In addition to celebrating our 25th anniversary, INC took this momentous occasion to recognise Felicia Morrera’s profound and ongoing role in our organization. Annie Morris, Andrea Isiminger, and Paulette Flahavin gave a beautiful, and very moving speech celebrating Felicia’s contributions to the club and gave us a few anecdotes about how Felica touched their lives. Please enjoy their tribute posted below!
A tribute to Felicia Morera, who was made Honorary President at INC’s 25th Anniversary Celebration, February, 26, 2013.
I have no idea when I met Felicia. I’ve thought about it long and hard, and I simply can’t remember. The question is better phrased, “When didn’t I know Felicia?” because when I think of INC, I think of Felicia. I do seem to think that I heard about her a couple of times before I actually met her, because back then, everyone assumed that if you lived in Las Matas, you had to know Felicia, so any time I mentioned to a foreigner that I lived in Las Matas, they would ask me if I knew Felicia.
We all know our “Hostess with the Mostest”, the Queen of Hospitality, the epitome of graciousness, but I wonder if everyone knows that she has also had the unofficial office of Continuing Corresponding Secretary. For so many years, Felicia has sent loving handwritten notes to so many members, thanking them for something special, or sharing in the joy of a newborn, or condolences on the loss of a loved one, or simply keeping in touch every Christmas with INC’ers all over the world. She resisted the electronic age with all her might, but now is as proficient as the rest of us on the computer (no cell phone, though!). So now it is via email that she sends out so many thoughtful communications. She personifies the attitude of gratitude.
I was thrilled when INC’s new editor Ashleigh did an interview with Felicia for this season’s Sept issue. Every member should get an introduction to Felicia, who, for me, embodies the spirit of what The International Newcomers is really about. She is welcoming, vibrant and dedicated to getting to know the new folks as well as committed to keeping in touch with those who have had to move on.
I have had the pleasure of enjoying her hospitality on many occasions…at her Open House for Antiques, Egg Painting class, Area Coffees, and, of course, the salad luncheons and paella picnics. Whether she is planning an event for 10 or 110, she does so with grace and good cookin’—those of you who have sampled her pastries know what I am talking about!
During my 4 years as newsletter editor, she provided me with great support and enthusiasm. I could count on her to call me up to let me know when she received her newsletter so I could gauge whether or not the majority of members were receiving them on time. Sometimes I would arrive home to see the message light on my phone blinking and hear her simple but uplifting message, “Hey, kid–great job this month!” And I trusted her to tell me when something needed fixing. Her honesty was confirmation about how much INC really meant to her.
Felicia has a sixth sense about people, and she was the person who gave me a gentle push into my first INC Board position as Hospitality Director. The next year, the gloves came off…as the saying goes. And Felicia introduced me to Vicky Wilson at an INC General Meeting. “You two would be great together,” she said as she began to walk away. “Oh, I mean as INC Vice Presidents.” So Vicky and I got on with our introductions and then rolled up our sleeves to begin planning the General Meetings for the next season. We never imagined saying “no”….especially when Felicia was so right. We clicked; we worked very well together. And, to this day, am so glad Felicia had introduced me to such a wonderful person.
If I had to choose one word to describe Felicia it would be this: Giving.
INC today celebrates 25 years thanks to the generosity of countless women who have been part of the club. But Felicia stands alone because for the 25 years she has been a member of INC, she has always shared herself with us. Her BEST self.
She has hosted us in her garden for 20 years and counting, but in addition to the hard work of getting her enormous garden in shape for our parties, which takes weeks of weeding, trimming, seeding, planting, watering and sprucing, she always goes beyond. Whether it is sharing her own olive harvest that she herself brines, or making her famous iced tea for our massive crowd, or insisting on providing the ice cream and cookies, Felicia always goes not the extra step, but an extra five miles!
In the hutch where I keep my good china there are more than two dozen eggs that I painted at Felicia’s over a number of years. Every spring for 20 years, she shared her love for Ukrainian egg painting—an art she learned as a high school student in the US—with women from all over the world. While the decorated eggs celebrate the Christian holiday of Easter, Felicia taught Muslim, Jewish, Hindu and Buddhist women and one man how to transform a raw chicken egg into a piece of art. (Well, Felicia’s eggs are genuine artistic treasures; mine are brightly colored mementos of wonderful mornings spent at Felicia’s sunny tables painting, talking and laughing.)
The egg painting mornings always began with coffee and a spread of Felicia’s amazing baked delicacies. Again, Felicia didn’t just go that extra step—she pulled out all the stops to offer a buffet of homemade sweets and all from her mother’s handwritten cookbook—which Felicia will tell you is the one possession of her mother’s she most treasures.
Speaking of treasures, there was an old saying from pre-feminist days that goes “behind every great man is a great woman” and I would like to say that in this case “behind every great woman is a great man.” I’ve had the pleasure of getting to know Jose Antonio, who is the hidden jewel of Las Matas. He is brilliant, articulate, curious, disciplined and one of those rare people who is always growing and learning and embracing challenges. He cherishes Felicia and is a part of everything she does, the man behind the scenes.
For 25 years, INC women have had the amazing good fortune to have been at the receiving end of Felicia’s graceful, heartfelt giving. How can we ever thank her?