Sunday, January 15, 2017

Grandma Turtle

Esperanza Jacobs 

 April 2, 1945 - December 15, 2016


 (copied directly from her Memorial Program for those that were not able to know her)

Esperanza was born on Monday, April 2, 1945, in Yuma, Arizona to Luciano Ruiz and Ambrosia Alvarez Ruiz.  Esperanza or Espie as she was called, spent many of her days working in the fields surrounded by her many cousins and friends.  She is "remembered as "the silly rabbit" of the group because she always tried to make them laugh during the long, difficult days.  Espie graduated from Kofa High School in Yuma, Arizona in 1963.  

In the Fall of 1969, Espie was staying with her friend Yogi when she met Gary Jacobs, a young Marine stationed in Yuma.  They were married on January 9, 1971 at the Winterhaven Chapel in Winterhaven, California.  

Once married, the young couple moved to Kansas City, Missouri.  On July 14, 1971 their first daughter, Kim La Sandra Jacobs was born.  Four years later, Carrie Norma Meg Jacobs was born on September 4, 1975.

In 1992 Espie took on the role of Ancient Mara in the Ramona Pageant.  She played the role of Mara for 18 years.  I would like to add here that she worked with this play for over 30 years in other capacities as well.  

Her new role as Grandma Turtle began on October 24, 2001, when Espie became a grandma for the first time.  Clarissa Aurora Strucke was followed by Kobe William Qua on August 11, 2002.  Her third grandchild, Dravyn Edward Strucke was born on November 17, 2003.  

On December 15, 2016, Espie earned her wings and took on her final role as our Guardian Angel. 

 These are more than just words on a page for me.  My son was her fourth grandchild just as much as I was her third daughter.  Aunt Espie was my aunt but she treated me like I was so much more.  After a difficult incident in Missouri I came out to California and lived with Aunt Espie and Uncle Gary.  

Before then, I saw them every few years and while they were fun, I really didn't know them well.  I have cute stories from my Mom of Carrie being "my baby" before they moved to California.  They lived right across the street from us!  They are my godparents. I have a picture I will be sure to add of me holding Carrie.  You can tell how much I loved doing so.  But I was only about a year old and those memories are of course lost to me.  Then they left for California and their life here began.

Fast forward about 19 years and you find me in their home in San Jacinto, California.  My cousins live in LA and I really didn't get to seem them much.  But at Uncle Gary and Aunt Espie's home I was safe and loved.  I could go to either one for personal talks and had a willing ear.  My Mom eventually joined me out here but I will never forget the warm welcome I was given in their home.  Time passed, things happened and I went back to Missouri for a brief 2 years.   But I returned and brought my most precious gift back with me - my son.  

For one reason and another we didn't meet up with them again until Christmas Eve about 2002.  Clarissa was a bit over a year, Kobe was just a few months old and baby Dravyn wasn't here yet!  TJ had just turned 4 in June of that year and Clarissa was smitten.    TJ loves babies even now and put up with being admired fairly well for a couple of years.  It was cute, all the family functions he had all three eventually following him like little ducklings.  The funny thing was it had been a few years and it was like no time passed at all.
Clarissa, TJ, Drayvn
We all took up where we left off, just with a few more family members!  Aunt Espie was never Great Aunt Espie to TJ.  She was Grandma.  So many family dinners, so much laughter, so much love.  I know I keep mentioning both my uncle and my aunt but you see, there never was one without the other.  She was such a vibrant personality and my uncle is such a calm one.  They complimented each other.  There was a picture yesterday at her memorial that exemplified their relationship.  It shows a family gathering that is so long ago it could be the 70's, before I was even born.  What I see though is my aunt standing and talking to someone and my uncle is looking up at her with the ultimate adoration on his face.   

Their marriage was not perfect and I am sure they had fights but that picture is mostly what I remember of their relationship.  You see, my father's side of the family divorced me when my Mom divorced him.  My uncle Gary is his brother.  As far as Uncle Gary and Aunt Espie were concerned, I never stopped being family.  I know he had a hard time because it IS his brother but when he would start feeling guilty, Aunt Espie was there to tell him that I was here and needed him.  She protected me like a mother bear!   I would like to thank Carrie and Kim for letting me share their mother.   

Yesterday was hard.  I have severe social anxiety but I loved my aunt dearly and wanted to show her honor and respect.  We got there a bit early to help set up and I ended up sending my Mom home.  Dad had a stomach virus and with severe panic attacks lately TJ chose to honor his Grandma Espie from home.  

On a day that they needed support, my family supported me.  I shouldn't say that, we supported each other.  My niece Clarissa told me I could hide behind her if things got too much.  Considering she is 15 and about two heads shorter, this was adorable.  We went to a Mass for my aunt and it was beautiful.  They combined elements of the Catholic faith with Native American touches as well and it really honored her heritage.   My aunt was Mayo Indian and Phillipino.  She was extremely active in the church and with the Soboba Indian Reservation in general.   My uncle has been part of the Sundancers for a long time and his elder and brothers came to help honor her as well.   You could feel the love in that church.  

Stories were told, yes, I even spoke!  I about tossed my cookies when I sat down, I talked so fast I am sure nobody understood me and I couldn't look up at the church members.        But I did get up and talk about why she was special to me.  Carrie grabbed my hand, when I noticed she was having trouble I grabbed hers.  Clarissa laid her head on my shoulder as we all shook with tears.   The boys didn't make it through their poems without waterworks of their own.  The St. Joseph Church is tiny but that place was packed.  Its really interesting to attend a Catholic Mass on an Indian Reservation.  You get to see the two mixed in a way that enhances both cultures.  

I think the two stories that I will never forget were told by my aunt's cousins.   I guess they all grew up together so they were very close.  One told about how they used to sneak away from picking as teenagers to go swim together in the Salton Sea and the other talked about why my aunt was the silly little rabbit.  She used to pick a carrot and make a huge production out of brushing the dirt off until she deemed it acceptable.  And only then would she eat it with small nibbles, just like a rabbit.  I love knowing more about my aunt and the story my cousin Carrie shared about her childhood just brought me to tears.  

I guess in her world, all stories had a happy ending.  Well, I don't want to mess up my aunt's last story.  So...

They all lived happily ever after as...

Mayo Indian

Philippine Flag

St Joseph Church on Soboba Indian Reservation, San Jacinto, CA


Front: Uncle Gary, Carrie

Back: Aunt Espie, Kim
their guardian angel watched them from above 

The End 

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