GLENDALE, Ariz. - Nine children are in mourning Thursday night after their father suddenly died from a stroke less than two years after they lost their mother.
Raul Acosta Mondragon, the oldest of the nine, is growing up fast, trying to take care of his brothers and sisters.
“There’s been a lot of tragedies going on in my family,” he said, reflecting back about a year and a half ago. That’s when doctors took his mom off life support.
“These are her ashes under the flowers here,” he said, pointing to an urn sitting on a table in the dining room.
The 21-year-old’s mom Perla passed away after getting a headache, then undergoing an exploratory surgery.
“My dad was consistently buying my mom flowers all the time,” Mondragon said.
Now, another devastating loss. Their father Mario Duarte Hernandez recently suffered a stroke.
“It was actually on Mother’s Day that he ended up passing away," Mondragon said. "The next day we ended up having to unplug him and I had to break the news to the kiddos.”
Telling his three sisters and five brothers what had happened was tough.
“I was just at a loss for words,” he said.
The youngest is just 3 years old.
“She gave him a kiss and said ‘Papi sleep now’ and it was heartbreaking,” he said.
Acosta Mondragon says his dad even told him before his passing that he didn’t know how long he was going to be around.
“He wanted to make sure that I could take care of the kids,” he said. “I plan on taking care of them, that’s for sure … It’s going to be tough, but I’m going to do it.”
Raul plans to go to court and take full guardianship of the kids.
“My parents are gone, but like, anytime I want to see my parents, I have them," he said. "I still feel their love through them,” he said.
He works at Jack in the Box and for his uncle, who’s a personal contractor, but their family is going to need help with memorial expenses and for the kids going forward. If you would like to help, you can visit their GoFundMe page.