What really matters most of all


By Terri Lynn Oldham House

We have been fortunate to witness the extraordinary beauty of family, friendships, unselfishness and kindness these past several weeks.

Last week, we shared a photo of Moises “Uncle Moe” Martinez celebrating his 84th birthday on April 11. His son, Ron Martinez, and nephew, Leonard Martinez, organized a surprise birthday party for Uncle Moe, urging relatives and friends to drive by his South 8th Street home and honk their horns while following guidelines for social distancing.

On Friday, Karin Daniels’ fun-loving friends celebrated her birthday in style with an impressive drive-by parade complete with decorated cars, costumes and plenty of shenanigans. Editor’s note: We can’t print Daniels’ age or we will be in big trouble. 

The next day, Rhonda Webb tried to get away without the public fan-fare, but friends and loved ones managed to honor her birthday with a parade and show of love. Repeat the editor’s note from the previous paragraph here.

Also last week, Lila and Lester Rivas were celebrating their 82nd and 83rd birthdays, respectively, at home in isolation when three of their children, Rose Salas, Jeff Rivas and Isabel Rivas-Vita, along with numerous loved ones, including in-laws, grandchildren and great-grandchildren, showed up to celebrate. They were only missing one son, Anthony, who lives in Oregon.

Lester’s birthday was April 16 and his family showed up and sang “Las Mañanitas” and “Happy Birthday” to him. 

They returned the next day for Lila’s birthday and the couple came out on their deck while Jeff Rivas began strumming on his guitar and Heath Rivas on harmonica playing along to a recording of Freddy Fender singing, “If he brings you happiness …” 

You could hear Lila saying “that’s my favorite song” through her tears of joy. 

The whole musically talented family joined in unison belting out the words in English and Spanish to Fender’s “Before The Next Teardrop Falls.”

At one point, Lester left to go inside the house, only to come out with his guitar to join in the end of the song, “I’ll be there before the next teardrop falls.”

There wasn’t a dry eye in the yard surrounding the home (with everyone practicing proper social distancing).

Other touching displays of kindness went beyond birthday celebrations with family and friends. Those acts include volunteers assisting people they know and even people they don’t know with grocery shopping, chores, donations and other incredible acts of human kindness.

We’ve seen our town council dig deep to pull out funding to provide gift cards for people in need, along with other financial support.

Entrepreneur Jason Cox unselfishly coordinated Takeout Tuesday sponsored by the town, county, census and Chamber of Commerce, connecting residents with restaurants and representing a community effort to bring some normalcy and delicious food during the pandemic.

We’ve been told of the generosity of people sending wonderful food to feed our hospital staff. 

People have shared photos of volunteers picking up quite a bit of trash around the community.

School bus drivers and cafeteria workers have been packing healthy breakfasts and lunches and delivering them to students throughout the county. 

Rotarians have also provided food through the club’s backpack program and other donations to help those in need.

Loaves and Fishes and local food banks have worked together in an effort to make sure no one goes hungry.

We’ve seen exhausted grocery store staff and other essential workers still wearing smiles and offering a helping hand after a long, hard day at work. 

Mask makers have been sewing for weeks to generously provide the hospital and community members with face coverings.

Local bankers and businessman Mark Weiler have met with small business owners and offered support, encouragement and knowledge in an effort to help keep them afloat and restart the economy of our community. The bankers have worked tirelessly to get Small Business Association loans processed and closed.

We applaud these celebrations of love and acts of kindness and generosity, which all demonstrate the remarkable resilience of Pagosa’s people and their ability to embrace what really matters most of all.