Can you imagine what it would be like to go your whole life thinking your mother had been dead for decades, only to suddenly discover it was all a lie? This is precisely what happened to Ramona Altamirano, from Córdoba, Argentina. When Ramona asked her father at the age of eight what had happened to her mother, whom she had never met, his response was brief and welcomed no more questions. «Your mom is dead and that’s the end of it.» Her mother supposedly died when she was just 7 months old, which is when Ramona went to live with her grandmother. Four years later, her grandmother passed away and Ramona then moved in with an aunt.
As she grew older, Ramona began to hear other stories about her mother, and started to put two and two together. «I heard that she and my dad had had a fight and then she abandoned us.» Ramona’s cousin came to visit once and told her that she had seen Ramona’s mom on the street. But her aunt quickly and abruptly ended the conversation.
Even though Ramona suspected something was going on, she decided to move on with her own life. She got married and had four children. But she always wondered whether her mother had in fact died or abandoned her or whether something terrible had happened to her.
In spite of Ramona’s reluctance, her family started looking for her mother secretly. Her husband, Enrique, hired a private detective and her daughter, Ivana, began a search that would last over 10 years. She checked electoral rolls, visited ladies who turned out not to be her, contacted a TV program specialised in searching for missing persons, and even turned to Facebook. But sadly all her attempts were in vain. Finally, Ramona gave in and handed her daughter the only thing she had left from her mother: a birth certificate with her mother’s full name — Blanca Rosa Taborda.
Ivana then went to the civil registration office with the document, and her world came crumbling down. She saw the clerk return holding a piece of paper and was convinced it was a death certificate. But much to her surprise, what she gave her instead was an address! Finally, after 10 years of searching, hoping and being disappointed time and again, Ivana had a location — a place she could go to to try and locate her grandmother. Without hesitating a second, she got into a taxi, told the taxi driver the story and where to go, and off they went.
«It was a boardinghouse, with a long corridor. I cried from the moment I saw her until she was by my side. It was my mother’s face, only older. I didn’t know what to say to her. I am Ramona Altamirano’s daughter, do you know who she is?» And she paused, took a deep breath and said,»How can I not know? It’s my baby,» Ivana recalled her saying. The taxi driver, moved by the story and the encounter, took the following picture:
And this same photo was the one Ivana showed Ramona. Her heart stopped when she saw it — her mother was alive! After 54 years without her in her life, not knowing if she was dead or alive, she could finally see her again.
The story of what happened to Blanca is really quite sad: when Ramona was 7 months old, her mother became seriously ill and was hospitalized. But when she returned to find Ramona, she was no longer living with her mother-in-law and her aunt angrily sent her away.
Blanca began to drift through life. She spent years living on the streets and had two other children in that time (one who died and one born with a severe disability). When Ivana found her, she was selling stamps and candles at the door of a church. However, despite her precarious situation, she always kept looking for her daughter and whenever she saw girls passing by, she always thought they could be her. But now it seemed that life had given her a second chance. In December of 2015, Ramona traveled with all her family to meet her mother. As it turns out, she lived just an hour away from her house!
When Blanca hugged her daughter for the first time in 54 years, she said: «I’ve been looking for you all my life, I’ve waited for this moment all my life, I just wanted to see you again before I died.»
For these two women, now 56 and 86 years old, a new life has begun: new memories, new joyous moments, and hundreds of celebrations together with the family await them. For 54 years they kept alive the hope of seeing each other again, and now they can rebuild that bond that unites mother and daughter and that lasts a lifetime. What a beautiful end to a story tinged with so much tragedy and the harsh hand of fate. We wish them a very happy life together.