Stronger Than Stone
Valeria Lento Palmertree
At the young age of 8 years old, Valeria Lento Palmertree arrived in Miami Beach, having immigrated from Argentina with her parents and younger brother. The family arrived in the United States with three key possessions, hope, opportunity, and each other.
Having no familiarity with the English language and little by way of luxuries, Valeria’s parents; mother, Norma Mabel Serchia, and father, Tiziano Lento, built a vibrant, multicultural home for their two children, drawing on a different type of wealth, and celebrating a richness they had in abundance. They gifted their children a warm childhood, supported by a foundation of hard work, fierce determination, infinite love, and relentless hope.
“My parents always made us feel like we weren’t alone; they taught us that we had deep, cultural roots, and that we could overcome anything as long as we had each other.”
From those roots, Valeria blossomed, achieving milestones and experiences well beyond those accessible to her parents. She graduated both high school and college, first-generation; she found a career that allowed her to explore her passions and explore the world; and, eventually, she discovered her own love story with her now husband, Sean Palmertree.
“Everything I’ve done and get to do is because of their sacrifice. There was a point where I realized that I’m my parents’ American Dream, and I have to honor that.”
However, Valeria’s foundation, formed around and by the enduring, ever-present truth of family, was tested after the tragic and sudden loss of her mother, followed swiftly by the loss of her father.
During their first year of their marriage, Valeria and Sean endured ten months apart, as Sean had been deployed overseas. During his deployment, Norma, Valeria’s mother, fell seriously ill, and was confined to the ICU for two months, with Valeria as her designated caretaker. Upon Sean’s return, Norma urged her daughter to go to her husband.
Shortly after the couple were reunited, Valeria received a call that her mother had passed.
“She wanted me to be with him. It was like she wanted to remind me, as she had always done, that I could overcome anything as long as I had my family. Sean, for myself and for my mother, was the answer to that promise — I’d found love, and I would never be alone.”
In the year following Norma’s death, Valeria’s father, Tiziano, began to suffer from early signs of dementia, and Valeria found herself as a caretaker for her parent once again. However, while Valeria shared an understanding and closeness with her mother that had spanned her lifetime, the time together with her father revealed a different side of the man Valeria had known through her childhood. As she writes:
“Growing up, I didn’t always understand my dad. He was stern and strict and strong-willed and much too serious about everything…[But], when my mom unexpectedly passed away, I finally saw my dad’s vulnerability, his weakness and his undying love for the woman who sacrificed everything for her family… As his caretaker, I got to know him in a different light, and my heart opened up a space for him that had for too long been choked up. Now, I finally understand him.”
Twenty-two months following the death of her mother, Valeria’s father passed away after battling a severe case of pneumonia. It was clear, she explains, that he died of a broken heart.
Today, Valeria honors her parents through her own life, love story, and colorful, cultural legacy. She continues to grow, both deepening her roots into the rich, nurturing ground of her heritage and past, while turning her face to the sun, blooming radiant and resilient in glow of a bright future — and the promise of love as she writes this next chapter of her family story.
“Seven years later, I try to honor them in everything that I do. My journey prepared me to be strong, and I was born to be resilient.”