Diolanda Gomez Medina, 95, passed away peacefully at home, lovingly surrounded by family on Tuesday, March 30th, 2021 in Apopka, Florida. She was born in Santiago de Cuba, Cuba on September 25th, 1925.
Diolanda is survived by her 3 sons; Fernando Medina (Karen Quill), Rafael Medina and Rosendo Medina Jr. (Maria), her 7 grandchildren; Justin, Ricky, Kristin, Breeann, Matthew, Jesse, Michelle and her 9 great grandchildren.
She was preceded in death by her parents; father Manuel Gomez, mother Zoila Castro and her sister Gladys Rabelo.
Diolanda grew up in Santiago de Cuba during the Great Depression and World War II where she attended boarding school. In 1949 she married Rosendo Medina in Havana. For the next ten years she worked at his side. By 1958, they had acquired and operated a small cardboard box manufacturing factory, plus worked with photographers making custom photo albums with embedded music boxes for weddings and special occasions. In 1962, at the age of 36, she left behind everything she owned emigrating to America with her two sons while pregnant with her third, as a refugee from communist Cuba, longing for freedom and a better life for her family.
Diolanda's early years in America were spent raising her 3 sons. Although financially very poor, she never allowed it to define her. Her spirit was rich and full of hope for her young boys. She had a quiet, but, self assured personality. She was a truly independent woman, a feminist in the purest sense, who led with actions, works and deeds, not words. She was an exceptional role model for her boys and all who knew her. Her family was her world and made her happiest. Never one to shy away from hard work, she believed in herself, in personal responsibility and always looked for ways to improve her family's life. Although starting off as a stay at home mom, financial necessities led to self taught roles as a manicurist/pedicurist, seamstress, school van driver, saleswoman, macrame artist and real estate agent, an achievement that made her very proud. Amazingly, all these career accomplishments took place after she had reached her 45th birthday! In her 60's, she reverted to her nurturing roots becoming a motherly mainstay in Breeann's life and upbringing while helping in the after school care of Michelle and Jesse. She adored all her grandkids.
Diolanda was a big sports fan, first starting when her sons began playing organized baseball and basketball. Between school and sports teams for 3 growing boys, she had no time for herself. This exposure to sports led her to become a big fan of the Miami Dolphins, Miami Hurricanes, Orlando Solar Bears and especially, the Orlando Magic. She loved watching her teams play, assembling puzzles, listening to music and enjoyed gardening.
Diolanda visited Hawaii in the summer of 2000. Spending two weeks on Kauai and Maui left an indelible impression on her soul. Whether the islands spirit and beauty reminded her of her beloved Cuba or defined itself for its own uniqueness, she never forgot that trip. It stayed with her to the point where she never again spoke of dying, instead always referring to her passing away as to "when I go to Hawaii". In her heart and soul, she was an island girl. Unfortunately, she never had the opportunity to return to her island homeland, to a free Cuba.
Diolanda was a true patriot, one who respected and valued what America represents, appreciated its benevolence, its independence, the freedoms it offers and was eternally grateful for the opportunity it gave her family. She loved her adoptive country, proudly became an American citizen and always exercised her right to vote in every election. She loved and cared for her close friends as sisters. She treated everyone with love, dignity and respect. Most of all, Diolanda adored her 3 sons, her grandchildren and her family. She will always be fondly remembered, forever loved and dearly missed.
Diolanda will be laid to rest with her beloved mother, Zoila, and her loving godmother, Sara Castro, at Highland Memory Gardens cemetery. The memorial service will be held on Saturday, April 10th at 1pm at the Highland Funeral Home in Apopka, Florida, with burial to follow.
Keeping with the spirit of "going to Hawaii", the attire for the service is casual and a tropical theme is encouraged.
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