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COVID-19 victim, Florinda Flores, never held back her love or food

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

Well, the United States has lost 800,000 people to COVID-19 - 800,000 human beings. And they include Florinda Flores. We first brought you her story nearly a year ago. She was from Roswell, N.M.

RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

Her grandson Chencho Flores told us she never held back her love or her food.

CHENCHO FLORES: You always knew when you were going to go to her house that you were going to have her famous enchiladas. And for me - because, you know, I was a little special - she would make me my own little pumpkin pie.

MARTIN: He said each time they talked, she'd repeat this same goodbye.

C FLORES: She would always say, son - she always called me son, even though I was her grandson. She'd say, son, just remember, if I don't see you again, I'll see you in heaven. Then she would bust out laughing.

MARTIN: On December 13 of 2020, they said goodbye to one another for the last time.

C FLORES: So the morning that she passed away, the doctor called my sister and said, hey, your grandmother wants us to take everything off. She doesn't want to do this anymore. So my sister rushed to the hospital. And they actually let her in. They suited her up, let her in. And she put me on FaceTime with my grandma. And I said, hi, Grandma. And she just - big smile on her face - she waved, and she said, I'm dying. There was no sadness - none of that - just, I'm dying. And, of course, my first thought was saying, no, no, you're going to be fine. You're going to get - you're going to beat this. But I didn't. I actually, you know, made myself stop. And I just said, I love you. We'll see you again. We'll see you in heaven.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

FLORINDA FLORES: Merry Christmas. Hi, mijo. This is your grandma. Just thought I'd call to see how you were doing, OK? Love you, jito (ph). Bye-bye.

C FLORES: Especially growing up, Christmas was always at her house. And it was always a packed place. But the last time we got together fully as a whole family was probably about six years ago. You know, she loved every minute of it. You know, she just wanted everybody to just be together and be happy. That was just what she loved.

(SOUNDBITE OF OTTO A. TOTLAND'S "SOLER")

INSKEEP: Chencho Flores recalling his grandma, Florinda Flores, who died of COVID at the age of 85.

(SOUNDBITE OF OTTO A. TOTLAND'S "SOLER") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.