shared the necklace in order form left to right: Puchi, two of her daughters, Sabina, Titi, Tía Pola, and Caky.
– Magdalena Valenti