Maria Camarillo was the heart and soul of her family, said her granddaughter, Ida Maria Camarillo.
“Our grandmother was our protector, our hearts, our matriarch and our queen,” she said. “She was very protective of her children and grandchildren, even as adults. She wouldn’t allow anyone to say anything negative about her children or grandchildren.”
Maria De Jesus Camarillo, called “Chita” by her husband and close relatives, died May 13. She was 85. She was preceded in death by her husband, Francisco Camarillo, in 2011.
She had worked at Florsheim Shoe Company in Chicago, and also sold Avon and would clean houses.
Camarillo loved to watch her telanovellas, and shows like “I Love Lucy,” “The Fugitive” and “Gunsmoke.”
She was an excellent cook, making elephant ears, called bunelos, and tamales during the Christmas holiday season. On Sundays she would make menudo or caldo de res.
“There was always something on the stove when you went over there,” she said. “Everyone looked forward to going to her home. It was truly a home for everybody, a place to gather.”
She was an excellent seamstress, and loved to make barrettes and headbands. She also made Cabbage Patch-style dolls, and loved to have yard sales at her home.
Camarillo said her grandmother taught her family so much about life.
“She always made you comfortable,” she said. “You always felt the warm embrace of her love and her smile.”