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Candelaria Lomeli

Candelaria Lomeli

  • In the early morning hours of May 28, Candelaria “Lala” Reyes Lomeli passed to her eternal reward. She died as she always lived: surrounded by family who loved her deeply. She was the sun that her family moved around, some orbiting at a further distance and others closer, but it was her gravity that always pulled them back together, around her warm and soothing light.

    Born in Brownsville, Texas, on December 1st, 1941, Candelaria was one of 12 children growing up in a humble home just along the U.S.-Mexico border. Among the prickly poppies that bloom profusely in the borderlands, she made the best of the salty ocean air and inequitable terrain, beginning a lifetime of beauty that continues to reverberate. At an early age she had a deep well of responsibility that often included backbreaking work, like hand picking cotton. Yet, despite being a hairpin over 5 feet tall, she was strong in stature, and was always willing to do whatever it took to take care of her family.

    At the age of 17, she married Pete Hernandez and left Brownsville, living subsequently in Amarillo, Dallas, Houston, and Crockett. She had 12 children with Pete, raising them with compassion and kindness. Later in life, she briefly remarried to Hilario Lomeli, and had another son. She was everything her children needed, and even when the world was not enough, she helped them feel whole. One of her children, Robert Abel, passed away as a small child, yet their connection remained transcendent. Always attuned to the unseen and the spiritual, she looked for and saw the signs of his presence around her. Her “little bird” remained an angel to her even in her final days.

    She worked many jobs to support her family over the years: a caretaker of the elderly, a bilingual teacher at Latexo ISD, an owner of a store and a bar, an after-hours cleaner, and more. While working outside the home, she nonetheless reminded her children that being a parent, brother, sister, aunt, and uncle were the most important jobs one could have, and the work of family should be taken up with honor and generosity.

    As her children grew, she encouraged them to take careers they were passionate about, to advance their educations, and to fall in love. In love, she wanted her children to find people who loved them and would take care of them as fully as she would—and, of course, she was quick to look for and recognize this in the partners of her children. While encouraging them to dive with full force into their own love stories and families, Lala always pushed her children—and in particular her daughters—to know how to take care of themselves. You never know the curve balls life can throw at you, and she taught them independence and self-sufficiency with the urgency of a woman who knew that life doesn’t always go your way. And yet, when life knocked you down or you were hurting, she told her daughters to get dressed, do their hair—to wear their strength on the outside, like a real chingona. Privately, she reminded her children that it was not their fault when people they loved hurt them. She built up those around her, making them feel strong and capable. She was adamant in her ideas, but non-judgmental—her children always deserved forgiveness.

    As her children grew, they too became parents—and grandparents—themselves, making Lala the direct forbearer of over 100 descendants. As a grandmother, Lala played a central role in all of these lives. “Don’t spoil your children,” she told them. “That’s my job.”

    The lessons she left us with are immense. Vics vapor heals damn near everything. Food should be made con ganas, and kitchens are places not just for filling the belly, but also for filling the soul with raucous laughter and love. She made chicken soup when you were sad, and tortillas for everything else. Quick to fix you a plate of breakfast tacos or give you the last $20 out of her bra, she taught us to live generously. She taught us to be brave in a world that can be hostile—and to look good when doing it. Life wasn’t always easy for her, or for her family. There were difficult times. There was trauma, and violence. But she had a unparalleled ability to take that pain and transform it into love and compassion—a reflection of the strength of her spirit. Even in her later years, as Parkinson’s began taking her physically, the doctors said they had never seen a heart so strong. A devout Catholic, she showed those around her how faith could heal and protect.

    Finally, she taught us that it was okay to laugh at ourselves, to dance, to drive fast, and to simply enjoy life. She loved to scare and play tricks on people for everyone to laugh. Just as she teased us, we teased her—and she always reveled in the shared laughter. She has all sorts of idiosyncrasies and funny sayings, and everyone in the family has a “grandma Lala impression”—generally a mix of odd curses, moans and groans, and singular ways of saying things. As we would tease her, she used to laugh and joke back to us, “When I die, don’t cry. Don’t cry, ya.” Instead, she would probably want us to crack open a beer, fire up the grill, turn up the Ramon Ayala, and feel the breeze on a slow Sunday. Growing up in wide-open spaces, she was happiest in the country throughout her life, and we return her now to this place that she loved.

    She is survived by 12 children: Diana May Downs, Ramona Amador, Petra Hernandez, Patricia Hernandez, Candelaria Hernandez, Esther Hernandez, Sandy Salazar, Roberto Hernandez, Christina Isget, Cecilia Ager, Elizabeth Cedillo, and Hilario Lomeli Jr. She is also survived by 32 grandchildren, 55 great-grand-children, and communities of friends who knew her and loved her.

    Funeral services for Candelaria Lomeli will be held Friday, May 31, 2019 12 noon in the St. Francis of the Tejas Catholic Church with Rev. Nolan Lowery officiating. Family will receive friends for visitation at 10:30 a.m. with the Rosary at 11:30 a.m. prior to services. Interment to follow in the Latexo Cemetery.

    Online condolences may be made at www.callawayallee.com.

    CALLAWAY-ALLEE FUNERAL HOME

9 Comments
  1. To the family of “Lala”: What a beautiful and well-written obituary that one, or several, of you have written as a tribute to your mom! You have certainly managed to capture her so well! The last time I probably saw your loved one was when Hilario (Junior) graduated from high school. I always remember her as being such a kind soul and a devoted Catholic mother. When I was teaching Hilario in kindergarten at Latexo, she was always eager to help out in any way that she could with my students. I always enjoyed being around her because she just exuded such warmth and sweetness all of the time! She was always so proud of you guys, and she loved sharing with me what you were all doing in your lives. Please know that I am praying for the eternal rest of her soul in Heaven with God, Our Father; with Jesus, Our Redeemer and Savior; and with The Holy Spirit. If we can believe what the folks that have had near-death experiences report, I think “Lala” was met by all of her loved ones that have gone on before her to their final resting place. Isn’t it comforting to know that sickness and pain do not exist in Heaven? I want to assure you all that I am praying for God to give your family the grace and strength you need to find comfort and peace from your grief during this difficult time in your lives. Sincerely, Norma Lewis

  2. What a beautiful tribute to this lovely and certainly well-loved and respected matriarch of her family.
    I met Mrs. Lomeli when she and I both worked at Latexo. She always wore a smile and had kind words for everyone. She loved working with children.
    It is clear that she left that same spirit in her children. Her youngest, Junior as we usually called him, was bright, caring, and determined; always willing to help younger students.
    Prayers for peace and comfort to the family.

  3. Dear family ,
    Words can’t bring much comfort for your grief , but it can be said your mother had a life “Well Lived”! She was a ray of sunshine and kindness in the halls of Latexo ! God blessed her with much wisdom , as she always seemed to have the right things to say to brighten my day , not to mention that contagious smile of hers! She was loved by all and will be missed ! Till we meet again in heaven LaLa !!
    Proverbs 31 says it best

    A Wife of Noble Character
    10 Who can find a virtuous and capable wife?
    She is more precious than rubies.
    11 Her husband can trust her,
    and she will greatly enrich his life.
    12 She brings him good, not harm,
    all the days of her life.
    13S he finds wool and flax
    and busily spins it.
    14 She is like a merchant’s ship,
    bringing her food from afar.
    15 She gets up before dawn to prepare breakfast for her household
    and plan the day’s work for her servant girls.
    16 She goes to inspect a field and buys it;
    with her earnings she plants a vineyard.
    17 She is energetic and strong,
    a hard worker.
    18 She makes sure her dealings are profitable;
    her lamp burns late into the night.
    19 Her hands are busy spinning thread,
    her fingers twisting fiber.
    20 She extends a helping hand to the poor
    and opens her arms to the needy.
    21 She has no fear of winter for her household,
    for everyone has warm clothes.
    22 She makes her own bedspreads.
    She dresses in fine linen and purple gowns.
    23 Her husband is well known at the city gates,
    where he sits with the other civic leaders.
    24 She makes belted linen garments
    and sashes to sell to the merchants.
    25 She is clothed with strength and dignity,
    and she laughs without fear of the future.
    26 When she speaks, her words are wise,
    and she gives instructions with kindness.
    27 She carefully watches everything in her household
    and suffers nothing from laziness.
    28 Her children stand and bless her.
    Her husband praises her:
    29“There are many virtuous and capable women in the world,
    but you surpass them all!”
    30 Charm is deceptive, and beauty does not last;
    but a woman who fears the lord will be greatly praised.
    31 Reward her for all she has done.
    Let her deeds publicly declare her praise.

  4. Such a loving tribute to a remarkable lady. My thoughts and prayers are with all of the family. I pray you will lean on the Lord for comfort and peace. Lean on each other. God bless you all ♥️✝️

  5. I believe in Angels on Earth,.your mom was one. Clifford and I loved her like family,and she fed him like he was one of the kids. She raised awesome kids,and you gave it back when she needed you. We will all miss her sweet smile. Sue Price

  6. Family, I did not know your Mother…just the ones of you who went to school with my children. Every thing I ever heard about her was good….and so were her children. You were blessed.

  7. Rest In Peace Miss Lala. You were a wonderful lady. You will be sorely missed by all. Prayers for the Family.

  8. What a beautiful tribute to a sweet lady. You can tell by this tribute that she raised a loving family that will miss her tremendously. I know she is looking down smiling that sweet smile and is so proud of the legacy she left. My prayer is that you find comfort in all the sweet memories you have of your Mom and Lala. May God bless you as you go through this loss. We were truly blessed to have known her. Latexo students were so blessed to have had her in their lives.

  9. Such a beautiful tribute to a very sweet and special lady, She always had a smile for everyone. You can tell by the tribute that she raised a very loving family. She is smiling down at the beautiful legacy she has left. My prayer is that you find comfort in the beautiful memories you have of your Mom and Lala. We are all blessed to have known her. The Latexo students were so blessed to have had her in their lives. May God bless all of you.

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