Stories: Who We Have Lost
Story aboutAngielina Grass
Angielina and I never met in person. She lived in Vinita, OK, and I live in White Plains, NY. We met online on a beadwork forum nearly 20 years ago, and bonded over our love of beads and beading. She was Native American (part Choctaw, part Cherokee) and made the most gorgeous, traditional beadwork with a modern twist.
Later in our lives, when Facebook became a thing, we of course became friends on there as well. I really started to get to know more about her – her culture, her kindheartedness, her beautiful drawings, her love of her family, the love (bordering on obsession) of coffee we both shared. She had some health issues, diabetes being one of them. She had lost a lot of weight, though, and many of us were cheering her on. She’d been through a lot with her health. Toward the beginning of the pandemic, she had to have heart surgery (which, thankfully, went fine).
A bit later on during the pandemic, she got her “dream job” (as she called it) working at a local clinic. I was so happy for her. She’d gone to art school, but had wound up working at jobs that just didn’t suit her. She had a big heart and wanted to be helping others.
At some point, in January of 2021, she made her final Facebook post. It said something like, “I got the COVID. Pray for me.”
She passed away a few days later.
I did not find out what had happened for a few months – I knew that I had not been seeing her posts, but I wasn’t on Facebook much due to personal issues. I thought she’d probably been posting and I was just not seeing her posts. I finally realized that it had been quite a while, and I missed seeing her posts, so I went to her personal Facebook page…where I found out the horrible news.
Although she and I never met in person, I feel the loss as keenly as though we had. She was my beading friend, my fellow coffee enthusiast, always full of kind words and moral support and generosity. She had a beautiful soul and the world lost her too soon. I miss my friend terribly.
Story aboutLarry Wallen
I’m not sure where to begin. My dad was my best friend. We had an amazing father daughter relationship since I was born. He was always proud of me regardless of what I got myself into and I looked up to him. He always had an answer and knew how to do literally everything. One thing he never did was judge other people, no matter their circumstances. He always told me and his brothers “you never know what someone is going through.” I still try to live my life by that. My dad was very generous and was willing to help anyone in anyway that he could.
We spent Christmas 2020 together and sadly that was the last holiday we spent together.
January 2021 my dad and mom both tested positive for Covid. My mom had it first because she was considered an essential worker. Then a week later my dad started having symptoms. The day he called and told me my mom tested positive I told him to get a hotel room close to home so he wouldn’t get it but he refused to leave my mom- showing how much love he had for his family. My mom started getting better but my dad kept getting worse.
I remember calling him one evening before bed (I literally called this man 12 times a day lol) and he sounded different, I asked what was wrong and he said he was trying to find the bathroom and that alone shocked me. His fevers were so high he was getting disoriented in his own home. January 24th he was admitted to the hospital and his oxygen was at 73. From this day forward he was fighting for his life. He hoped so badly he was going to be there two weeks and then go home. He ended up in ICU because he started having heart trouble and that was the floor he had to be on in order to have the medicine administered. He spent his birthday in the hospital (February 5th) and I’m so thankful I was able to see him while he was there especially on his birthday. I brought him a photo of me and his Boston Terrier, Dewie. He said Dewie was a cute dog and I was a pretty girl. I remember asking him if he thought he was going to die and he said “I sure hope not”. Fast forward to February 7th. I called him like I did every morning and asked how he was doing, he said “Lisa I just can’t breath”… my heart sank into my stomach. I said well I’ll be there in an hour- so we said our I love you’s and hung up. I was in the shower for 10 minutes and my phone started ringing. By the time I got out I missed the FaceTime. I missed the last FaceTime I would ever get from him. I missed the last time I could have heard my dad say I love you. It haunts me everyday. They put him on a ventilator that day. I got there as soon as I could.
Things would start to improve and then take twenty steps back. He did eventually get a tracheotomy but that caused him to lose a lot of blood which lead to decreased blood thinner and then he had a stroke that made him fall into a coma. While this was all going on his kidneys were failing and I made sure he was put on dialysis. I made sure everything was done to give him a chance. At one point, before the stroke, he was very responsive and even woke up while on the ventilator. I remember the sadness in his eyes.
March 11th my mom & I had a meeting with his doctors because at this point, after the stroke, he was no longer making any progress. His kidney function stopped improving, his heart was in constant afib, and he showed zero signs of brain activity unlike before. He was on all machines and medicine for every function his body needed to do. The neurologist said since there was no brain activity his body was shutting down. I asked if he could wake up and she said yes but he wouldn’t have a quality life. I stood beside his bed and screamed, begging him not to leave me even though he already had. Apart of me wanted to be selfish and keep him here but he always made it clear that if he didn’t have his mind he didn’t want to be alive any longer. So March 12, 2021 I lost my dad, my best friend & my mom lost her husband of 47 years.
Story aboutLarry Wallen
My dad loved his family, really enjoyed camping, he loved his dogs (especially Dewie the Boston Terrier), old cars, fried chicken, & was a huge fan of chicken and dumplings from Cracker Barrel. It’s been 5 months and it still doesn’t seem real. I remember asking my dad (before Covid times) what was I supposed to do if something ever happened to him. He told me to keep on living my life, it would be hard but I had to do it. I have so much life ahead of me. We always talked about how he would live until he was 90 so he would be here for all of my big life moments. But because of Covid, he was only here for 68 years. He had so much life left to live and a will to live it. The day we let him go he went quickly and peacefully. The doctors and nurses reminded me that I did everything I possibly could for him.
I’m sure there’s a big reunion on the other side with family that had already passed away… oh and all of the dogs he outlived. I know he’s so happy to see all of them. My mom and I take it one day at a time. It’s an adjustment for both of us, she tells me I remind her of him on how I act, talk, and my facial expressions. It makes me happy because I hope I turn out to be half the person he was. I can honestly say I don’t have many regrets because we had such a great relationship and for that I will be forever thankful for and all of the memories we made together and as a family.
“I love and miss you so much daddy”
Story aboutManuel Juarez
My father, Manuel Juarez, arrived to the US from El Salvador in the 1970’s. He worked minimum wage jobs to help support our family. He needed his eldest and youngest daughter to translate for him. But that never stopped him from reaching his goals. He bought his first home in 2009. He became a naturalized citizen in 2019. He built a garden and loved to show off his fruits and vegetables.
His journey was not easy. His journey ended when he COVID took him away from his family on April 29, 2021. He is my father. He is a grandfather. He is a husband. He will always be in our hearts.
Story aboutMichael Polonus
My Dad died on April 7, 2020.
He entered the world with nothing and left with nothing but he left a lot behind in this world.
He was raised in Elmhurst, IL with his brother Dick. They were 2nd generation Americans with their family roots in Lithuania. His grandparents came to America during the potato famine and entered through Ellis Island, settling in the Chicago area.
My Dad did not have much when he was a child but he worked hard and paid his way through college -Bowling Green University – where he met his future wife, Linda Druley.
My father was a man of principles.
#1 – Work hard.
#2 – Never lie, cheat or steal. He was the most honest man you will ever know.
#3 – He was generous; boy was he ever.
He loved meeting people; he would talk to any one with genuine warmth and compassion.
He didn’t care who you were, if you were hard working and honest he would give you a chance and the shirt off his back.
He believed in education and paid for his children’s education; allowing us the gift of graduating debt free. He wanted us to be successful and pushed us to set a high standard of excellence.
He said that if you had an education and worked hard, that’s all you needed in life to succeed.
He made his children responsible from a very young age; chores and tasks were part of everyday life. We have that work ethic still today. My brother and I are two of the most responsible people I know. It’s funny how, even though my brother and I are very different people, we are also very much the same because of the values that my father instilled in us.
He believed in quality – buy quality and take care of things – they should last forever. Any person that purchased a used car from my Dad got the best used car money could buy; immaculate, all services performed, records kept – they were like new.
He loved his grandchildren and wanted to share his success with them. He supported their education and traveled with each of them as they came of age.
He allowed me the opportunity to travel the world with him also. We had so much fun on our trips. That is such a special gift that he gave to me.
I have his hair, I have his teeth, I have his eyes and as I age, I look in the mirror and I have his face. I have so many qualities of his that I have both loved and cursed, but now that he is gone, they are all beautifully special to me.
I am my father’s daughter and for that I will forever be proud and humbled.