Monday, February 14th, 2022
A Guadalupe Centers Love Story
El Amor Devino (The Divine Love) describes the Gilbert and Dolores Rodriguez love story, which has lasted over 70 years, when he was 15 and she was 13. Still strong to this day.
Gilbert had just moved from Corpus Christi, Texas, in the late 1940s. He made a few friends who had invited him to one of the Guadalupe Centers’ fiestas; a party he described as standing-only with around 1,000 people.
While he was playing with his friends, he said some girls were running around, when one of them bumped into him, a Guerrita. “I almost could have kissed her. She smiled at me, then I looked at my friends and said ‘I’m going to marry her,’” said Gilbert.
He remembered seeing her a few weeks before when she and her sister were defending themselves against some boys; using her pigtails to fight them off and walking backwards to make sure they wouldn’t mess with them anymore.
“What is her name?” Gilbert asked at the fiesta, they all responded that they called her Guerra, but her name was Dolores.
He finally built up the courage to ask her to the movies, she said no. Her father thought she was too young to date, especially since her15 year-old sister had just started dating.
Instead of backing off, Gilbert persisted and strategized, first persuading Dolores’s sister’s boyfriend to let them double date so that she could tag along with her sister.
It worked, but Dolores said they would just be friends. So, he walked her to school, from work, carried her books, and serenaded her with his guitar. Something clearly worked.
“When you’re young, you don’t think,” Dolores said with a smile as she looked at Gilbert, who then mumbled, “And we were just supposed to be friends.”
She couldn’t help but mention how much she loved how great he was at playing the guitar, just as quickly, she shook her head when she remembered he had over 40 guitars.
Then the great flood of 1951, caused by heavy rains, led to a great rise of water in the Kansas and Missouri Rivers, killing 17 people and displacing more than 518,000 people.
A few young men, including Gilbert, were asked to work for Union Pacific after the flood. When they all got paid, some would get cars, new clothes, spend on unnecessary things, but Gilbert spent his 250 dollars so he could purchase an engagement ring for Dolores, while they were in high school.
After the flood he joined the service to fight in the Korean War like many young men, specifically because he didn’t want to go to school. However, their love was still strong. Every week, regardless of where he was stationed, Alaska, Hawaii, California or in another country, Dolores sent him a letter.
He survived off of ten dollars per month out of his 120 dollar-a-month check; saving up to $4,000 dollars so he could get back and marry his girl.
And just like double dating with Dolores’s sister and her man when they were teens, they double wedded when they got older when Gilbert was out of the service.
They married at Our Lady of Guadalupe and held their reception at Guadalupe Centers; one of the biggest wedding receptions the center had seen, he said.
“We had seven kids, we had our hands full,” said Dolores. In addition to their seven children, their family includes several grandchildren ranging in age from 4 to 48.
When asked about what advice he would give about love he said, “Take it serious, because it ain’t no other kind of way.”
Dolores’s advice about love- “A day at a time.”
His time with this enduring love was tested three years ago when Dolores laid in a hospital bed in a coma for a few days. Unsure as to why, Gilbert wouldn’t accept just any answer, he wasn’t ready to let go. He voiced his opinions, his disagreements and even asked for more doctors, because he wasn’t satisfied with the answer of the specialist that she had meningitis.
So, one day a senior doctor walked in, looked around at the other doctors, and said, “She doesn’t have meningitis.”
And just like that Dolores woke up and said, “Good morning doctor.” Emotions from the family broke out, and just like his love in the beginning,Gilbert was patient and persisted.
“There isn’t a single day I don’t tell her how beautiful she is,” said Gilbert.
A divine type of love.