Rogaciano Ríos Marcial: Widowed father navigating raising kids alone


After long days of construction work, Rogaciano Ríos Marcial enjoyed coming home to his wife’s comforting meals. Some days she’d treat him to chicken mole or his favorite traditional Mexican soup, menudo. The two would swap stories each evening and catch up on each other’s adventures.

The couple met about 11 years ago when they both worked at a Pappasito’s restaurant. She was busser, and he was a dishwasher.

“We loved each other so much,” he says in Spanish. “We were so happy.”

But shortly after Mother’s Day, María Lorena Suárez Escobedo fell into a coma and never woke up. She died on May 22 of liver complications — two days before her husband’s 46th birthday. She was 41.

About five years ago, a vein near her liver erupted and wreaked havoc throughout her organs. She received treatment then, but the pain returned this year. Ríos Marcial noticed her health deteriorate drastically in May, when he persuaded her to get emergency treatment. By that point, though, she could barely speak.

Suárez Escobedo had grown fearful of doctors after several rounds of medication and bloodwork, but she finally agreed with her husband. She responded well to the medication at first, but her husband was soon told to prepare for the worst.

The news that his wife would not survive hit him one afternoon while leaving the hospital and walking to the bus stop. He began to weep uncontrollably. “I remembered God and asked him to take away the pain,” he says. Praying helped him collect himself, but he rode back home that afternoon realizing for the first time that his entire life was about to change.

When Suárez Escobedo died, Ríos Marcial became a widowed single father to his four children and six stepchildren. “Why did this happen to us?” the younger kids ask him. “Why is Mom gone?” He doesn’t have the answers. All he knows is that each day he has to muster the strength to hold the family together without his beloved wife.

Ríos Marcial now cares for their four children, Alma, 10; Jasmine, 9; Keaity, 7; and Jesús Roberto, 5. His stepchildren live with other relatives.

As a single dad, Ríos Marcial has struggled to manage the family’s new normal, from cooking duties to combing his girls’ hair and making them ponytails before school each morning. He’s still working his full-time construction job, though he had to leave an additional part-time job to care for his children. Each night he’s reminded of those evening conversations that he shared with his wife and misses talking to her.

Nowadays, before bed or whenever the family heads out of the house, Ríos Marcial blesses each of them with the sign of the cross. Alma, the oldest, then blesses him.

To donate to Season for Caring, click here; to read about the other Season for Caring families, go to statesman.com/seasonforcaring.



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