Stories: Who We Have Lost
Double Heartbreak: Remember the Rivera's
Who did you lose to Covid 19? Mike & Mary Rivera (1 of 2)
The beautiful love affair of Mike and Mary Rivera began on November 18, 1963. Theirs, like many other marriages was not perfect by any means, but I can tell you without a doubt that there was no Mike without Mary or Mary without Mike. They were married for 57 years before they died. Mary died on 12/12/2020 and Mike died on 01/07/2021. They were the parents of Mike Rivera Jr., Belinda Trevino and Michelle Rivera. They were also grandparents and great grandparents. If being a grandparent was a job, they would have been employee of the month every month. They loved their grandchildren and great grandchildren with everything they had in them.
Our immediate family is not huge, but I want you to imagine the chaos of our Thanksgiving/Christmas dinners. My sister, Michelle always hosted all of our holiday dinners and my mom would be beaming as she walked in with her infamous cornbread dressing and sweet potato cake. The dining room was always loud and you could not hear yourself think, but when it came time for the prayer before we ate, you could hear a pin drop. The love that our family has for each other will always be unbreakable, but we will always feel the absence of our wonderful parents. They raised us to be kind, faithful, family oriented, loving, hardworking people so it is important that we continue their legacy with pride.
Mary Rivera was born on 12/24/41. She did not have the privilege back in the day to go to school past elementary because she had to stay home and help take care of her 11 siblings. She was not able to read or write, but she worked hard all her life being a housekeeping supervisor. She would sometimes work two jobs just to keep us afloat. I didn’t realize back then as a kid that she was teaching me valuable lessons that would come later in life. When I was in high school, I would help my mom clean offices and I told her that one day I would be working in an office like the ones we were cleaning. I fulfilled this dream and just recently retired after working 30 years as a Human Resources Administrative Assistant at a school in Delaware. Our agreement was that I would retire after 30 years and return to Texas to be near her and my dad. I retired on July 1, 2022 and it was bittersweet because they are both no longer here. I now visit their gravesite and not their home. Sometimes we are lucky enough to have our mom visit us in our dreams. Her love was so strong that it still radiates all around us. We feel her in the wind and hear her in the cardinal’s birdsong.
Mary Rivera was one of the hardest working people. She loved you with all her heart and soul. She had the most infectious laugh. Her laugh alone could have anyone in the near vicinity laugh along with her without even knowing what they were laughing at. She was a beautiful woman inside and out. There just aren’t enough words to describe her that would give her the justice she deserves, but according to Leo Ceja (her great grandson), his Ma made the best sausage and eggs and all her other grandkids immediately agreed with him. They said her breakfasts were better than any restaurant’s they have been to. Her and my dad were an intricate part in helping to raise their grandchildren who are now either college graduates or in the process of getting a college degree. Earning a college degree was important to both her and my dad. Thankfully, they were able to attend most of our college graduations. The pride and joy in their faces made it all worth it. I know they will be there in spirit for future college graduations, weddings, births, or any celebrations we may have.
Now for the funny side of Mary. Our mom was notorious for calling people by the wrong name, even one of her own daughters. Her daughter has always been called by her middle name Michelle instead of by her first name of Yvonne. The following are other names that she used instead of their given names: Brittani=Brinni; Patricia=Nana; Jose=Che; Katlyn=Kaylynn; Arielle=Ari; Hugo Jr=Mijo; Hugo Sr=Dingy; and I saved the best for last…Brittani’s husband Chris=Gomer (as in Gomer Pyle) because he’s in the military. In return we had our own names for our parents. My sister called them her “big kids”, I called them my “rebellious teenagers”, and my brother and Brittani called them their “old people” My sister would take her “Big Kids” out to eat and run errands every Friday. She says she misses them walking through her door and calling out her name raring and ready to go!