Faith and respect are the glue that holds the Riveras together

The Riveras today.

Photo by Adam Lapierre.
The Riveras today.

For Jorge and Gavina Rivera, faith is the glue that has held their marriage together through the trials and tribulations of the last four decades.

The two longtime Pine Grove residents celebrated their 40th anniversary last month in similar fashion to their January 1973 wedding in Michoacán, Mexico: a humble gathering surrounded by those who matter most — family.

“Our wedding was small and simple,” Jorge said. “Resources were not available in those days; we didn’t have the means to buy anything fancy for the wedding. Our families were there and we were all happy; that was the important thing.”

At their anniversary last month, Jorge and Gavina were again surrounded by family; but this time with six children and seven grandchildren of their own to add to the celebration of a long and happy life together.

Traditions were strong in the small village where the two came from, so their first date, and the many that followed, were done in secret. After a few years of dating, they decided to get married. As the oldest of nine children, Gavina had a hard time convincing her father that marrying Jorge was a good idea.

“It was normal for the father to be that way back then, especially since I was the oldest,” she said. “It took a while, but Jorge was a good man and my father knew that.”

Like clockwork, 10 months after the wedding, their first child, Pepe, was born. Not long after that Jorge made a difficult decision that would end up changing their lives forever. He left his wife and child to find work in the United States.


The Riveras in their younger days.

“When I first came here I didn’t know anything,” he said. “I didn’t know anything about the U.S., about what to expect or how long I was going to be gone. I did it to find work so I could send money back home.”

“When he left I felt like the world caved in on me,” Gavina said. “It was a difficult time.”

Jose made his way to Hood River that first year and discovered that several other families from his home state had found work and settled in the area.

He returned to Mexico and the following year returned to Hood River with Gavina.

“At first we had to leave Pepe in Mexico with his grandmother,” Gavina said. “That was another very difficult time.”

“We liked Hood River and found that we could both live and work here, which was very hard to come by in Mexico at that time,” Jorge said.

Since 1980 the two have been in Hood River permanently and have since raised a family of four boys (Pepe, Sal, Jaime and Jorge) and two girls (Gabby and Lindsy). Throughout all the difficulties in their lives, they credit just a few core principles as the keys to staying happy together.

Number one: Faith and scripture. Number two: Respect for each other no matter what. Number three: Effort.

“Our belief in God and the scripture as a guide has been the glue that has kept us together,” Jorge said. “Effort is also very important in that. You can have faith, but it you don’t act upon it, it doesn’t work.”

“In the early days I felt fortunate for any time we could spend together,” Gavina added. “I fell deeply in love with him and have respected him every day since. He has returned that respect, and, for me, that is why we have been happy together for so long.”

As advice for young brides, Gavina said “Treat him with respect and loyalty so that he in turn treats you with the same.”

“My advice to any husband is to be kind and respectful,” Jorge said. “Although she is stronger than you in many ways, she is also much more sensitive. Never forget that.”

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Parkdale third graders sing "12 Disaster Days of Christmas"

Welcome to your sing-able Christmas gift list. What follows is an emergency rendition of “12 Days of Christmas” – for outfitting your home or car in case of snow storm, earthquake, flood or other emergency. Read it as a simple list, or sing it to the tune of “12 Days” – you know, as in “ … and a partridge in a pear tree…” Not to make light of it, but the song is a familiar framework for a set of gift ideas that you could consider gathering together, even if the recipient already owns items such as a bunch of coats, tire chains and flashlights. Stores throughout the Gorge are stocked up on all these items. Buying all 12 days might be prohibitive, but here are three ideas for checking any of the dozen off your list (notations follow, 1-12.) The gift items needed to stay warm, dry and safe are also coded to suggest items in your abode (A) in your car (C) or both (B). 12 Gallons of Water (A) 11 Family meals (B) 10 Cans of propane (A) 9 Hygiene bags (B) 8 Packs of batteries (A) 7 Spare coats (B) 6 Bright red flares (C) 5 Cozy blankets (B) 4 Tire chains (C) 3 Flashlights (B) 2 cell phone chargers (B) 1 And a crush-proof first aid kit (B) Price ranges? Here’s a few quotes for days Three, Two, Four and Nine: n A family gift of flashlights (three will run $15-30, Hood River Supply, Tum-A-Lum) n Cell phone chargers (two will run $30-60) n Tire chains (basic set, $30, Les Schwab, returnable if unused for the winter) n Family meals ($100 or so should cover the basics for three or four reasonably well-fed days) n The home kit should be kept in a handy place near an exit, and remember that water needs to be replenished every few months. If you have a solid first aid kit already, switch out the gift idea with “and-a-sto-o-u-t- tub-for it-all …” Otherwise, it’s a case of assembling your home or car kits and making sure all members of the family know what the resources are and how to use them (ie flares and propane). Emergency situations are at worst life-threatening, at best deeply uncomfortable if you and your family are left without power for an extended period, or traveling and find yourself in a situation where you need to wait out a storm, lengthy traffic delay, or other crisis. Notes on the 12 gift ideas: 12 – Gallons of water: that’s one per person in a four-member family to last for three days, the recommended minimum to be prepared for utility outages. 11 – Easy-open packaged goods, energy bars, dried food and nuts are good things to include for nutrition. Think of what your family of four needs for three days to stay fortified and hydrated (see number 12). Can-opener also recommended 10 – If you have a propane camping stove, keep extra fuel handy. 9 – Hygiene bags: put packaged moistened towelettes, toilet paper, and plastic ties in large garbage bags (for personal sanitation) Resource list courtesy of Hood River County Emergency Management, Barbara Ayers, manager/ 541-386-1213. The county also reminds residents to Get a Kit, Make A Plan to connect your family if separated, and Stay Informed. See to opt-in for citizen alerts. Enlarge

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