Chicago Archives - StoryCorps

Chicago Siblings Remember Brother Lost To COVID and the Love He Left Behind

Growing up in the Little Village neighborhood of Chicago, Jorge and Jessica Valdivia looked up to their older brother, Mauricio. To many, he was a larger-than-life personality known to light up the room with his jokes and pranks. To his siblings, he was the rock of the family who always took the time to let them know they were loved.

Jorge remembers one Christmas when his parents couldn’t afford presents and Mauricio surprised him with his first Transformer, which he still has.

In April 2020, Mauricio, 52, died from COVID-19. He left behind his wife, their two sons, and a huge void in the lives of those who loved him most. Jorge and Jessica came to StoryCorps to share their favorite memories of Mauricio and what he meant to them.

Top Photo: The Valdivia siblings, from left to right: Eliseo Jr., Mauricio, Jessica and Jorge. Courtesy of Jorge Valdivia.

Bottom Photo: Jorge Valdivia holds the Optimus Prime Transformer that his late brother Mauricio got him one Christmas when they were young. Courtesy of Jorge Valdivia.

Originally aired February 5, 2021 on NPR’s Morning Edition.

DACA Recipient on the Pressure of Living Life Undocumented

Irakere Picon was just two years old when his parents brought him to the United States from Mexico on a tourist visa. They never left.

He was aware something was different about his childhood, but it wasn’t until he applied to get a driver’s license that he realized his immigration status might get in the way of his dreams.

In 2012, Irakere received protections from the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program and was able to attend law school.

It was around that time that he met Arianna Hermosillo on a bus and later asked her on a date to Millennium Park in Chicago. When they were together, Irakere told Arianna he was undocumented.

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Irakere and Arianna were married earlier this year, but it remains unclear whether Irakere will be approved for a green card for permanent residency.

Top photo: Arianna Hermosillo and Irakere Picon pose at their StoryCorps interview in Chicago on February 3, 2018. Photo by Laura Saenz for StoryCorps.
Bottom photo: Irakere Picon and Arianna Hermosillo on their wedding day in Oak Park Conservatory in Chicago. Courtesy Arianna Hermosillo and Irakere Picon.

Originally aired October 19, 2018, on NPR’s Morning Edition.