REFUGIO, Texas — At the La Ribera Mexican and Seafood Restaurant off U.S. Highway 77 in Refugio, we found Lisa Bedolla and her daughter, Larissa, enjoying their lunch break.
Larrissa says that the biggest issue facing her is her finances.
A car accident and then COVID-19 left the 22-year-old looking for work.
“It’s kind of rocky and rough,” she says.
But slowly, she’s getting back on track. Larissa just got a job right next door at H&R Block. Her grandmother helped get her that job, cementing the relationship she has with all of her family members.
“How important is my family to me?” she said. “I am behind every single one of my family members, 10 toes deep.”
And when it comes to her parents, Larissa does her best to make sure they know she's doing the best she can.
“And I know no matter what, I can make them proud,” she says, crying. “They raised me right.”
Lisa Bedolla says she’s proud of her daughter.
“I’m proud of each of them,” she says about her children. “We have three girls and a boy. My family is my life.”
Life hasn’t always been easy for Lisa Bedolla. Her parents divorced when she was just 13. And being the oldest - she took care of her two younger siblings.
“It was very hard,” she said about her adolescence. “Didn’t let that stop me from being the parent that I was, wanted to be for my kids, for my children.”
Her family is the foundation for Lisa.
“I would give my life for my kids and my grandchildren,” she said.
Family is just as important to Nettie Hensley and Ronnie Henning - especially during the pandemic.
Hensley says that her family is the unifying element during these trying times.
“We, when you brought up family, it brought up COVID, too, because everything has been taken away from us,” she said. “Our church or our entertainment and it’s left us with nothing but family.”
Hensley calls it a gift.
That’s one of the blessings that has come out of the pandemic for her. It took a lot of distractions in life away, put the focus back where it should always be - in the family.
Hensley’s friend from high school and now boyfriend, Ronnie Henning, couldn't agree more. The two knew each other from their high school days. But they became reacquainted back in May.
Family is just as important to Henning.
“Family means everything,” he said. “I've come from a family where I have 86 first cousins, my daddy was the oldest out of 13, you know?”
Henning also has a lot of friends that he considers family.
“We started the first-grade together,” he said. “We're 68 years old, all of us, and we get together and make trips together and we're friends. We know who's carrying who to the grave, you know?
“Well, we always said it took a village to raise children and so, in our town it was the 12 o'clock whistle that called us in and the 6 o'clock whistle that called us in.”
But Hensley left those whistles of Refugio behind. That was 40 years ago. Little did she know how life would come full circle.
“I couldn’t wait to leave,” she said about her excitement to initially depart from her hometown. “Actually, couldn’t wait to come back.”
She says that she wouldn’t trade her experiences for anything in the world.
“You know, you’re going to bring some tears,” she said. “Because, no I wouldn’t. We all have our scars. We all have our baggage. But I wouldn’t be where I was today had I not experienced and lived those things. So no, I wouldn’t trade anything in.”