About Delfina Morales (Cardona)
Mama Fina's Life
(Prepared by Daniel Chavez, based on interviews with MamaFina during the month of December 2005)
On April 7th David Cardona forgot her daughter's birth date and told the person who was preparing her birth certificate to put down "today's date." This happy mistake has led to some confusion over the years as to Mama Fina's actual age, but we are pretty sure she was born on December 24th 1923. She turned 84 on December 2006. Mama Fina lived a full and sometimes adventurous life and this is only a taste of her story (as told by her) that is too big to fit on any piece of paper.
Maria Delfina Cardona Pulido (known to her grandchildren as Mama Fina) was the daughter of a David R. Cardona Rivera, a military captain for the Mexican Federal Government ("Capitan Primero de Caballeria") and Ramona Pulido Castillo, mother and avid gardener. Her mother and father met in Canatlan, Durango. David was eighteen and Ramona was fourteen when they married. Prior to the Mexican Revolution, David and Ramona moved to Guadalajara Mexico where Maria Delfina was born. Since Maria Delfina's was born into a wealthy family, consequently her Baptismal party lasted for 8 days straight! Her baptism was attended by military officers and her godfather was a Military Colonel. Among the many gifts given to her at her baptism were necklaces of silver and gold. Maria Delfina had three sisters Carmen, Luz, Irene and a brother Jose.
During the Mexican Revolution her father broke his allegiance with the Mexican federal government whose practices he strongly disagreed with, and aligned with the lower-class indigenous movement led by Emiliano Zapata. After the Revolution was over, her father journeyed to Durango, Mexico to begin his mining business leaving his wife and his children alone in Mexico City. While in Mexico City, Ramona and her son worked at a restaurant, working all day and sometimes well into the evening. Maria Delfina was in charge of taking care of her sisters, Carmen and Lucita, and during this time never left the house until her mother and brother returned. Meanwhile, her father would write to them. Unfortunately, due to a severe injury, David Cardona could not return to Mexico City, so her family began a long journey to meet up with him in Durango.
Journey to Durango
In their journey to rejoin with their father, the Cardona family traveled many places, using many modes of transportation, sometimes traveling long distances solely by foot. One of their destinations was Queretaro, where they stayed at the Convento de Capuchinas. This was during Mexico's Cristero War (1926-1929) when the Catholic Church and its followers were in violent conflict with the Mexican government. At the convent, military officers gave the Cardona family sanctuary due to Ramona's status as a military officer's wife. Many of the churches including the convent were closed and empty due to the war, and in the convent the Cardona family was kept safely clandestine.
In their journey, the Cardona family was also fortunate enough to find work in a traveling circus name "ALEGRIA." The circus allowed them to travel and got them closer to their destination while they worked for food and shelter. Her mother and brother worked in cleaning up for the circus and she helped to clean clothes for the stars of the show. The owner of the circus wanted her and her family to learn acrobatics and be a part of the show, but her mother declined the offer. When the circus decided to change its route in Guanajuato, the Cardona family left the circus and continued their long journey to Durango.
When they finally met up with David Cardona, he was now an owner of a mine in Sierra de Sapioris, Durango. During this time, Maria Delfina would assist her father in his mining business: she would count and sift for gold and carried water to the mine on her back.
Sadly, David Cardona was later murdered by his business associate.
When Maria Delfina was just fifteen-years old, she learned how to box. This was to help her brother, Jose, train for boxing matches that would earn money for the family. While living in Santa Barbara, Chihuahua, Maria Delfina became a pretty good boxer. Her brother, or El Norteno (his boxing name), had to train for a fight every month. Sadly, Jose died soon after his father's death. After a night of heavy drinking, Jose Cardona, 18 years old, was stabbed by a group of men who mistook Jose for someone else.
Youth and Middle Age
At age 16, Maria Delfina met Indalecio Morales whom she eventually married and had 10 children, eight daughters and two sons.
Indalecio worked as a miner in Santa Barbara and Maria Delfina, when she was not busy raising her eight daughters, became an entrepreneur, selling among many things: soda, clothes and crowns for the Festival of the Dead. When she moved to Juarez she was also known as a spiritual healer. Many of her daughters eventually grew up and immigrated to the U.S., marrying and having children of their own. In the 1960's Mama Fina eventually immigrated to the U.S. herself and lived in East Los Angeles, Hawaiian Gardens and finally Norwalk, California.
In her elder years, Mama Fina continually cultivated and added to her collection of toys, mementos, gifts, visitor's disregarded items (which she pleasantly claimed as her own), pictures, holiday decorations and Christmas manger's gathered throughout her life. She became skilled at ceramics and making anything you could think of out of milk cartons and things that the unwise person would call junk. She spent her days cozily watching telenovelas (Spanish soap operas), solving her favorite crossword puzzles, threatening unruly grandchildren with her chancla, artfully preparing delicious Mexican food, providing spiritual guidance, and dropping a kernel of wisdom here and there mostly gone unnoticed, except for the wise who listened. In between her quilting and napping she enjoying watching her daughters sing, dance and gossip when they came to visit, and in mid-nap would occasionally interrupt her daughters ("mis pajaritos" she called them) with a joke, reprimand, or story—that is, if she was lucky her daughter's would let her get a word in. A visit from her grandchildren or great-grandchildren always put a smile on her face. Upon leaving her house she would often hold a young grandchild's hand with her own delicate, soft white hand and with a stern face tell her grandhild to behave well. "And if you behave badly…" she would say, "you better invite me." Her wit and memory were sharp until the end.
Mama Fina was a strong, beautiful, intelligent and amazing woman. In all her life she was a military captain's daughter, a sister, a circus-hand, a miner, a boxer, a healer, an entrepreneur, a cook, an artist, a loving and hardworking wife, mother, grandmother, and great-grandmother. Mama Fina had 12 children (two adopted), 24 grandchildren, 34 great grandchildren, and one great-great grandchild soon to come. She was loved by all and will be greatly missed.
Delfina "Mama Fina" Morales's Timeline
December 24, 1922
Guadalajara, Jalisco, Mexico
August 1, 2007
Norwalk, Los Angeles, California, United States
August 6, 2007
Long Beach, CA, California, United States