The Loyola Family: A Legacy of Unwavering Strength – Dallas Frisco Family Photographer – Me Ra Koh
MEET THE LOYOLA FAMILY
This is definitely one of our favorite Rising Phoenix Experiences to date, and it’s not hard to see why after we share their story. Meet the Loyola family – three generations of strong, courageous, faithful, loving humans who are living life in a way that honors their history AND their future. Truly awe-inspiring, from the stories of Mima’s time as a political prisoner of Cuba, to their commitment to honor and cherish this country and each other, the Loyola family has kept the American Dream alive.
We are so grateful to have the opportunity to share their story with you. May it serve as reminder of how truly blessed we are to live in a free land and to love those around us. Here is their story.. a legacy of unwavering strength.
WARFARE AGAINST CASTRO
Mima was raised in Cuba and came of age in a time where warfare touched every aspect of her life. At the young age of 15 years old, she was involved in guerrilla warfare against Castro and became a political prisoner of war. She was a teenager fueled with passion and conviction.
Mima was caught a handful of times and spent time in solitary confinement. She hid and fought in hills, caves and burned sugar cane fields in a fight against all communism. Her entire life has been a stand in her conviction for freedom. Fleeing a country in political ruin, where hate was rampant, Mima found herself starting a new life in America.
Despite all the pain she experienced as a teenager, Mima told me that when she came to this country she chose joy.
She wanted her children and grandchildren to know a legacy of joy. This alone is so powerful. Mima is pure integrity, fortitude and beauty.
THE AMERICAN DREAM IS ALIVE
The Loyola family’s story is the epitome of living the ‘American Dream’. Mima found herself cleaning toilets early on in her journey as a US citizen. She worked hard and fought harder to give her family a life built on a foundational strength of faith, love and unwavering commitment to ones family and ones country. Just 25 years after landing in the US, Mima’s strong work ethic saw her rise to the top of a bank, and then as the Vice President of a staffing agency. To this day, she still works as a consultant at 80 years old!
Mima won’t take a dime from our government because she is so thankful for the opportunity to be in America. Divorced from a not-good man, Mima was a single mom who cared for her aging parents while working 2 jobs to provide for her entire family. At one point, her place of employment was closing and it was the only place she had worked. With her head held high, Mima refused the money offered to her with her layoff, proclaiming, “I am not an invalid. I can and will find work.”
Her family describes her as brave, fierce, tender hearted and oh-so strong. Her entire family embodies these qualities and they use them to fight for our country in the political realm. Mima’s daughter is politically active with Mima’s nephew, Texas State Senator, Ted Cruz. We are in awe of the resilience and love she exudes and has subsequently passed down to her daughter, nephew, her grandchildren and everyone around her. Mima is leaving a legacy of unwavering strength and faith.
Bibi, Mima’s daughter, is so proud of her mother and the family she has created. She is so much like her mother – bold, outspoken, kind and loving. She is intelligent – her mind is always working! I love how Marino said, “Bibi communicates with her hands and her entire body. Her eyes are so full of life!”
Bibi is always trying to figure out how she can help others and does not back down from sharing her opinion with all who will listen and hold respectful space for conversation. We adore this about Bibi and wish there were more people like her!
WHAT BIBI LOVES ABOUT HER FAMILY
We asked Bibi to list her top 3 qualities she loves about her family. First, she loves their closeness to one another. Bibi shares that she runs a strict household, in the same ‘Spanish style’ that her grandma and mom raised her. They always sit together as a family for dinner and have deep conversations.
Subsequently, this leads to her next favorite thing about her family – they are each other’s best friends! You’ll see this when we share what her kids, Diego and Audrey, had to say about their family. Everyone is in agreement that they would all choose to spend time with each other as family, than spending it with anyone else.
Last but certainly not least, Bibi loves that they truly respect and care for one another. When her children were young she would remind them to look out for one another and ‘have each other’s backs’.
“We have a lot of respect for each other’s wisdom. We balance each other out. And we’re always available to one another.”
BE BLESSED AND BE A BLESSING
Celebrating birthdays in their household is a time for good food and Spanish music! They will sit down around the table and Bibi’s husband, Marino will ask, “What blessed you today? What was hurtful to you today?” Their family’s mantra has always been ‘Be Blessed and Be a Blessing’. Their family is no stranger to vulnerability. Everyone at the table must speak a blessing, even friends whether they feel awkward or not. We LOVE this!
Bibi’s voice is full of emotion as she tells us, “My eyes held absolute joy at the depth, the awe that God loves me so much that He let me be called, ‘Mama’. This is unspeakable joy. It’s how I know God loves me. I remember I was on a flight with Audrey Hepburn once when she was nearing the end of her life after a valiant fight with cancer. Every wrinkle on her face was a smile – it all turned upward. If my eyes could smile with that same unspeakable joy, I will be content.”
“I know I have to release my babies soon. Seeing them as adults, I can’t even put into words how excited I am for them. We’re ecstatic to see them so happy. When they’re happy, we’re happy. Seeing these portraits from this season of life, it would give me absolute contentment.”
WHAT MARINO LOVES ABOUT HIS FAMILY
Marino, Bibi’s husband, LOVES their family’s personality! “Everyone has such a unique personality. We all blend so well and I can feel how happy they are.” With a gentle voice, he says, “Bibi is so beautiful. Diego is so handsome. Audrey is gorgeous. Yet none of them have any arrogance – they’re just pretty to look at! I’m just amazed they are my kids.”
POETRY IN MOTION
Marino and his family love the theatre! He recalls when they first went to New York and saw the play, “Poetry in Motion”. They were all so excited just to be walking down Broadway! They couldn’t stop talking with excitement and anticipation.
He remembers how he just stopped and looked at each of them, taking it all in. He loved watching as they each fell in love with the culture.
“I’m not boasting. I feel like I am, but I’m really not. My family is MAGNETIC. I don’t feel like I’m magnetic at all but my wife and my children all have that ‘it factor’. Elvis is one of my favorite singers and I remember him saying his biggest struggle is he didn’t know why God gave him his talent. He sang every style of music as his gift couldn’t be contained to one style. I feel the same about the gift of my family. Why does God gift me this family? I wonder.”
Marino adores the intelligence in his family. “Bibi has a photographic mind. Bibi, Mima, Ted… they’re all such intelligent people. And phenomenal speakers!”
Marino describes what he sees in his son and daughter’s eyes. Diego is more serious, not quite as teary and outwardly emotional as the rest of them. But Marino can always see his concern on his face. His head tilts in a certain way.
Diego’s smile may not always reach the rest of his face, but it is always present in his eyes.
Audrey will have tears in her eyes with a wide open gaze. She’ll have a little smile on her face. “Her face is so poetic.
Just watching her face has always been exciting to me… you can tell whatever she’s doing, seeing, hearing, she’s feeling it.”
And what does Marino’s eyes say about him? He would say he’s always locked in and exuding emotion. He’s very emotional and loves music, theatre and how it takes you away. He loves piano, guitar, singing and following the music that is so emotive.
WHAT AUDREY LOVES ABOUT HER FAMILY
Audrey speaks with reverence about her grandmother, Mima, and her story. She is so in awe of the faith and boldness she possesses and the story that brought her to the United States to give her family a prosperous future. Audrey sees Mima continue to walk in that boldness and steadfastness to this day and recognizes that because of this, her entire family stands on their convictions and beliefs in a bold way. They remain true to who they are despite what others might think. How Audrey honors the past and ties it to her future is such a beautiful thing.
Audrey loves that her family is BOLD and PASSIONATE. She says they are steadfast. We couldn’t agree more! The family stands firm in their beliefs and fights for them. Audrey says her ancestors instilled in them the legacy of their family and coming to America. Because of this legacy, they remain steadfast and true to their core. They are loyal and do not waver as a family.
HOW HAVE HER PARENTS SHAPED HER?
When we asked Audrey this question, her answer was quick and firm: their sacrifices. She recalls there were many times growing up she remembers her parents sacrificing what would benefit one or both of them for what would be best for their children and the family as a whole.
“Everything we have and everything we are is because of my mom and dad and the sacrifices they have made. We have had the privilege of going to private school, traveling the world and studying abroad. Our dreams were never too big for our parents and even when they seemed outlandish, our parents did everything they could to make sure that Diego and I were being filled constantly.”
“Because of that, I have a different outlook on life. I look at life through the lens of, ‘ you get to where you are because of your strong work ethic.’ You get the things that you have because you work hard for them and you sacrifice for them. They’ve instilled a surreal, deep-rooted meaning towards the family, different from the world’s view.”
For example, Audrey shares that when she first met her fiancé, he asked, “When do you hang out with your friends?” and Audrey replied, “What do you mean? My family are my friends!” Lol! She says a ‘fun night out’ is spent with her parents or her brother.
She loves that her family has instilled a passion and unwavering love for family. “I hope I raise my kids like that.”
THE WOMEN IN HER FAMILY
Audrey describes the women in her family as resilient, strong and deeply loving. She says her mother is resilient – ‘to a T’, bold and passionate and the most thoughtful and caring. “She’s everything you want in a mom and more.” Audrey talks with so much love and wonder about her grandmother.
She says Mima is bold as well, exuberant, lively and FUN but also the hardest worker she knows. “She has the biggest heart out of everyone in the family – it’s unreal!”
Audrey recalls one Christmas where a family friend asked Santa for a specific gift but the family had no money. Mima sacrificed and got him the gift herself. Audrey remembers hearing this now-60-something year old man talk about this instance in his life with tears rolling down his face.
She says Mima’s love is like “no matter what I want in life, I’m going to give it to you and everything that I have is yours. It’s a deep, deep love that cuts through any casual ‘I love you’.”
WHAT DIEGO LOVES ABOUT HIS FAMILY
Diego describes his family as passionate, loving and a family of values.
As a Christian family, their values are foundational and they are solid and unwavering in their morals and faith.
HOW HAVE HIS PARENTS SHAPED HIM?
The first word that comes to mind when we asked Diego about how his parents have helped to shape him is PURPOSEFUL. He says they instilled values in him at a young age that reflects who he is to this day. They were purposeful in how they did it, in how they communicated their values and what it meant. They explained the reasoning behind why they believe what they believe and why they do what they do. He has so much respect for this approach. Also, they instilled the importance of family. “They will be there for me at the end of the day. I am so blessed in how I was raised.”
Diego talks about his parents and how balanced they are. They truly compliment each other. He says his mom is very passionate in a louder way and his dad is very passionate in a more methodical and thoughtful way. His dad is behind the scenes, championing his strong wife. Diego talks about his mother’s passion and deep love she has for her family. “Her passion is what really makes her the strong, loving woman that she is.”
Diego says Mima is a carbon copy of his mom, or rather his mom is a carbon copy of her! Mima is full of passion, fiery, unfiltered and truly passion and love combined. What beautiful words!
We can only hope someone would describe us as such when we’ve lived such a long and fulfilled, impactful life.
WHAT MIMA LOVES ABOUT HER FAMILY
Mima ADORES her family. She speaks of them with so much compassion and respect. She describes the women in her family as very strong women, people who seek freedom, who are not afraid to speak their words as God’s creatures. They believe in God and follow His path.
“The women in our family are strong, and very opinionated in the sense that they have ideas already set and ready with a lot of potential to continue to guide the family in the right direction. They are just AMAZING LADIES!”
We asked Mima to describe herself and much like how her family has described her, she says she is strong-minded, caring but strong, direct and loving. She says she has a lot of feelings which can be hidden at times because she is such a strong human being. She also shared her heart with us when she describes her daughter, Bibi is truthful, dedicated, loyal to others, full of love and a wonderful child of God. “I am very proud of the way she’s become as a mother and wife. I am very happy and so very proud of her.”
A LEGACY OF UNWAVERING STRENGTH
Wow. Just WOW. Being in the room with this family is such a palpable, inspiring blessing. They each stand for the very best this country and humanity has to offer. We were a bit nervous about how to do their story justice in sharing it with you. Our biggest hope is that their Rising Phoenix portraits possess and convey everything about who they are and their unwavering strength and faith.
Everyone in the family described the incredible energy they experience at the dinner table. When Mima shares, they all lean in. I LOVE Mima’s hand in this portrait. The generational impact she has made is palpable.
See How Beautiful It All Looks in Their Home!
Bibi could not contain herself when she saw their family’s Rising Phoenix artwork! So many happy tears from both her and Audrey!
She even put her words into the most beautiful Google review!
“Wow just wow! From the second we started the Fioria experience we have been blown away. This isn’t a sit and pose for a portrait… It was such an emotional experience … each of us communicating and sharing about one another….
Most of all, it was spectacular to see the finished work of art and we mean art .. museum quality prints with a magnificent care for details … the words of affirmation and labels on the back of each print, the presentation and finally the installation were a delight for us to see! These prints are generational… an eventual gift to my children’s children whom will be able to catch a glimpse of our eternal love for our family!”
The Loyola’s are truly leaving a generational legacy within their family and community and we are so honored to be a small part of their impact on the world.
Begin Your FIORIA Legacy Experience
At FIORIA, we take time before the photo shoot to call family members, giving both the young and old a voice in what is most meaningful to you. This isn’t about having a pretty picture but about creating something powerful, meaningful and genuine. We capture the resilience of you and your family–your Rising Phoenix within.
It would be an honor to help you discover, capture and celebrate it with our unique FIORIA Legacy Experience. Your experience starts with our Signature Discovery Call.
Schedule Your First Discovery Call by filling out our Inquiry Form. We are so excited to take you on an unforgettable journey.
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