An Oath to Each Other, and Now to a Country
It's been said that love overcomes everything. Jorge García and Rafaela Maradiaga-García are an example of all that a couple can overcome. Jorge, 93, and Rafaela, 92, have learned to face life together courageously. Today, both enjoy what Rafaela calls a new blessing: their U.S. citizenship.
Rafaela Maradiaga, a native of Puerto Cortés, Honduras, immigrated to Guatemala as a child. It was in that country’s capital where she fell for the young man who would become her husband. "It was love at first sight. Since Feb. 2, 1946, we've been together," says Rafaela. "That night we danced and danced ... and while dancing he told me that I will be his 'forever girlfriend.'"
Jorge, born in Retalhuleu, Guatemala, and Rafaela were very responsible and hard-working. She lived with a foster mother since becoming an orphan at age 16, and worked in a factory to pay their rent. Jorge worked in a tobacco factory.
Hoping to always be together, the couple went to San Felipe de Jesus Church at La Antigua Guatemala (Old Guatemala), at the bottom of the Volcán de Agua (Water Volcano). There, Jorge proposed, and they made an oath to "love each other ever after."
But Rafaela’s foster mom didn’t accept their relationship. "Anywhere she saw us together, she’d throw rocks at us, or even her thermos flask …particularly at Jorge!"
But that only made their love grow stronger.
"We never quit enjoying life," says Jorge. "There were good and difficult times, but we always were thankful for what we had and for life itself, and we always made sure once a year to spend time on the beachfront."
Rafaela and Jorge had 13 children. Only six of them survived.
Being together has always been the main goal of this couple. The only time they were separated from each other was in 1989, when Rafaela went to the United States to take care of their first grandchild. "For me it was three months of emptiness and sorrow," Jorge recalls.
He and Rafaela had the opportunity to immigrate to the United States in 1989. "Jorge got lost when he got to the airport and we had to go out and search for him. I am not sure how he managed to phone home," says Rafaela.
Jorge and Rafaela taking the Oath of Allegiance.
Adapting to their new life in this country was a challenge for them. "I've never dreamt of speaking another language, especially at my age, but I’ve learned (English) little by little and now I can communicate well," Jorge says proudly.
Jorge, surrounded by Rafaela and his family, proudly shows his Naturalization Certificate.
However, both say their greatest satisfaction in life has been to become U.S. citizens, which they achieved on Feb. 12, 2014. "I'm very grateful for this blessed country which has received us," Jorge says. Rafaela adds: "It's a joy that will endure forever. It’s a blessing. Receiving this tiny flag was very meaningful to me. It is small in size but it’s huge in the merit it carries. I cried when I received it!"