In Memory Of ESPERANZA RIVERA GONZALES
March 14, 1922- December 30, 2014
I knew her as Aunt Hope, she was 92 years old.
Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
1 Cor. 13:7
I am half Mexican, half Irish. Today, at the showing I was looking forward to seeing all my "familia". I was going to make the most of every second. I wanted to ask questions and connect dots on my fathers side.
My fathers name was Tommy, he was Uncle Tommy to most of them. It has been 30 years since my father passed away. I was 11.
As my family walked into Coats funeral home, I lead the way. I instantly saw Lila, my cousin. Within minutes I was surrounded by Hispanic cousins. I never wanted to leave.
"This is Tommy's daughter?"
"She looks like Mary Lou."
"She looks like Uncle Tommy."
"Oh, I remember your mother, she was sexy." That was awkward!
But again, I loved it. I embrace my history, my family. I had not seen them since the last funeral, my Uncle Gills, several years prior.
|Cousins, Bobby and I|
The way they looked into my eyes, searching me, comparing me, discovering me. I wanted to touch them all, I wanted to see my father in them, I wanted to hear stories of them all. This is who I am.
Lila, put her arms around me as we walked up to see her sweet mother. "I have to pull you away or you will never get away." she spoke softly in my ear.
|Cousins, Lilas Brothers|
Her mother was beautiful. She looked so peaceful. Her high cheekbones and olive skin hardly showed the hard life that she lived.
The Mexican side is not much different then the Irish side of my family. They live hard lives.
Lila's voice is like an angel, It is soft. Her skin is lighter, like mine. She has her mothers cheekbones above a gentle smile. I clung to every word she shared of her mother.
Then she tells me a story I had never heard.
|Cameras kept snapping.|
Your father was in the hospital dying. The first day he arrived in the hospital he was in the bed dying. I had just received the Lord. (She grew up Catholic). I went to the side of his bed Anita and laid hands on him. I prayed with him and asked him to receive the Lord. When I finished, I asked him if he said the prayer and understood would he squeeze my hand. And he did.
Tears streamed down my cheeks as they do now.
My father died of liver failure, at 47 years old.
But one day I will SEE him Again. This little girl yearns at 41 to see her earthly father, I will SEE HIM Again. I am so excited.
Lila spoke of my mother. She asked how she died. In shame, I tried to pick the right words. Lila's big brown eyes gently caught mine, "Anita, she over dosed right? It wasn't purposefully. It's Ok, Its is the life they live, you are a testimony, you chose to take a different path."
She didn't make excuses, she didn't make it uncomfortable, she was honest, loving, making the truth so easy.
It is the life they live.
I am not defined by my circumstances, my past or my mistakes. I am not made from my history, but my history is part of my make-up. It is how I choose to use my history that creates my story. They are part of my story, but that is not where my story ended.
My Cousin Cecelia always says "Anita, We are Family, we are all we got." Today I heard this about a dozen times, "We are Family." I loved hearing those words, so welcoming.
Distance: 1 mile warm up on track, 3 miles TM = 4 miles total.
Ice 15 minutes
ANITA Maria Gonzales
ANITA Maria Gonzales