Smiling over a Century
Ms. Lopes relaxes and awaits her birthday cake. Photos by Ralph Stewart
Maria Lopes sat reclined in a chair and sang "happy birthday" quietly to herself while her children sat by her side. Surrounded with orange and pink flowers, with rosy cheeks and glittering eyes, she greeted her friends who came to celebrate her special day.
Flanked by her children, Ms. Lopes sits with Gilbert and Irene.
Ms. Lopes has been living in the United States since she was nine years old, Irene explained. She came to Ellis Island with her mother on a schooner named the Millicent. The two joined Maria's brothers and began their lives in Brooklyn, N.Y. where she raised three children. Her next move was to New Bedford, where she remained until she joined her daughter here on the Vineyard five years ago when she became ill.
Maria's daughter Irene, who is 80 years old, has three children and currently lives in Vineyard Haven. Having grown up in Brooklyn, she married an Island man, Clifford Dugan, in the early 1950s.
The children prepare to cut the cake at Windemere.
Enjoying the birthday party on Tuesday and sitting by their mother's side, the family members posed for pictures and sat down to enjoy cake and punch with Maria's friends in Windemere. During the party, Irene and Gilbert crunched numbers to figure out how many grandchildren Maria had. "Sixteen grandchildren," Irene finally announced. Gilbert thought some more and counted nine great-grandchildren, and several great-great-grandchildren.