Viola was born on Tuesday, October 23, 1928, to Jose De La Luz Sanchez and Henrietta Mary Sanchez. Viola passed away on Monday, February 15, 2021, at the age of 92. Her life was simply, a love story.
Our Mom lived her entire 92 years within a two-mile radius of where she was born, in the heart of the South Valley. She did not travel very far to find the man who would become the love of her life. They lived across the street from each other on the corner of Severo Rd. and Arenal Rd. Viola began dating her future husband, John Martinez-Metzgar when she was 16 years old. Shortly thereafter, Dad graduated from AHS and enlisted in the Navy. The distance between them did not interfere with their ever-deepening love for each other. Upon Dad’s return they became inseparable. Dad went to work for the US Treasury, which at that time was located on the fourth floor of 521 Gold Ave. Mom worked around the corner on Central Ave. at Franklin’s Department Store. Mom said they would meet daily on their breaks to have a coke. At night, Dad was a bartender at La Loma Nightclub on Central Ave. Mom would meet him there on weekends. On his breaks, they would jitterbug to the sound of the numerous Big Band orchestras that would come to town in the 1940’s. Dad and Mom could definitely cut a rug! They both loved the music of the time. Even years later, us children would marvel at their dancing skills at wedding dances. They truly put a smile on our young faces.
On September 2, 1950, our parents tied the knot at St. Anne’s Catholic Church at 7:00 a.m.! Following Mass, they jumped into a horse-drawn carriage and paraded down Isleta Blvd. to the sound of people honking and waving as they drove to work. After the reception they made their way home to the newly completed house that Dad and his dad, John Able Martinez had built for them. The new house was adjacent to the properties they had each lived in as children. Keeping with the tradition of the time, Dad carried Mom across the threshold. It was here, in this now 71-year-old house, they would live their entire adult lives.
After having seven kids within ten years (all by C-section), Mom’s doctor strongly suggested that for health reasons she should stop having kids. The devote Catholics that they were, Mom and Dad actually visited the parish priest at St. Anne’s to ask permission to stop having kids. He agreed with the doctor and that was that. No more kids. This actually worked well as all nine of us could barely pack into our 1962 Ford station wagon for summer trips to California. To this day, we can sit for hours reminiscing over photos of those family trips along with hundreds of other photos of grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
When the seven children grew up and moved out, Mom and Dad saved every dime they could and with that money they travelled around the world. They went to Europe, South America, Hong Kong to name a few, and nearly every state in the US. Mom particularly loved their trips to Los Angeles where Dad’s sister and brother-in-law would take them to fancy restaurants they worked at in Hollywood and along the Sunset Strip. Mom was never shy about walking up to Dean Martin and others and saying hello as if she knew them. She did hesitate when Al Capone was sitting in the next booth on one occasion. In all the numerous photographs of those trips of Mom and Dad together they were always holding hands. This was the norm no matter where they would go.
Mom lost her Johnny, the love of her life and her soulmate in 2013, after 63 years of marriage and 68 years of love and companionship. As Mom got older, short term memory loss became a challenge. But her long-term memory remained substantially intact. It was with great pleasure that her now grown children would listen to her stories of yesteryear. She remembered the exact tree that, as a child, she fell out of and broke her arm. She remembered swimming in the nearby South Valley irrigation ditches with her cousins and friends. She remembered watching her dad and our uncles butchering a deer after a hunt. She told us how her mom would give her 25 cents to go to the movies. She would spend ten cents for the bus, five cents for the movie, and ten cents for popcorn and a coke.
Mom truly was the matriarch of the family. Along with Dad, they would wake us up early each and every Sunday morning to make sure we got to 9:00 a.m. Mass. On time! Mom taught us how to read before we started first grade at St. Anne’s Parochial School, so we’d get a jump on the school’s rigorous private school agenda. Every Wednesday night, she’d go to the Church for choir practice. On Sunday, we’d easily recognize her distinct and strong voice as it would overpower her fellow choir members. She loved to sing and had a beautiful voice. At home, she was always singing just as happy as one could be. She loved staying home taking care of us, cooking, and cleaning, and waiting for Dad to come home from work and always greeting him with a big smile and a kiss. She made sure we all had our homework done before Dad got home so we could spend evenings together.
Education was a primary focus of our parents. They expected us to get good grades (rewarding us when we made the Honor Roll) and encouraged all of us to be involved in school activities. Shortly before she passed, Mom was asked if she recalled her children’s participation in high school activities. She immediately began to reminisce. She remembered that one of her sons wore number 32 in the basketball while another son wore number 32 in football. She proudly remembered watching all three of her daughters dance for the Rio Grande High School Castenettes, and her sons playing football, basketball, baseball, and track. Mom actually won a senior tennis tournament at Westside Community Center after having never picked up a racket in her life. She remembered the birth of her first grandchild, a beautiful little boy. Little did she know at the time, she would have 17 more. Mom remembered the things that were most important to her—anything having to do with her Jitos and Jitas.
Mom lived a simple life. Not something you see much in this day and age. She enjoyed things as simple as looking at clouds in the sky and trying to figure out what shape they had taken. She loved looking at the Sandia Mountains anytime we traveled north on I-25 beyond the Big Eye and she’d reminisce about all the family picnics we had in those mountains during the summer. She loved sitting on the front porch and watching the planes passing over our house as they came from the west and began their descent to land. But mostly her existence was predicated on her unending, unconditional love for her husband and her children. She preached daily about staying out of trouble, knowing full well that we lived in a relatively tough neighborhood. She praised us when we did good and grounded us when we were disobedient. She and Dad preached that we should never be “followers”—that we should lead and have others follow us. Today, her seven children all appreciate how we were brought up—how we were so loved. This was Mom’s greatest gift to us.
So, let us not sorrow that our Mom has passed, but rejoice in knowing that she now walks hand in hand with Dad, in the presence of the Lord. And so, the love story continues in Heaven, Forever.
Viola was preceded in death by her parents and brothers, Miramon, Rudy, and Adelbert; and her sister, Alice. She is survived by her brothers, Lawrence Sanchez and Gilbert Sanchez (Gloria). Also surviving are her seven children including sons, Leonard Martinez-Metzgar (Selena), Jimmy Martinez-Metzgar (Karen), Lawrence Martinez, and Gary Martinez; daughters, Laura Sanchez (Paul), Lorraine Chavez (Ken), and Debbie Wilson (Larry). She is also survived by 18 grandchildren and 19 great-grandchildren. Due to Covid-19, services will be private. Mom will be laid to rest with our Dad at the National Cemetery in Santa Fe. In lieu of flowers and in memory of our Mom, she would ask that you show an act of love to a family member and an act of kindness to a stranger.
Thanks to Presbyterian Hospice for their guidance and care over the course of the last month.
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