La mujer que acompaño a Vicente de Ametzaga Aresti  

Gure Ama

(Our Mother)


Marie Clark


Two doctors from Madrid came to visit the Medical Records Department because they were interested in opening a program like it in the hospital where they worked. We gave them a tour, and before leaving they left their cards so we could contact them if any of us went to Spain. Months later when I was preparing my trip to San Sebastian I got in touch with those doctors. We agreed that they would come to Barajas airport to meet me.  Before my trip to Euskadi, aita and ama gave me a wonderful Canon camera, one that used rolls of film, not a digital like we have today. I liked taking pictures, and I got a lot on this trip, but in picture-taking Xabier always beat ama and me in terms of quality. He has an eye for photography, and he has an artistic and technical ability that makes him a very good photographer. Personally I always thought it is an art that enriches our lives.

The whole family came with me to the airport in Maiquetía, and I still remember that when I said goodbye to everyone and was walking down the runway and neared the stairs to board the plane, I heard the cry of ama "Miren".  She was calling to give me a last farewell. Maybe she thought there was that possibility that I would settle in Euskadi with a job, or because I was going alone adventure, or as an omen, but I turned around and smiled to encourage her. Although the trip was good all night, at dawn we were still flying over the Atlantic. The plane began to shake violently and it was as if we lost height for a few seconds. One of the passengers near my seat went to the cockpit, and when he returned asked if I was afraid, and I understood the reason for his question.  I categorically denied I was terrified but then he said slowly that we had lost an engine and the pilot was preparing to make an emergency landing. I looked out the window and saw no land anywhere. I began to pray fervently. After a while that seemed centuries, the pilot said we were going to land in Lisbon without going into much explanation. And there before our eyes we spotted land. Soon we could see terracotta roofed houses everywhere. We stayed in a nice hotel where we spent the rest of the day and night before leaving for Madrid on the evening of the second day. After leaving the luggage we ate; the dessert was a delicious cream cake. Then they gave us a tour of several hours through the historic center of this picturesque city that has hills, some very steep that not even the bus could climb. During the war, Lisbon was one of the few European Atlantic ports in a neutral country, so it became a gateway for the excape of many refugees. When we arrived at Barajas (Madrid’s airport) it was dark. I had planned my trip to connect by train to San Sebastian. The two doctors were waiting for me despite the delays and took me to the Atocha station to take the train to San Sebastian, but not before asking me all sorts of questions, and I gave them a copy of my notes. They were really interested. I was able to get a train that night and I arrived at the North Station in San Sebastian as eight hours later. My stay in San Sebastian was very good and both Begoña and I had a great time.  But now both of us were more mature and we each thought more seriously about building a future than previous years. Some time later one of the doctors wrote that they had managed to open the program and offered me a job. I was glad I could help with anything, but I had my plans for my college degree in Caracas. In San Sebastian I also had opportunities to implement the program and perhaps a job for me, but due to budgetary problems, they offered to pay half of what I was making in Caracas.


After this trip in 1963 I returned home with the idea that it was better for us to buy an apartment than to rent. Aunt Juli had just bought a very nice studio apartment in a tall apartment house in San Sebastian and I caught her enthusiasm to make a similar investment. We then lived in "Edifico Naiguatá,” a well located apartment, spacious and sunny, but rented. Nearby under construction there was a beautiful condo building that we visited on a Sunday after Mass.

We loved it, especially our father.  It had magnificent views of the golf course and Mount Avila, while it was in a central location. There were gardens all around, a swimming pool, a small playground for children, and a golf course that gave us all a sense of peace even amid the noisy Avenida Miranda. We had a family meeting to discuss the cost and the household income. At that time only aita, my sister and I worked. Bingen could not work because he was in his first year in medical school, and that absorbed all his free time. We could make monthly payments but the problem was the down payment. We were discouraged when ama with a satisfied smile gave us a big surprise. She was always responsible for juggling the available resources, and had been secretly saving with the same idea in mind.  Now she had saved enough to start our project successfully. So we bought a beautiful apartment in Campo Alegre.

The pool was one of the things we liked in this new house. My brothers and I enjoyed swimming and going to the beach was impossible because I had no car. Depending on the time we had all the pool to ourselves. Only ten floors down we went with our towels and sunglasses where there awaited us a refreshing exercise in this tropical country. We loved to jump from the diving board and have races. Xabier brought not only the required towel but came equipped with swimming goggles, breathing tubes, fins, and earplugs of the Azteca type that they wore to show their level of importance. I do not think that our brother could even get wet wearing so much equipment.

Shortly after we moved, the Basque Center eliminated aita’s job. These were anxious moments for all of us.  My brothers were still studying, and our father was 63 years old, a bit old to easily get a job, especially as a foreigner. But he got another job thanks to his friend Pedro Grases, who had helped him before and did it again now.  The new job was doing what our father liked, that is, historical research. Grases was born in Catalonia (1909-2004) and arrived in Caracas in 1937 to escape the Spanish Civil War.  He was a writer, historian and literary critic. An avenue in the Caracas neighborhood, La Castellana, where he lived for over half a century bears his name. He valued and recognized the worth of our father and was always ready to give him the opportunity that our father deserved. A sense of self worth is needed to assess the worth of others.

At this time the Medical Records Department was talking of a scholarship for one of us to go to Chicago, Illinois, to do graduate work, and I was thinking to register for it, although all the English I knew was medical terminology.  I think I would have gotten it, but something intervened in my plans. "Man proposes and God disposes" is a saying attributed to the German writer Kempis, author of Imitation of Christ; and ama repeatedly said it to make us see that our goals depend on the divine.

In November, the American holiday of Thanksgiving, is a traditional festival in the U.S. and Canada. In the United States it is held on the fourth Thursday of November. Usually for this feast family and friends gather around the table to share a feast. Aita worked with an American student and my father invited him to dinner that day with us.  He liked the food that ama prepared so he gladly accepted. The traditional main dish for dinner is a great roast turkey stuffed with corn and sage, served with a sweet cranberry jelly, vegetable dishes, sweet potatoes, mashed potatoes with gravy made from turkey. The desserts are varied, with pumpkin pie being the most popular, then pecan and apple. Days before the party George, as we called our friend, asked our father if he would mind inviting another American student new to the country who was also alone. Aita agreed immediately.

In the United States Macy's department store in New York makes a great parade through the streets that attracts millions to Broadway to see the giant balloons and watch performances by guest artists. To compete we decided to do our own show. I sang the popular and famous Mexican musical ranchera song "Ella" by Pedro Infante.  Bingen accompanied me on the cuatro, a musical instrument typical of the Venezuelan Plains, based, as its name says, on four strings.  It is a very ancient instrument, giving rise to today's guitar. We were ready to compete with the big Macy's parade.

Xabier opened the door and took care of the necessities of the guests.  Arantza Ama gave instructions on what to do for our celebration. Aita was not very confident that things would go very well and was a little nervous.

At six o'clock the intercom rang and Xabier started to carry out his duties. Soon the door was opened and George and his friend Robert arrived, the latter with a bottle of wine. Pello entertained us with his loud laughter and everything went well to the relief of our father. After dinner Bingen and Xabier went to the Basque Center, aita and ama prudently withdrew, and the five of us went out to the terrace to chat animatedly until 1 am.

Bob, as we called him at home, called me in fifteen days and went to eat an arepa and a drink.  Soon we began dating and this relationship became more formal on March 19, the feast of St. Joseph and a public holiday in Caracas. Bob and I went to spend the afternoon on Monte Avila.

Caracas is located at the foot of Monte Avila, a mountain of 2,765 meters which is reached by a cable car to the top. The trip, which lasts 15 to 20 minutes, is a picturesque ride through Venezuelan nature. It passes through the different types of plants such as palms, ferns, flowers, orchids and trees such as Bucharest, the most beautiful tree of Venezuela with orange leaves. Reaching the top is almost like being in the jungle, deep green, dense and cooler temperatures. Its green is constant in contrast to the dry cement in the city.

At the top there is hardly any place to walk because it is a peak, but in this narrow area stands the famous Hotel Humboldt, a cylindrical structure with 14 floors and a 360 º view on the top floor. From the summit looking south we see the town, now quiet in the distance, and to the north we watched the Caribbean Sea. And there in this romantic place Bob proposed to me and I accepted, in the lobby of the hotel dining room, where there an ice skating rink, a gazebo, and a cafeteria. We entered the latter and there toasted our future with a Coca Cola each.

The first person I told of our engagement was ama.  We hugged, and went to tell aita. For both it was a joy mixed with sadness because I would leave the house and the country. Almost the first thing my father did after receiving Bob into the family was buy a Basque flag to have with us always, which we have done.  It is framed and is always in prominent place in our living room.  But ama, with her strong faith, was worried that Bob was not Catholic.  To calm her, aita took us to his desk and looked there and studied the origin and history of the Methodists, the religion in which Bob had been baptized, and he read all the information we needed.  He followed closely my relationship with Bob.  He liked his sense of responsibility, seriousness, punctuality and eagerness to study, and generally liked him very well.

After our engagement time flew.  There were so many details, so little time to prepare for the wedding.  Ama helped me buy most of the outfit, gave me tips on home management and cooking.  I did not worry much, but her lessons I put into practice later. She accompanied us to choose the invitations and participations. We sewed and wove quickly.  I needed fall and winter clothes, which I did not have. She had taught me to crochet years earlier and I liked it, and she told us how she learned to knit from the women in the batzoki (local club of the Basque Nationalist Party) who made jackets to send to the gudaris (Basque soldiers) at the front during the Civil War.

On June 23, Arantza, Pello and Bob and I were married in a civil ceremony. It was a simple family ceremony. After the ceremony, we went home where ama had prepared one of her famous banquets. We set the wedding date by the church on September 15. Aunt Juli designed my wedding dress, simple and very pretty with a long veil and a crown of silk lilies. Ama and I were walking to church the day before the wedding to arrange and decorate it with flowers. On the way ama told me that she longed for me what she had hoped for and obtained from her marriage: to be loved, cared for, and understood. We talked of many things that awaited me in the future and what we wanted to share more closely.  Ama told me in an uncertain voice said, "We'll go to visit you." The little chapel looked simple and humble, but beautifully decorated.

Wednesday, 15 September 1965, was sunny and everything was ready for our big day. The small church was filled with flowers. Ama was the bridesmaid. With soft music we entered the church on a red carpet coming down the aisle. We were married by Father Jose Mari Mendizabal (Goian Bego; in Basque, Rest in Peace)). Father Jose Mari talked about Basque women and he reminded Bob that in the Basque Country the wife who is in charge of everything.  Ama was the best example.  Bob was calm and happy.  I was less so, thinking about so many changes that awaited me. Once again the joy of the moment was a bit confused by the farewells from all my family, and also the shadow of war in Vietnam, which was present. This war had intensified in the spring of this year, and Bob was facing two years of military service after getting his doctorate. Xabier took the pictures because the official photographer arrived after lunch, having suffered a car accident.

It was very sad for them to let me go and for me to leave them.  Not without tears in our eyes we all said goodbye.  We were thinking about another separation and more when we would see each other again. We went to the Sheraton Macuto and two days later before embarking I called home to say goodbye to ama, and that evening we sailed for Houston, Texas. That afternoon, in the tropical port of La Guaira, I could not help feeling that I had left behind a part of me that I might never recover. The ship was at sea. This was the third time that a ship would take me to a different destination leaving my loved ones, to start a new chapter in my life as a migrant. Today I can say that I received all the sacraments and each in a different country: Baptism in Paris; First Communion in Las Arenas; Confirmation in Montevideo; Marriage in Caracas; and Anointing of the Sick in Washington.

Ama and I had talked about my total ignorance in the kitchen, and soon she sent me my first cookbook, "My Vizcayan Economic Cookbook", by Mercedes Ledezma. The author was a professor at the academy of cooking and worked in Bilbao where all marriageable girls came to take lessons.  It was possibly the first academy of its kind to be formed in this city.  Ama knew that I would learn and would benefit from the small cookbook, and I did, but I struggled with the equivalence of measures, such as converting grams into ounces.

In the year 1965 there were many changes globally, which affected Bob and me personally.  The situation had worsened in Vietnam, and President Lyndon Johnson ordered to send troops to prevent South Vietnam from collapsing, and the continued war intensified. The Second Vatican Council called by Pope John XXIII was one of the events that marked the twentieth century. It lasted from the fall of 1962 until its closure in December 1965. The goal was to modernize and renew the Catholic Church. And the final decisions of this council were drastic changes such as replacing the altar table, moving the tabernacle to the side, remove the rail for communion, the priest celebrating Mass facing the people, women not needing to wear a veil in the church and changing the language of the liturgy.  The Mass had been celebrated in Latin for hundreds of years and now it would be in the vernacular, which in my case would now be in English. While it is true that all these changes took place gradually over four years after finishing the Council, the changes were added to the big change I was experiencing at the moment.

Ama and I agreed that we didn’t like all these liturgical changes very much. Here you can add what the Prophet Jeremiah told us. Do not look longingly to the past wishing things could be as they were before. Exalt God in this moment and let us move forward. And so it proved to be.

The Bible has a great influence, but we are unaware of the path that has left us not only historically in the social and cultureaspect but in art, science, literature and music.  Ama in her everyday language used many sayings from the biblical world.

Some of the expressions taken from the Bible and spoken by ama:
"There is everything in the vineyard of the Lord" (Matt. 20:1-7) Jesus taught equality among all the disciples about the reward of eternal life.

"In the blink of an eye" (1 Cor. 15:52) A doomsday scenario that tells us we must be awake because at any given time the final trumpet sounds and all living and the dead shall be changed.

"Double-edged sword" (Prov. 5:4)  Discretion and understanding prevent adultery that leads to disgrace, bloodshed and bringing remorse at the end, compared with marital faithfulness that brings happiness and safety.

 "Make the Passover for someone" (Exodus 11:4-5, 12, 29) in this passage God told Moses to kill all the firstborn of Egypt

"Mourn like a Magdalene" (Luke 7:38-44) A lesson of the relationship between forgiveness and love. Only love and recognition inside a sinner brings mercy and forgiveness.

 "Going through hell" (Gen. 4:11-14) the first murder in history, Cain kills Abel.

 "To have more patience than the holy Job” (James 5:11) the book of Job is an exquisite dramatic poem about the suffering of the innocent. It is a matter of patience and perseverance in the midst of trials.

 "Sow discord" (Matt. 13:24-30)  The wheat and tares growing together was the best expression that the church is a mixture of good and bad, like the rest of the world. But in the end all will be judged and justice will triumph.

"Vanity of vanities" (Ecclesiastes 1:2) this is an expression of the entire book of Ecclesiastes and refers to something that may be true, but has little or no substance.

"Selling out for a mess of pottage" (Gen. 25:29-34) Essau gives up his birthright to Jacob in exchange for lentil soup. Trade one’s honor for material goods and give up something important for an immediate but minimal benefit.

"To see the speck in your neighbor's eye and not the beam in their own" (Matthew 7:3-5) Jesus said not to judge to as not to be judged.

"To see the heavens opened" (Acts 7:56) See the glory of God said the first Christian martyr Stephen, to have the vision of the risen Jesus in glory before being stoned to death.


Our Mpther -Our Mother1 -Our Mother2 -Our Mother3 -Our Mother4 -Our Mother5 -Our Mother6 -Our Mother7 

-Our Mother8 -Our Mother9 -Our Mother10 -Our Mother11


I) Vida de Mercedes Iribarren de Ametzaga -Gure Ama - Tributo a nuestra Ama, por Mirentxu Ametzaga 


I.1 Vida de Mercedes Iribarren de Ametzaga -Gure Ama

I.2  Life of Mercedes Iribarren de Ametzaga - Our Mother

II) La mujer que acompaño a Vicente de Ametzaga Aresti - por Xabier I. Ametzaga


II.1 La mujer que acompaño a Vicente de Ametzaga Aresti

III) Mis manos quieren hablar - mi poema a mi Ama - por Xabier I. Ametzaga


III.1 Mis manos quieren hablar - mi poema a mi Ama

IV) Publicaciones en Internet relacionadas 


IV.1 Sitio en Internet que lleva el nombre de Vicente de Ametzaga Aresti

IV.2 Los tres Barcos que llevaron a Ama y Aita

IV.3 Travesia

IV.4 Reunion familiar Amezagaeguberriak

IV. 5 Antecedentes

IV. 6 Publicacion en Internet de toda la obra de Aita - la que ella ordeno y recopilo

IV. 7 Publicaciones Xamezaga Editor Internet

Dedicatoria y mi homenaje a Mercedes Iribarren Gorostegui - Su esposa y mi ama

Travesia   Antecedentes   Reunion   Fotos     Videos   Slide Show Reunion

Sitio en Internet en homenaje a Mercedes Iribarren de Ametzaga.
Creacion, Edicion y contacto: Xabier Iñaki Ametzaga Iribarren
Blog Xabier Amezaga Iribarren:
Editorial Xamezaga


I.1 Linea de Vida  y su Obra

I.2 Poesias en Euskera Recopilacion Total

I.3 Conferencias Recopilacion

I,4 Articulos Periodisticos Recopilacion Total

I.5 Lengua Vasca

I.6 Gernika

I.7 Uruguay

I.8 Venezuela

I.9 Reseñas Biograficas

I.10 Traducciones

I.11 Obras Publicadas

I.12 Semana Vasca en Montevideo

I.13 Ciclo de Clases

I.14 Nota Bio-Bibliografica

I,15 Biografia en Euskera

I.16 Sitio en Internet en Euskera

I.17 Nostalgia

I.18 Articulos Periodisticos Indice Cronologico

I.19 Articulos Periodisticos Indice Alfafabetico

II) OBRAS COMPLETAS - Libros Publicados en Internet


II.1  El Hombre Vasco

II.2 Hombres de la Compañia  Guipuzcoana

II.3  El Elemento Vasco en el siglo XVIII Venezolano

II.4 Vicente Antonio de Icuza

III) INDICE de TEMAS RELACIONADOS. Libros publicados por sus hijos;


III.1 Nere Aita - el exilio vasco - Mirentxu Amezaga 

III.2 Cronicas del Alsina -  Arantzazu Amezaga de Irujo

IV) Sus Hijos Escriben;


IV.1 Los tres Barcos que llevaron a Ama y Aita

IV.2 Travesia

V) Sus Hijos Escriben tras su muerte;


V.1 A mi Aita

V.2 La cancion de mi Padre

VI) Otros aspectos


VI.1 Reunion Familar en su Memoria

VI.2 Exodo

VI.3 Comision del Cuatricentenario de Caracas

VI.4 Inauguracion de la Plaza que lleva su nombre en Algorta

VI.5 Su Pequeño Poema en la Nota Necrologica 4 Febrero 1969

VII) Toda su Obra Publicada convertida en Formato PDF- puede ser leida en dispositivos  e-Book


 VII.1 Amézaga Vicente  Autor Irujo Ametzaga Xabier

 VII.2 Articulos de Prensa

 VII.3 Bio Biografica

 VII.4 Biografia en Euskera

 VII.5 Ciclo de Clases

 VII.6 Ciclo de Conferencias

 VII.7 Nostalgia

 VII.8 El Elemento vasco en el Siglo XVIII Venezolano

 VII.9 El Hombre Vasco

 VII.10 Los Hombres de la Compañia Guipuzcoana

 VII.11 Obras Publicadas

 VII.12 Vicente Antonio de Icuza

 VII.13 Poesias

 VII.14 Relacion de Escritos como Autor

 VII.15 Reseñas Biograficas

 VII.16 Semana Vasca Montevideo

 VII.17 Semana Vasca Montevideo Indice de Articulos

 VII.18 Traducciones

Sitio en Internet en homenaje a Vicente de Ametzaga Aresti.
Unico sitio en Internet, que lleva su nombre, de referencia completa de su vida y su Obra totalmente publicada en Internet, 
Poesias, Articulos de Prensa, sus Libros, completando asi, y cerrando todo lo que se habia escrito en libros sobre el y su vida
Creacion, Edicion y contacto: Xabier Iñaki Ametzaga Iribarren
Blog Xabier Amezaga Iribarren:
Editoriales relacionadas con sus Publicaciones
Editorial Xamezaga
Vicente Ametzaga Aresti - His Biography and his works Published on Wikipedia
Mercedes Iribarren Gorostegui - La mujer que acompaño a Vicente de Ametzaga - published on Wikipedia
Xabier Iñaki Ametzaga Iribarren - Information published on Wikipedia