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Dolores Romero is the aunt and later stepmother of Josefina Montoya. Josefina refers to her as "Tía Dolores."

Personality and Facts

Dolores Romero is the younger sister of Josefina's late mother, Maria. She is a tall woman with dark red springy hair, slightly ruddy skin, and grey eyes. She does not look like her sister in many ways. Her hands are bigger, strong and square; her face is more narrow; and she has a deeper voice that is low and clear like a harp. But she has the same laugh as her sister and laughs in a wholehearted way.

There is a liveliness about Dolores and an air of intelligence, and she walks with long confident strides. While she is not exactly traditionally beautiful, she is uniquely beautiful in her own way. Her father Felipe says that she is quite stubborn--perhaps the most stubborn woman in the world. She is several years younger than her sister (and closer in age to her niece Ana, which makes them much more like friends or cousins than aunt and niece[1]) and wanted to be like her older sister growing up. She greatly misses her sister and Josefina realizes during the Christmas holidays that she was far away in Mexico City when she heard that Maria had died and must have been very sad and lonely in her grief.

Dolores moved away from the rancho and to Mexico City ten years before the start of the series to care for her aunt, and at her aunt's death that spring, she chose to come back to Santa Fe to stay with her parents again. She learned to read and write with her late aunt--she did not know how before she stayed with her--and received letters from Maria (likely written by Andres) and learned a lot about her nieces from the correspondence; however, she had not seen or met Josefina before she returned from Mexico City and the other sisters were still children when she left, so only Ana knew her well and Francisca more has memories. She sent Mamá seeds from Mexico City which were brought on the caravan. Once, she took her sister's best sash without permission and lost it, angering her sister so much she wouldn't speak to her for days.

Clara thinks of her as practical and hard-working (one of her highest compliments), while Francisca initially considers her to be elegant, though this fades as she works more at the rancho and Francisca becomes fussier about how she is more involved in the operations of the rancho as if she were the patrona. Tia Dolores loves music, and is good at playing the piano. She is a lot less demure than Maria was, and from her first arrival asks Andres about how things are run and operate around the rancho. She speaks up to suggest what to do after the loss of many sheep in autumn flooding, and helps him keep the ledger to know how many blankets they can make and how much they can earn to replace them.

Tia Dolores is a good listener--Josefina feels that she really listens when she's talking to her. She is always willing to teach her nieces new skills and help them, but she won't do their work for them. Tia Dolores never wastes time. Unlike her sister, she is willing to get involved in the business side of the rancho's operations and doesn't mind taking over a weaving business, things that normally are left to the patron. Unlike her sister, she helps Josefina face her fears rather than only protect her from them.

In the Books

Meet Josefina: An American Girl

Dolores is mentioned early; Francisca dreams of moving to Mexico City and living with her, sure she lives in a grand house and knows many elegant people. She claims to remember her aunt as she was almost six when she left. Clara mocks that if Dolores remembers Francisca at all, she will not want to live with her. She was whom sent the seeds to Mamá from Mexico City on the caravan that make the flower garden in the back courtyard that Mamá cultivated, the one Josefina now tends.

Dolores meets her nieces.

Dolores is first seen but not recognized by Francisca; she wonders who the tall woman is next to their grandfather, but Clara and Josefina have already left. When the girls go out to greet their grandfather, he introduces her as their aunt, shocking them all. She greets each other girls in turn, dwelling especially on Josefina as Josefina was born after she left and so she had never seen her like the others. She had not known she was coming up from Mexico City originally, but as her aunt had died and the caravan was soon to arrive, she chose to return home.

During Abuelito's story, he explains that Dolores insisted on bringing her piano. He had argued that it was too heavy and large to bring with them, but Dolores had not said anything. When they arrived at Dead Man's Canyon, they were overtaken by thieves. Her piano was knocked into a gully and the loud noise it made echoed off the walls, scaring the thieves away. Thus, her stubbornness saved them all. When Josefina asks if the piano is hurt, Tía says that only one leg is splintered and the top scratched. She asks Abuelito to give in to Josefina's request to see the piano and he does so she kisses him. Once Papá opens the crate, she climbs into the wagon and lifts the key lid. She can't stand up and there is not enough room for her hands to move, but she is able to play a chord and a spirited tune that mesmerizes Josefina. She stops, saying that the piano is out of tune and she is out of practice. She says the girls must come see her in Santa Fe, where she can play for them and teach them how to play.

During the fandango, Dolores is one of the most graceful dancers, catching Clara's attention. She stands out because of her height and red hair. When Josefina is crying after her flowers are destroyed, Dolores finds her and asks her what she is doing in the darkness. She listens quietly as Josefina tells what happened, giving her full attention. It is only when Josefina is done that she asks to see the flowers. She kneels in the dirt and touches the soil before saying that the roots are deep and the flowers will live. She asks Josefina about her love of flowers and says she has brought seeds from Mexico City, offering to help Josefina plant them the next day and wash her hair ribbon. She then escorts Josefina back to the gran sala. This is when Josefina gets the idea to ask her to stay.

After breakfast the following morning, Dolores spends the day with Josefina and her sisters. She helps fill water jugs to water the kitchen garden and pick some large pumpkins to take to Santa Fe. Dolores says that her mother does not have pumpkins this large in her garden. She praises Clara's dyed wool, saying there are no finer colors in all of Mexico. She teaches Clara a faster way to knit a heel and Francisca how to make a patch that hardly shows. She then helps Josefina with planting new flowers, but only for a while as she is going to help Ana bake bread later. She notes that Ana has a lot of responsibilities and struggles because she is young, but she has her sisters to help her. When Josefina discusses how things were easier with Mamá and how she must keep peace among Clara and Francisca, Dolores says blessed are the peacemakers as they will be called the children of God. She then says that she argued with her sister and that she is sure her sister thought she was a pest. She relates a story about how she took Mamá's best sash without permission and lost it, causing her sister not to talk to her for days. When Josefina says she'd like her to be there to protect the flowers, Dolores says she can protect them and doesn't need her as she will keep the flowers safe.

Dolores brings gifts for all the girls--a silk rebozo for Ana, a sewing diary for Francisca, scissors and needles for Clara, and a garnet necklace for Josefina, saying that Josefina is quite grown-up herself when Francisca protests the gift. She says that she picked the right gifts for them all thanks to Abuelito's stories during his yearly visit and the occasional dictated letter from Mamá, which made her feel like she was watching them grow up even though she was so far away. She is surprised to learn the girls don't know how to read. She and Abuelito go to the village to visit Mamá's grave, during which the sisters discuss asking her to stay through Papá.

The next morning, the girls initially believe that Dolores is not going to stay as her trunk is loaded onto Abuelito's wagon. It is when Josefina sees her piano in the gran sala that she realizes she is staying, and runs out to the gate where Dolores sweeps her into her arms. Dolores explains that she is going to Santa Fe to see her mother, but promises she will return to stay as long as she is needed. She then swings herself onto the wagon and leaves with her father.

Josefina Learns a Lesson: A School Story

Josefina's Surprise: A Christmas Story

Happy Birthday, Josefina!: A Springtime Story

Josefina Saves The Day: A Summer Story

Changes for Josefina: A Winter Story

Josefina's Song

Thanks to Josefina

Just Josefina

Again, Josefina!

A Reward for Josefina

Secrets in the Hills

The Glowing Heart

Song of the Mockingbird: My Journey with Josefina

References

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