Exclaimed Mother Superior Josefina Ignacia De Mesa as she shot out of her chair, much to the surprise of the other occupants in the overcrowded Doctor’s Waiting Room.
All eyes were on the unbelievable sight of a fully attired elderly Nun waving a colourful magazine in her hands lost in her unexpected excitement at what she had just discovered. For the first time in 50 years, the young twenty-five-year-old ex Hippy could clearly be seen instead of the normally sedate senior woman.
As if by divine intervention Josefina suddenly became aware of the scene she had created and reverted to the present, slowly regaining her composure. It had been a long time since she felt the same as that carefree hippy with her ageing guitar and missing strings.
She sat back down, still smiling at all the flowing memories that had laid dormant for nearly all of her life. She looked back down at the magazine cover, sending her immediately back to 1969 to a large piece of farmland that would be the chosen venue for a festival that would define a generation. The Baby Boomer generation.
Mother Superior Josefina Ignacia De Mesa was born in January 1945 as Venessa Torres Mendez in Brooklyn New York. Her parents were a mixture of cultures. Her mother came from a small seaside town called Weston Super Mare in the South West of England. Her father formerly from Rio in Brazil now resident in the Big Apple.
Josefina’s parents Alberto and Rosaline met during the latter part of WW2 during the months leading up to the D-Day landings. Rosaline was an assistant to the local Catholic priest and Alberto, a GI M4 Sherman tank driver, waiting to be deployed to the restoration of Europe. Returning countries back to normality as soon as the Germans had been eradicated.
It was love at first sight for the youngsters caught up in events that were affected the whole world. The night before receiving his orders to “ship out” they had agreed to commit to each other and no other, no matter the outcome of the war.
The passion in them both went beyond their control, and Josefina was conceived under some prickly bushes in a small woodland area close to the beach and the military barracks known to the locals as Locking. Of course, neither knowing the consequences of their passion would appear a few months later on a snowy January night whilst Alberto was struggling to survive in his frozen tank in the middle of the Ardennes.
The moment Rosaline knew of her situation, she immediately wrote a small letter to Alberto. She had a close cousin who was an accountant for the local church in Brooklyn. She wrote to her pleading for help. Her ageing parents had no means to assist and were outraged with their daughter’s behaviour and the pending shame that would be heaped on the family.
The cousin agreed to act as guardian and somehow the money for the voyage was found. Rosaline arrived in New York harbour in the December of 1944.
In the meantime, for Alberto, It was a further nine months before he got word he was a father. He received his backlog of mail when he returned to conscientiousness after being rescued from his burning tank by his commander. The two were the only survivors of their five-man crew.
Alberto not only discovered he was a father. He also unearthed he would be wheelchair bound for the remainder of his life. Euphoria and despair are both overwhelming him simultaneously.
On his return back to New York the small family of three began their struggle to survive in a bustling city that never appeared to sleep. Rosaline trained as a midwife and Alberto became a Lay Minister in charge of Music. Before the war had started, it was assumed by Alberto’s family that he would follow his late father as a concert pianist. He had the gift, but, the outbreak of war changed everyone’s lives.
As a trained midwife in the baby boom years to follow Josefina’s mother was in constant demand, many nights the “The Angel of Delivery” could be seen racing around the neighbourhood on her bicycle in all sorts of weather and all hours of the day and night.
It fell onto Alberto and his wheelchair to raise Josefina. He struggled and relished the responsibility. The two were often seen heading to church together. It was during these years that Josefina grew to love the world of music. For her, it was not the piano but the guitar that became her chosen instrument.
Mother Superior had asked me to curate part 1 for her, on the agreement she would tell you her experiences in Part 2.