StoryCorps: A Daughter Remembers Her Mom, A Single Mother Of 10 Maria Rivas stepped in as caretaker when her aging mother, Julia Medina, began having health complications. After Julia's death, a nostalgic photo reminds Maria of their life together.

A Daily Mother-Daughter Moment Documented Forever

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The StoryCorps Legacy project gives people a chance to remember loved ones lost to serious illnesses. Julia Medina was a single mom who raised 10 children while working as a cleaning woman in Fresno, Calif. In the last years of her life, her daughter, Maria Rivas, took care of her. Maria remembered her mom with Caroline Dezan, a social worker at a hospice center.

MARIA RIVAS: She was strong. I remember once when the vice principal of the junior high kicked me out because I was chewing gum. And she went up to the school and said, I need to talk. And he put his fingers in his ears because he didn't want to listen. I thought she was going to whack him.


RIVAS: My mom reached across that desk, pulled his hands out. And she goes, you're going to listen to me. My daughter was just chewing gum. She's a good student. She needs to be in school.

And she stood there with her arms crossed. And that guy looked at my mom and said, Maria can go back to class now. I was, like, so proud of her. I'm like, man, she's strong.

DEZAN: That's mom.

RIVAS: Yeah, that's mom. As hard work as she did, her skin was so soft. And I used to love to always touch her skin. I was kind of a pest, I guess. I would sit right next to her. And I would grab her cheek. And I would pull her skin up like a tent, you know. And she would go, ay, stop it, mija. And then years later as she got older, after I'd bathe her, I'd put the lotion on her. I was like, oh, I get to touch her and feel her skin. And I really, really, really miss that.

Whenever I'd leave, my mom would step out on the porch and she'd wave. And I knew that one day she wasn't going to be out there to wave at me. So I said, I need to take a picture of her waving. And I'm so, so happy I took this picture, because before I go to work and I'm heading out the door, I always open the door back up and I go, bye, Mom. And I wave at her - wave at her picture. I miss her waving. I miss that.


MARTIN: Maria Rivas remembering her mom, Julia Medina, as part of StoryCorps' Legacy project. Their interview will be archived, along with hundreds of thousands of others, at the Library of Congress.

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