“Having a place to go—is a home. Having someone to love—is a family. Having both—is a blessing.”
Families are like fingerprints: everyone has one, but each are unique. Some are small, while others are large. Some are full of warmth and laughter, while others are others are more reserved and formal. Some are with you from birth, while others develop along the way. Families are special and make us who we are, inside and out. One particular family included a bright, wonderful woman who was not only impacted by her family, but she also affected her family in each of her smiles, her jokes, her rooster calls, and love. Laura Denise Ontiveros, known to everyone as just “Denise” or “Tweeter,” loved those around her with all she had in her golden, beautiful heart. Her life and her love meant the world to all those that were blessed to know her.
On Friday, January 4, 1974 in Dallas, Texas, a warm, joyful little baby was born to Larry and Eleanor “Nora” Ontiveros. Unlike most people who come into the world alone, Denise started life from the beginning with her twin sister, DeeAnn. Denise was one of four sisters in their bustling family. She always played with DeeAnn, Jennifer and Jessica as a little girl, and grew closer and closer with her sisters as she grew into a vibrant woman. Denise and her sisters were close friends who also developed with their three other friends, Melisa, Adrienne, and Melissa. Together the ladies formed seven, devoted friends who embraced their friendship with matching star tattoos with seven attached stars, each star symbolizing a friend. Like the stars on their tattoo, the friends were firmly attached to each other. Everyone in the family was close and special to the other. However, unlike most families, the Ontiveros family stayed closer than your average family. “It’s all about the quality of life and finding a happy balance between work and friends and family,” a British businessman once stated. Denise and her family worked at and owned Herrera’s Café in Dallas, Texas on Sylvan Avenue. Customers and patrons loved working with Denise as she received their orders and gave them in return their delicious food with her even sweeter and delectable personality. She worked side by side with her family and made those who walked into their restaurant feel like family. Denise had such a big heart, and her smile made everyone instantly happier. Denise and her family didn’t just spend time at work though. Each Tuesday, the family would come together and have family night. One of the games Denise and her family would play was Loteria, or Mexican Bingo. Stories, jokes, and laughter were shared across the table as the family played well into the night. While many figures and icons were called during the game, everyone look forward to el gallo being played. As soon as el gallo, or the rooster, was called, Denise would give her best rooster crow. It was a small, yet greatly significant action that made family game night special. As American actress Candace Cameron Bure claimed, “The memories we make with our family is everything.” Denise made so many memories with her family through work, but also just being a family. Family to Denise was everything.
As South African cleric, Desmond Tutu, stated, “You don’t choose your family. They are God’s gift to you, as you are to them.” Denise’s greatest gift was bringing her daughters into the world and into her wonderful family. Her daughters Brittany, Bryana, and Bianca loved their mother so much, just as she loved them. She often took her daughters to Six Flags where they would have fun riding the roller coasters, playing games, and just having a good time. If they were lucky, they even might see Tweety Bird, who “Tweeter” was named after. Denise also liked to go to various other places like San Antonio, Las Vegas, and Disney. She loved to go traveling with her family, whether it was her parents, her sisters, her friends, her daughters, or her beloved fiancé, Chito Sanchez. If she couldn’t travel to Las Vegas or San Antonio, Denise made do traveling to Oklahoma to try her luck at Winstar World Casino. At Winstar, Denise enjoyed playing on the slot machines and at roulette tables. Whether she won or lost, she made her memories with those she was with at her side. Another passion of Denise’s was the Dallas Cowboys. She loved rooting for “America’s Team” with her friends and family. Denise proudly wore her Dallas Cowboy’s jersey whenever she could. Occasionally while she would cheer on the Cowboys from her own home, her pet chihuahuas, Snickers, Bella, Princess, and Cloe, would sit around her. Although Desmond Tutu claims that “you don’t choose your family,” Denise choose Chito Sanchez to be a part of her family and her life. Chito and Denise were with each other for 15 years and planned to get married in January of 2019. Chito meant so much to Denise, and she loved him very much. Denise had recently became a grandma to her beautiful granddaughter Ava Michelle, she was so excited to share this journey with her twin DeeAnn, who also had just became a grandma. Denise spent all the time that she could with little Ava, talking to her and playing with her, so much that Ava recognized her grandma’s voice from afar. Denise truly loved all of her family from her little pets, to her daughters, to Chito, to her sisters, to her friends, to her parents, to her customers, to all of her fans, so very much.
Playwright Bernard Shaw stated, “A happy family is but an earlier heaven.” If that were the case, Denise and her family experienced a heaven for many, many years prior to her departure to her eternal heaven. To the sorrow and grief of her family and close friends, Denise passed away on Wednesday, November 28, 2018 in Dallas, Texas. She endured a long battle against cancer with her family and friends standing alongside her every step of the way. As a Burmese proverb states, “In time of test, family is best,” and Denise’s family was her best and biggest support during her struggles. Family meant the world to Denise, but her faith also kept her spirits high. She prayed often to St. Jude, St. Peregrine, and St. Elizabeth, her patron Saint. With her faith and family in her heart, Denise went from her heaven on earth to her heaven with God.
Denise Ontiveros is survived by her daughters, Brittany Ontiveros, Bryana Ontiveros, and Bianca Garcia; her granddaughter, Ava Michelle Washington; her parents, Larry Ontiveros and Eleanor Tijerina; her sisters, DeeAnn Ontiveros, Jennifer Ontiveros, and Jessica Villasenor; the love of her life, Chito Sanchez; her friends, Melisa, Adrienne, and Melissa; and many loyal customers, friends, and relatives.
“Even though I couldn’t stay,
I’ll still be with you every day.
Your sister and twin I’ll always be
For I am you and you are me.”