Mi Abuela Ofelia {My Grandmother Ofelia}

Mi Abuela Ofelia

My abuela (grandmother) Ofelia Oliva Arriola de Curiel was born on April 25, 1925 in Los Angeles, California. She was born to Mexican parents from Tepic, Nayarit. Her father (my great grandfather) came to California to work the railroad and kept his family in Los Angeles for awhile and then returned back to Nayarit. She was raised there with her siblings and family.

Family-mi abuela ofelia

My Abuela worked as a secretary for the Mayor of her town in Mexico at the age of 18, this is where she met the love of her life Leonardo Curiel. He was a prominent ranch owner and went into her office frequently. Ofelia married Leonardo at the age of 22. From what I was told, it was not an arranged marriage and that was much frowned upon back then. My abuela had 4 children – 3 boys and 1 girl.   In 1953, shortly after the last child was born, her husband (my grandfather) tragically passed away in a car accident. She was left a widow at the age of 28 with 4 children, the youngest 3 months old. She has expressed to me that it was the worst day of her life and she was completely devastated. She vowed never to marry again.

Mi abuela ofelia

Left with no other option, she knew that she could come to the United States and earn money to support her children. Ofelia left her children behind in Mexico knowing that after she found a job she would be able to reunite with them. She began working in a factory in Los Angeles that made airplane parts. It took her about 5-7 years to have enough money to bring her children to the US and provide for them. She raised her children here in the United States all by herself (my father, 2 uncles, and 1 aunt). Her children started and ran businesses, fought for our country in Vietnam, and also helped her open her own small business once she retired. My grandmother passed away at the age of 80 on December 9, 2005.

ofelia and sons

I truly admire my abuela’s  strength, commitment and perseverance. It takes a strong woman to go through such tragedy and continue to care for her children in any way possible. I treasure her commitment of true love and vowing to stay true to my grandfather by never marrying again. I hold in high regard her perseverance to accomplish goals and provide for her children. She is an exemplary role model for me and other generations to follow. You have left your legacy for my children and they will know a little more about who they are and where they come from.

mi abuela ofelia


Latina Mama Rama


  1. Wow.. what a strong woman! Back then I’m sure it wasn’t easy for a Mexican woman to come alone and find work, and she did it! She found work but most importantly she raised a strong family with her values– never give up.
    I’m so happy to learn more about you Ophelia 🙂 Thanks for sharing, the boys will appreciate this!

  2. What a lovely story about your grandmother. Those Latina grandmother’s are strong women. Glad you have such fond and beautiful memories of her.

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