Idelisa “Yaya” Oliviera laughs beneath birthday balloons at her 105th birthday party on Aug. 14, 2021, in Tampa. [ ARIELLE BADER | Times ]
Idelisa “Yaya” Oliviera celebrated her milestone birthday with her family.
Arielle BaderSpecial to the Times
Published Sep. 13, 2021|Updated Sep. 20, 2021
The woman everyone calls Yaya turned 105 in August.
Idelisa Oliviera, who also goes by mama, hermana, tia and bisabuela (great-grandmother), was surrounded by happy friends and family. At her Tampa home, they celebrated with homemade Cuban food, cake and presents.
Yaya was born on Aug. 15, 1916, in Oriente Province, Cuba. She was the seventh of 15 children. Her mother lived to be 92, a sister to 99 and another sister to 103. Now, only one sister, Dulce Martinez, 97, is also alive. Yaya and Dulce share a deep bond.
When Yaya left Cuba in 1972, she immigrated to Spain before moving to Tampa in 1974. She worked as a seamstress and raised her daughter on her own. Throughout her life, Yaya has enjoyed her independence: She gardens and loves cruises and taking care of others. When she was 100 she moved in with her daughter and son-in-law to let them take care of her.
“My daughter is very good for me,” Yaya said of Borja Magro, her only child. “She takes care of me. I love her.”
Yaya’s days are filled with puzzles to keep her mind active, and she’s proud that she can master 1,000-piece challenges. Some are framed to decorate the walls, others are gifted to family.
How did she live such a long, happy life? “Don’t smoke, don’t drink liquor,” Yaya said.
“And have a good daughter,” added Magro from the kitchen.
She unwrapped presents of chocolates, jewelry and puzzles. But Yaya’s only real birthday wish was to be surrounded by family.