GRAPEVINE, Texas — Igilio, 7, and Marilyn, 9, are old enough to always have memories.
But Damian is just two years old.
He will have to rely on for pictures and stories about Jennifer Mendoza — the woman he, Igilio and Marilyn knew as “Mommy.”
Their baby sister, Mayra, didn’t get the chance to know their mommy at all.
Jennifer Mendoza gave birth to Mayra in October.
A few days after they came home from the hospital, Mendoza developed breathing problems.
She returned to the emergency room, tested positive for COVID-19, and never came home.
Mendoza died on Dec. 3, her 34th birthday.
“Her kids were everything,” said her brother David Mendoza. “To her last minute, she still kept fighting for them.”
“She was the kindest person ever,” he said, wiping a tear from his eye.
David said his sister was understanding, compassionate, loving, and generous.
“If she could, she’d move mountains to help you,” he said. “She’d pull down the sky and the stars for you to help you.”
It seems her generosity is living on.
Igilio and Marilyn attend Timberline Elementary in Grapevine-Colleyville Independent School District.
The baseball team at nearby Grapevine High School adopts a family each year at Christmas.
This year, they adopted the Mendozas.
Wednesday afternoon, Igilio, Marilyn, and Damian stood wide-eyed at their front door as baby Mayra was being held in a window.
They watched as seniors from the team loaded up their porch with presents.
“We have so much sympathy for them,” said Konlan McKinley, a second baseman and pitcher. “It’s a terrible thing that happened.”
“Christmas is all about giving to others and helping out as much as possible,” he said. “We had the opportunity to give back and we thought as a baseball team and as a community, we should do that.”
Konlan and his teammates also gave the family $4,000 and several gift cards.
The family is struggling to keep up with bills, and a Go Fund Me account has also been set up to assist.
“They’re so happy,” David said, pointing at his nieces and nephews. “From the bottom of our hearts, a big thank you.”
David said he sees his sister in her children.
“Every time they hug me, I feel like she’s there,” he said.
“I’m going to tell them every day for the rest of their lives that their mother was the most beautiful person on this earth, the most compassionate and the most big-hearted.”
He said he will ensure her legacy of kindness and generosity lives on through Marilyn, Igilio, Damian and Mayra.
Even if they barely knew her, he’ll make sure they always love her.