When my mom moved to the U.S. from Peru, she left her family there. So, she built up a new network of family members who would be our substitute aunts, uncles, cousins and grandparents. Tia Nelly was not blood-related, but I knew her since I was born, and blood does not a family make.
My aunt was the queen of reinvention. She was a wife, a widow, a Spanish teacher and a business owner. She was strong and positive, hilarious and generous. Whenever she called her voice rang out with a sing-songy, "Hola, hola!" right before she went off telling you a long-winded, hilariously over-the-top story about her business, her cat, Sushi or her dog, Reina. Every time she came over, she would tell us a new beauty remedy she was trying out (lathering up her face with Crisco to reduce wrinkles) or bring over samples of a new recipe she was trying out (all just as delicious as her alfajores).
She was a grab-life-by-the-balls kind of lady and never apologized for who she was. And although her company and her cookies will be missed, the lessons she's left behind will keep her alive in my heart forever.
That being said, I like to think of her making bank up in heaven, selling her cookies to everyone. :)
P.S. And in honor of my aunt's business savvy and her love for a good plug, regardless of where it was. Her website is still up so you should check it out and see if you can order them from her children: http://www.nellysalfajores.com/