Jesus Olivares Perez, 86, of Irvine, CA., passed away on Sunday, October 20, 2019, in Irvine, CA.
"Uno se tiene que mover para ganarse la vida."
In the thawing of the morning, at 9:30 on Saturday the 14th day of January 1933 AD, in the humble home numbered 5 on Calle Allende in the colonial villa of Cerralvo, Nuevo Leon, Mexico, God illuminated life to our beloved father, Jesus Olivares Perez. Firstborn to his parents Jesus Olivares Pompa and Juana Perez Gaytan. They baptized their son in the villa’s Catholic Church San Gregorio on November 5, that same year.
The birth of Jesus Olivares Perez created a blended family: Olivares Perez and the existing Olivares Madrigal. To clarify, grandfather’s first wife, Margarita Madrigal, left him a widower with six children. So, Dad had half brothers and sisters: Sabas, Guadalupe, Rosa, Pilar, Margarito, and. Gregoria. A few years later, Dad was blessed with two more sisters: Rafaela and Heriberta. Almost two decades later, Dad was blessed with another half-brother: Robert Rodriguez Perez.
After Dad’s fourth birthday, he was left fatherless, and his paternal grandparents Sabas Olivares Martinez and Guadalupe Pompa Vela passed away too. Dad’s mother was forced to relocate most of the newly blended family to Monterrey Nuevo Leon, where her parents resided. Father was raised by his maternal grandparents Encarnacion Perez and Petra Gaytan. Thus, Dad’s maternal grandfather was his father figure and role model.
Grandfather Perez would take Dad with him through the streets of Monterrey, teaching him how to conduct business. At the end of a long day of marching and negotiating, Dad was ordered to return home alone while his grandfather went on about his business. Grandfather Perez dished out lots of advice and would not let Dad play until the lecturing ended.
Dad did not like school because the older boys picked on him. He confessed that he would escape out a window and go home. Nevertheless, Dad earned a sixth-grade education in Monterrey. That was enough for our father and the rest he learned from his grandfather.
1945 disrupted the family when Dad’s mother left to work and establish herself in Brownsville, to provide a better life for her children. Coincidentally, Dad’s half-brother Guadalupe “Lupito” invited him to reunite with his half-brothers in Cerralvo. Dad accepted the invitation that turned out to be one of his first adventures. During the short stay in Cerralvo, father bonded with Margarito, who had been entrusted to Tia Rafaela Olivares Pompa de Rios after Margarito’s mother passed away.
Dad stayed with his Tio Jose Rios and Rafaela Olivares. Tio Jose had livestock, which Dad helped Margarito tend out on the range. One day tending livestock, Dad, a city boy, got lost chasing a rabbit into the woods. Fortunately for Dad, Tio Jose found him at nightfall. That day, Dad recalled eating grapes from a wild vine and pondered why he never saw that vine, again.
1946 brought another adventure and journey; our father took the courageous solo bus trip to Matamoros, where one of his Tios, on his mother’s side of the family, smuggled him into the US. At 13 years of age, Father reunited with his mother. To mark this incredible feat, Dad was photographed in a studio. Dad is pictured sitting on an antique chair, wearing second-hand clothes his mother bought him for this special occasion.
In his early teens, Dad took another Adventura when he accompanied a migrant worker family. Using the migrant family’s dead son’s birth certificate, Dad traveled to New Mexico. On this chance, a police officer stopped the family and tried to deport Dad. Once again, luck was with Dad; the migrant family debated with the officer, and Dad escaped a terrible fate of being displaced from his family.
Adventurous was Dad. He did so much since mandated schooling was not a priority for him. Instead, the world was his classroom. One of Dad’s gamble was classic. He learned to be a pool shark at a local bar in Brownsville. Dad earned easy money, but it was insufficient cash to fill his pockets the way he dreamed.
In his late teens, Dad matured and entered the workforce by gaining employment in a cotton gin in Brownsville. It was then that he earned his nickname Venado because he was so energetic at work. To this day, Dad’s closest friends address him as Venado, respectfully.
Sometime between 18 and 20 years of age, Dad was mandated to military training in Mexico. A year-long service to all bucks seeking government benefits. Dad is pictured in a military uniform that fits his appearance perfectly. Although Dad’s photo paints a vista of military discipline, he expressed his dislike for the military. I presume Dad didn’t like to take orders. Dad displayed a strong character of being a young rebel seeking his identity, in a country still foreign to him.
The years ticked on in the international border town, and1956 was at hand; Father met his wife, Hilda Gloria del Bosque Martinez. The couple met at a bus stop somewhere downtown. Their courtship was short and soon had children: Maria de Jesus, Hilda Guadalupe, Juanita Giselda, Flor Estella, Jesus Jr., and Gloria. Their first was born in 1957 and the last one in 1966. Unconventionally, three years after their firstborn, our parents married at 1 PM on Tuesday, September 27, 1960, in Matamoros, right across the Rio Bravo.
Searching for a steady job, Dad moved his family to the shipyards in Corpus Christi. At the end of 1966, in the cozy coastal city of Corpus Christi, a minor brush with the law caused Dad to return to Matamoros.
A new era emerged with the embarkment of 1972. At the start of the summer, we saw dad and the family dog Pocha covertly cross the Rio Grande River minutes after a Border Patrol Agent passed by, and we waited anxiously to greet Dad on US soil. Shortly after his crossing, Dad relocated us to Southern California and Southern Arizona, where we settled in 1973. That was the year that our Dad became an entrepreneur. He started to do business at the swap meet. Lucrative self-employment that he quickly mastered to capitalize by buying and selling just about anything, especially tools. Our father became a swap meet businessman.
The prosperous 70s were upon Father; his financial security enticed him on yet another adventure. So, in the summer of 1976, Dad journeyed back to Brownsville, where he and Tio Abuelo Hemerigildo Estrada constructed our first home in the woods of Cameron Park located just outside the city limits. In Cameron Park, our temporary shelter was a mesquite tree, a 1958 Chevrolet Apache flatbed truck, and a 1963 Chevrolet station wagon. Other than mosquito bites, lack of modern utilities, and meals cooked on a fire pit, Dad was home.
This venture came to an end, and we returned to Arizona. Dad went back to his job at the cotton gin and re-established his entrepreneurship. Dad boasted that he earned a couple thousand on a good weekend at the swap meet, unlike the meager hundred dollars paid at the gin for a week’s work.
1977, a turning point in Dad’s life. Father bought his first house in the suburb town of El Mirage. The end of the 70s and into the early 80s were profitable for father. However, all good things come to a pause (definitely not an end). It was then that the law caught up with dad, and he had to return to Texas, 1982 – 1983.
Once back home in Arizona, Dad saw his daughters and son marry. In the 1980s, dad purchased land in the middle of the desert and constructed another home. However, he and our mother went separate ways and destroyed the house. Also, Dad experienced the loss of his sister Rafaela, better known as Tia Ita.
After separating from mom, Dad sought refuge in Brownsville with his older half-sister Rosa. Tia Rosa and Dad bonded again. They watched out for one another. This era was difficult for Dad. Especially when his mother died, his brother Margarito, his sisters Gregoria and Pilar, and his niece Rosa Maria Olivares, Tia Rosa’s only daughter.
At the turn of the century, Dad met his new companion Lupita Almaras. In time, they lived together in her home and sold at the swap meet regularly. Nevertheless, Dad still watched out for Tia Rosa. The three of them had many distant travels together.
The year was 2010, in the bone-cold month of December. Dad became ill, and his lower leg was amputated. Not long after the first amputation, Dad’s leg had to be amputated once more. Dad’s doctor warned that dad would not live five years more. Against the odds, Dad’s daughter Flor Estella Olivares Huerta took Dad’s life in her hands and became his guardian angel. Flor educated herself about his medical conditions, sought out the best medical treatment, care, and supplies available to him. She did this on her terms, and with the blessed assistance from her best friend, Nancy Gallegos. Dad spoke highly of Nancy and treated her with the utmost respect.
Flor relocated father to California after it was apparent that he could no longer drive his van. He inadvertently parked it into the side of a building. Sadly, Dad had to leave Lupita’s hand when she went into a senior home. Yet Dad moved forward.
The years that followed were intense and tiring for both Dad and Flor, who scheduled his medical appointments, transported him everywhere, and accompanied Dad on vacations throughout the United States and even Mexico.
Another turning point in Dad's life was the loss of his sister Rosa and his friend Lupita in Brownsville. Dad was a loyal man regardless of how much he suffered; he always made an effort to stay in contact with these women.
During this decade, Dad confided in Flor about everything, especially his intimate thoughts and feelings. Dad created a close bonded with Flor that he honored her the power to speak and act on his behalf until the very end. On the cold night of Saturday, October 19, 2019, in Irvine, CA, our beloved father, Jesus Olivares Perez, transcended into the spiritual world. Officially he was pronounced early the next morning. Three months short of his 87th birthday.
Sr. Jesus Olivares Perez, 86 strong years of age, is survived by his children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, sister, nephews and nieces, son in law, daughter in law, former wife, countless friends, and extended family members.
On his death bed, Dad courageously looked me in the eye and softly proclaimed, “Los quiero a todos iguales.” No other words had to be said; Dad had come to mutual terms with his creator. It was time to move forward, to his eternal life.
Jesus Olivares Perez, our father, showed us that "Uno se tiene que mover para ganarse la vida." Dad earned his life, moving forward with the power and courage that only a father can generate for his children. Dad’s journeys and adventures are endless, as is his memory.
Dad’s words bring to mind a quote frequently read: Yesterday was history; Tomorrow is the future. Today is your life, Live it.
I ask you to take a precious moment and share an experience you had with Jesus Olivares Perez. Please jot down your short story and share it with us. Our father lives in us, and we keep him immortal by knowing more about him. Bless you.
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