'She assures the way'
Now Margarita and Salvador live on Spyglass Hill, with most relatives within a five-minute drive. Salvador makes weekly visits to the farmers market, where he's well-known among vendors, and buys Margarita orchids. Few counters and tables around the home are without one.
Mondays at the Avila home are chicken soup day, and there's an "open door policy" where family members can wander in at anytime for meals or just to visit. The door to the family home is always open.
Although they have been away from Mexico for 53 years, daily life for the Avilas is steeped in tradition.
Each day, a large meal is served at 9 a.m. and then again at 3 p.m., following a Mexican routine. Christmas cooking with the tías (aunts), who are scattered throughout Southern California, is an annual occurrence, according to Maria Elena.
Margarita is known for her deep love and has a reputation among the family as a sas¿n — someone with that special touch for making wonderful dishes. Salvador is known for his strength, work ethic and determination, Maria Elena said.
The two have had many close calls where family members worried that they wouldn't see 65 years together.
When asked their secret to a happy marriage, Salvador replied without a moment's hesitation: "La mujer!" The woman. "She assures the way," he said.
Margarita's answer was a bit different: "Patience. A lot of work. It's not easy."
She said the other key to their success was "a lot of affection toward the other person."