Cecilia de Jesus Real Hernandez, lovingly known as Chila to friends and family alike, entered into her eternal rest on March 16, 2022. She was 82 years old.
Chila was born in Guatemala on November 22, 1939. As a child, she sold tortillas at the local market to help support her family. Being of Kaqchikel Mayan descent, the Guatemalan civil war brought great tragedy and loss for Chila and her community. Life was not easy for her, but she tackled it with a joyous spirit and unrelenting faith that followed her throughout her life.
Upon moving to the United States, Chila began working in homemaking, caring for and raising children with the same love and dedication that she did her own son in Guatemala. In 1980 she began working with newlyweds Alan and Luisa Rains of Alexandria, Virginia. When their first child, daughter Louise, arrived in June of 1981, she officially joined the family to help raise Louise. With the arrival of their son, Taylor, in 1986, Chila further cemented herself as a second mom of the Rains household. After the children had graduated college and began starting lives of their own, Chila cared for Luisa’s ailing mother Josefina (Nena), providing comfort and companionship to her in her final years before she ultimately passed away in January 2016. In August 2016, Taylor and Louise — her hijos postizos — stood by her side as she proudly became an American citizen. In December 2019, she began her next exciting adventure, helping to raise the second generation of Rains children with the arrival of Louise and her husband Carlos Gomez’s son Gabriel as his “Chi Chi”.
Above all else, Chila was a family-builder. A matriarch. She cared deeply for her family in Guatemala — son Ricardo, her granddaughter Aura Cecilia, and great-grandchildren, Luisa Fernanda and Luis. Despite the distance between them, she doted on them in the way only a mother can. Over the last 42 years, she became an integral and inextricable part of her American family, the Rains and Gomez. Her loss is profoundly felt by both family units, as well as all who encountered her thunderous laugh and generous, loving touch along the way.
In lieu of flowers, please consider a donation to your local adult literacy organization in honor of Chila. As someone who did not have the privilege of education as a child, she worked tirelessly as an adult to learn alongside the children she cared for, and never took for granted the gift that is education.
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