Maria Carmen Madarieta Bidaburu, 90, of Boise, Idaho passed away July 27, 2020, peacefully in her sleep with her loving family at her side. She lived a long, fulfilling life and was blessed with many family and friends.
Carmen was born on July 14, 1930, in Ispaster, Viscaya, Spain to Marcial Madarieta and Ramona Aboitiz Madarieta. She grew up on the family baserri (farmhouse) named “Barrenengoa” in Euskadi (The Basque Country) and she spoke fondly of her childhood memories. She was the second oldest of twelve children and had six brothers and five sisters, she was the oldest girl in the family. She did more than her share of the arduous farm work along-side her father and mother contributing to making Barrenengoa a farm that provided the family with everything they needed. Carmen always said, “We didn’t have much money, but we were never hungry”.
During the Spanish Civil War from 1936 to 1939, the Basque region of Spain was governed by the dictator, Francisco Franco, who was adversarial toward the Basques. Carmen often told stories about the war when her mother gave food to people that were less fortunate, especially people that lived in the towns that had no access to pastures, vegetable gardens, or fruit orchards all of which were in abundance at Barrenengoa. During that time, she recalls her father avoiding capture from Franco’s troops by hiding out in the surrounding mountains and visiting home only at night. She was so relieved when he would return safely.
Carmen often recalled the joy she had growing up in a loving home with her large family. Some of her fondest memories were going to the nearby villages, usually walking with friends, to festivals and dances to places like Lequeitio, Ereno, Gernika, Bedarona, Gavica, Mundaka, Bermeo. She especially liked the impromptu dances with friends at the nearby farmhouses that were lucky enough to have music, usually by radio, near Ispaster. Her many uncles and aunts often greeted her with a few pesetas (coin) and maybe some candy or chocolate when she was making the rounds between dances or just visiting as a young thriving girl in her community. At eighteen, it was time for Carmen to spread her wings and take a job as a maid for a wealthy, aristocratic family in Neguri, an upscale neighborhood of Bilbao. Her mother, Ramona, helped arrange this from the years of service she provided the same family as a wet-nurse. Carmen loved this life experience despite all the hard work that was required for being a live-in maid. The household staff consisted of six live-in maids, who changed their uniforms three times a day, a chef, butler, chauffeur, and multiple gardeners. Living in a beautiful mansion with all the amenities she could only dream about was a true education. She used to say that, although she didn’t get the opportunity to attend much school as a young girl, she received a college education working and traveling with this family. Because the staff was expected to be refined and appreciate art and culture, they would occasionally be treated to opera performances at the Arriaga Theatre in Bilbao, be trained by French chefs, and travel to various vacation homes. Carmen often remembered, “Barrenengoa was home, but Neguri was nice”.
At thirty-one years of age, Carmen was visiting home on a July festival weekend in Ispaster when she caught the eye of a handsome young man, Vicente Bidaburu, who was on a return trip from the United States after years of herding sheep in the Pueblo and Steens Mountains of Eastern Oregon. They were introduced by Carmen’s uncle and then started a courtship. Carmen and Vicente married on November 18, 1961, in Ispaster. Shortly after the month-long honeymoon, Vicente returned to the U.S. to find steady employment and Carmen remained in Ispaster. She joined him later in 1963 after he got settled and purchased a home in Burns, Oregon. She made the journey with her ten-month-old son (Aitor) in her arms, without knowing a word of English. Ana Maria was born in Burns in 1964. Carmen would reflect on her travel to Burns, which seemed like an eternity, and she described it as “crossing an ocean of sagebrush.”
For the next 25 years, Carmen and Vicente flourished in Burns working two jobs each and providing a loving home for their two children. Carmen was employed by the Henry Slater Elementary School as a cook and the Harney County Court House as a custodian. In 1989, Carmen and Vicente finally enjoyed the beginning of a well-deserved and long retirement together. After a brief residence in Ontario, they decided to move to Boise where they were closer to family, friends, and activities they thoroughly enjoyed. Carmen loved socializing with friends at the Basque Center, taking in the monthly family-style meals, the Briska Tournaments (Basque cards), Oinkari Basque Dancers, San Inazio Festival on the Basque Block and much more. Carmen and Vicente’s competitive spirit as partners earned them two Briska Tournament Championships. Carmen was instilled with a strong sense of Basque patriotism from a very young age. She was always the first to proclaim- “Gora Euskadi!” (Up with the Basque Country!).
Over the years, Carmen and Vicente made numerous trips to the Basque Country and stayed connected with family there. She was very fond of and cherished all her siblings, both in the U.S. and Euskadi. We will never forget the first trip we took as a family in the summer of 1975 we stayed for an entire month and created a bond with our numerous uncles, aunts, and cousins that continue to this day. Thank you, Ama (mom) eta Aitxe (dad). That was important because we have more family in Euskadi than we do in the U.S.
Carmen is often remembered for her grace, kindness, and selflessness. She dearly loved all six of her grandchildren and devoted herself to their happiness. She has been a cherished part of our life and will be dearly missed and forever remembered. Carmen’s passing coincides with the annual San Inazio celebrations in Boise. She would want our family to enjoy and celebrate this festival together in memory of her spirit and the love she had for festivals both in the Basque Country and in the U.S. because they bring family and friends together.
Carmen is preceded in death by her husband Vicente, parents Ramona and Marcial Madarieta, brothers: Frederico, Paulino, Miguel, Antonio, Jacinto, and sisters: Victoria, and Begonia. Carmen is survived by her two loving children Aitor (Debbie) and Ana (Jess), six grandchildren Nicolas, Joseba, Mikel, Matea, Isabela, Cristina, and her brother Ramon(Colleen) and three sisters Serafina (Juan), Iciar, and Ana.
Mom had loving care from both Aitor and Ana with daily visits that allowed her to live independently in her own home for years. She adored the company and always looked forward to sharing a meal with the family. A special thanks to those who helped provide home care for Carmen in recent months, including Carla Vale and Jeanne Bronson. In addition, and most especially to Ana Bidaburu Asla for welcoming mom into her home and providing her with the best quality of life and care possible. Mom truly appreciated living with her family and knowing she was loved and cherished beyond measure.
Due to concerns with Covid-19 and the susceptibility of family members, there will be a private family memorial Rosary and Mass on August 5 at Cathedral of St. John the Evangelist followed by a private interment at Morris Hill Cemetery.
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