The prettiest woman in Mexico

Amy Schildhouse Greenberg

Alinka Kuper Zabludovsky was everyone’s sweetheart.  Babies drooled at the sight of her, other women wanted to be her friend, and naturally, men adored her.  She was unusually beautiful.  I remember, upon meeting her in the 1980s, remarking that she was certainly the prettiest woman in Mexico. 

She had a light-giving smile and mischievous dimples high up on her cheeks. Her eyes were large and luminous, and the best thing about them was the way they crinkled into laugh lines at their edges.  Alinka must have been in her fifties when I met her, and I recalled thinking that certainly there were several younger, more fashionable and very good-looking girls in the cosmopolitan Federal District, but even they could not match her in loveliness.  It was her uniquely open face that lifted her above all others.  It mirrored her honesty, kindness, and a generosity of spirit.  Her face revealed a healthy dose of good humor: she was a woman who enjoyed life: her girlfriends, her husband Abraham, and above all, her family.  

Alinka was a problem-solver.  She wanted to fix anything that she perceived was amiss in the lives of those she loved. Did someone need a new cook?  Alinka could find her one.  A wedding dress sewn from scratch?  She knew just the right seamstress.  A sympathetic ear to listen to the trials of new motherhood?  Alinka was on the phone with you midday or midnight, it didn’t matter which.  A good doctor?  A fish restaurant?  Seed money for a business?  No request was too small or, for that matter, too large.  At times, it seemed that Alinka lived to do for others.  She dedicated herself to her family and coterie of friends with passion and enthusiasm.  More than a few artists owed their success to her interest and support.  Scores of friends unburdened themselves of private conflicts to her non-judgmental audience.  She was imaginative and fanciful, but could be brutally realistic if the situation warranted.  And she was flexible.  Throughout her life, she was asked — by her husband, her mother, other persons whose happiness mattered to her — to change course on a moment’s notice, and she was always willing to do so without complaint or protest. 

Ultimately, hers was a beauty that shone from within, even more than from without.  The last time I saw her, in the spring of 2008, it was hard to recognize her at first.  She had lost so much weight, her hair was thin, her breathing labored.  Yet her face remained the same: open, honest, with high dimpled cheeks and large, bright eyes, crinkly at the edges.  She smiled, her eyes smiled, and immediately I was back in 1987, bathed in the light of her warmth and acceptance.


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