For Claudia and her family, it's difficult to stay in just one place. Every three to 5 years, she and her husband have moved for work from Venezuela to Argentina, Belgium, Vietnam, Philippines, and Singapore, among shorter stays in Portugal and the U.S. When their two children were young, living in such different places felt stimulating, but when the two girls grew up and both went to university in Cincinnati, Ohio, U.S., the great distance and resulting time difference made things more challenging.
In March 2020, before her eldest daughter’s graduation, the prospect of a ban on flights from Asia prompted Claudia to fly to Cincinnati. She thought that at least one parent had to be at the ceremony! Soon the university closed, though, and the traditional graduation in hat and gown was replaced with a simple online formality. Her daughter was devastated until she realized that it was just the beginning of a new “normal.” Claudia was not prepared to be separated from her husband for 6 months but losing the concept of time while with her children was a wonderful experience. Back in Singapore in September, the harshness of the imposed quarantine in a hotel room from which it was absolutely forbidden to leave was mitigated by the company of her husband, who voluntarily chose to quarantine with her. In those 15 days, Claudia immersed herself in the world of art. She says that finding my work was a revelation. She wrote me and treasured my advice to find local art classes, and, I would say, with excellent results!
However, the tragedy hit Claudia in December, when four family members died in Venezuela in the space of just 17 days. First it was her aunt who died from the virus. Her mother had not been informed of the loss of her sister. She had heart problems, and two private nurses cared for her 24/7. This did not protect her from getting infected, and she died at home, amid a refusal by the private hospitals to admit patients with Covid and the delay of the ambulances from the public hospitals due to lack of fuel. Just afterward, another two uncles died.
Claudia says that when she and her husband retire, they will split their time between Cincinnati and Cascais, her husband’s hometown in Portugal. Venezuela, a country in deep economic crisis, is not an option, but the family ties are the real roots.