November 12, 1922 ~ January 10, 2010
Bernadine Fernandez was born on November 12, 1922 in San Antonio Texas. She was the eldest of six children born to William F. Deffee and Josefa L. Lozano. Mom's parents were seasonal migrant workers and went wherever the harvest took them. Bernadine (also known as Nina) came to California in 1966 and lived in Santa Barbara and Los Angeles areas. Most recently lived and was cared for at Heritage Rehabilitation Center in Torrance.
Mom studied hard to earn her GED and attended Santa Barbara City College. Education was the only thing she could give us that would live forever and that we could instill in our own families. She had many struggles as a single mother and knew that education would be our way out of poverty.
Bernadine has been the "go to "person when prayer was needed. Family and friends could count on her novenas, special prayers and rosaries in time of need and thanksgiving. The Sacred Heart of Jesus, Virgin of Guadalupe and Saint Jude of Thaddeus were her favorites, but she was also known to turn San Antonio upside down when something was lost or missing. She had a prayer for every cause and aliment, and often turned to her collection of prayer books, cards and missal for guidance.
Mom had an incredible ability to remember dates and events. As resent as Sunday, January 3rd she was running down the list of all the birthdays in the month. At the beginning of every month I would get a list of special cards she wanted me to purchase and send because she was no longer able to do it herself. Mom passed on the same date as our dad, Felix G. Fernandez, her way of not letting us forget the anniversary of his death. She would say to me,"don't forget to light a candle for your dad today is his anniversary" or "today is his birthday". Of course I never forgot but I let her remind me anyway.
Family was very important to her and prayed for unity in our family. Mom loved to have family together and cook for us all. When we were young and all still at home there was always Sunday mass and lunch afterwards. She made the best homemade flour tortillas, she finally stopped making them because we ate them faster than she could make them. When mom still had her apartment she often called and said, I made nopalitos come by and I'll make you some tacos or come by after work so you won't have to cook dinner. Since she's been in the home she would have me out searching for her cravings of tacos de cabeza, de lengua and her favorite de cezos, at times a challenge to find. Even though mom was on a special diabetic diet family, friends and caregivers would give in to her cravings of home cooked Mexican foods. She'd call me and say "guess what I ate today?" I could never guess and it gave her so much joy to finally tell me.
Two of mom's most resent memorable moments were her 87th birthday on November 12th and Jeffrey and Liliana's wedding on November 21st. On her birthday she donned a Cinderella crown and munched on her favorite foods and of course birthday cake which she loved. The second was the much anticipated wedding. Mom was so excited to get her hair done, wear her beautiful gown and shoes. She was so full of joy and happiness that her prayers had been answered; she was going to the wedding and would dance with Jeff at the reception. Felix wheeled her out to the dance floor and helped her up into Jeffrey's arms to dance. A tearful moment for us all who watched her fulfill her wish.
Mom married young and had nine children. In her first marriage she had five children and in second had four. Mom loved us all and was proud of our accomplishments. She is preceded in death by her parents, three siblings and two children Oscar Reyna and Sonia Fernandez. Mom is survived by Adriana Jones, Henrietta Fennell, Celia Maldonado and Elizabeth Fernandez, daughters and Victor Reyna, Felix Fernandez and Joe Fernandez, sons; Arthur Deffee and Ofelia Heidelmeier, siblings, 26 grandchildren, 48 great grandchildren and 10 great great grandchildren. What a legacy Bernadine Fernandez leaves behind.
A vigil will be held at Rice Mortuary in Torrance, CA from 5:00 pm to 9:00 pm with the rosary at 7:15 pm. The catholic funeral mass will be held at 10:00 am at St. Catherine Laboure. Cremation and shattering will be held at a later date. A gathering of family and friends will be held immediately after the mass at the home of Elizabeth Fernandez (Betty); maps will be made available.
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