Summer in the Waiting Room: Faith • Hope • Love
Chapter 7: Familia Peralta
During those long phone calls between our first and second dates, I got to know Sandra very well. She’s the second of four daughters born to Fausto and Connie Peralta. He was a construction worker and she a cannery worker. They built a family with their four daughters: Valerie, Sandra, Kimberley, and Shelley. Raising four girls was a challenge for Fausto and Connie as each woman has her own distinct personality. Collectively, the Peralta girls made an impression at Silver Creek High School and proudly call San Jose State University their alma mater. A large photo of the sisters standing together, resplendent in college cap and gown under the shadow of the university’s ivy-covered Tower Hall, sits in the entryway of the Peralta house.
Valerie was born in Fresno, California, in 1961. She grew to be a strong-willed girl who did well in school, participated in the cheerleading squad in high school. The birth of Kimberley, the third Peralta daughter, came three years after Sandra in 1969. Like her older sisters, Kimberley did well in the classroom and participated in after-school activities such as the marching band. Kimberley has a nurturing and faithful character that seeks compromise and accommodation whenever possible. The youngest of the Peralta dynasty from Silver Creek High School is Shelley, born exactly ten years after Valerie on December 28, 1971. She is unassumingly intelligent yet boisterous and independent with a fiery spirit that can be witty in one instance and cynical the next. All four sisters are intensely loyal to their own individual families, each other, their parents, and extended family and friends.
Once Sandra and I started dating on a regular basis, I realized that acceptance into the family required developing a relationship with each sister on a one-on-one basis in addition to building trust with Sandra’s parents. Although this was a tall order for a young man mired in his failures and ambiguous future, my upbringing centered on respect and integrity, and my accommodating personality, not to mention my absolute adoration of Sandra, set the foundation for my relationship with the Peralta family.
Over the years, I also developed deep and strong relationships with the Peralta girls’ husbands. Valerie’s husband, Eddie Velez, and I became close as we were the “big brothers.” We sometimes worked construction jobs with Mr. Peralta to make extra money and often helped each other with household projects. When Kimberley and her husband, Miguel Rocha, were dating in college, she turned to me often for advice. Once I got to know Miguel, we soon learned that we shared the same intense ambition of achieving success at the highest level possible. Shelley’s husband, Pancho Leyva, and I have a passion for sports. During our younger days, we were a mischievous team when the beer started flowing.
I have a true affection for Eddie, Miguel, and Pancho. Together, we are about as close as any four brothers could be. Sandra’s parents, her three sisters, and my three compadres would play a major role in the events that unfolded in the summer of 2010.