SALT LAKE CITY — Back in 1972 in Lanús, a small town in Argentina, Maria Roseto — the second oldest of four siblings — said goodbye to her family to go to America.
In 1976, Marta Roseto, the youngest of the four, left to serve a Mormon mission in Chile. Marta came to the United States three years later and her mother came a year after that.
It took 40 years before the family saw each other all together again. The emotional reunion occurred Thursday at the Salt Lake City International Airport.
"Last week I was crying all the time and I was happy," said Marta of the anticipation of seeing her siblings. "We are going to celebrate birthdays and Christmas and everything."
Ernestina Roseto, 91, the mother of the siblings sat in a wheelchair, fashionably dressed with a yellow blazer and a sun hat, waiting with her youngest daughter Marta for the rest of the family to arrive for what would be the reunion of all reunions for the Roseto family.
Minutes past noon, siblings Vicente, Rosa and Maria walked through the airport terminal toward their mother and sister who could not contain their emotions upon seeing their faces in person.
Rosa Roseto, 64, the spunkiest of the siblings, wore a River Plate jersey, a local soccer team in Buenos Aires. She skipped with a spring in her step as she sat on the side of her mother's wheelchair and give her an emotional kiss. She last visited her mother 12 years ago in 2000 when she came to celebrate her mother's 80th birthday.
Ernestina and Rosa celebrate both of their birthdays on Aug. 16. But because of financial difficulties, Rosa and her mother were only able to celebrate a limited number of those birthdays together.
Vicente Roseto, 69, the oldest of the four, had never visited the United States or left Argentina prior to his arrival Thursday. He walked in disbelief as he looked between his sisters and his mother at his side.
"I never thought that I would be here," Vicente said in Spanish.
The family could not afford the airfare to travel to see each other together. It wasn't until Vicente and Rosa, who also still lives in Argentina, retired and found time to travel. But loans were still needed to pay for the airfare that precluded the rest of the siblings' family in Argentina to miss the big reunion.
Marta, 58, said that she would never have recognized her older brother if not for pictures on Facebook. She had not seen Rosa in 12 years and had not seen Vicente in 20 years.
"Time flew so fast that I don't know why (it took) 40 years (for all to reunite)," Marta said.
Maria Roseto Algiere, who now lives in Houston, returned to Argentina last year. When she returned to Texas, she brought back photographs of the family and shared those photos to Marta, who was amazed that she did not recognize her brother.
"Who is the gentleman with Maria?" Algiere had asked when she saw the photos. "It must be one of our cousins and then when I saw the full face, (I recognized) that is my brother."
Algiere's arrival was kept a secret from her mother. Ernestina was only expecting Vicente and Rosa's arrival from Argentina. The surprise of all the siblings reunited after so many years brought tears of joy to their mom.
Once the siblings arrived, they quickly began reminiscing about the past. All had their father in mind. Nicola Roseto, an Italian native, was a sailor but tragically died when he was 33. The ship that he was on went down in 1956 near the Gulf of Pensa in Chile along with 56 other sailors.
After he was killed at sea, Ernestina said she had no desire to hear about religion.
"I didn't want to know anything about anything," she recalled in Spanish. "But, afterwards I said, 'No, how can I not? They took away my husband, but nobody is at fault.'"2 comments on this story
Marta and her mother came to Utah in 1981 after joining The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the only Mormons in the Roseto family.
Ernestina is now known as "the Queen" in her Spanish-speaking ward, according to Marta. She joined to the church in 1978, shortly after Marta returned from her mission.
Now with the family reunited, Maria, Rosa and Vicente plan to spend the next two weeks in Salt Lake City. Then they will all fly to Houston, where they will spend another two weeks with Maria's family reliving memories and making new ones, together at last.