“He loved to get his family together,” Ms. Flores said. “And that’s what took him.”
My family’s encounter with the virus started in the last week of June, when my 17-year-old nephew, who mistook his virus symptoms for strep, joined my 66-year-old mother, 69-year-old father, two sisters and a brother-in-law on a medical road trip to Houston, where my mother had scheduled a mammogram.
¿Hablas español? To read more of our stories in Spanish, subscribe to our newsletter El Times.
On their way back to the Valley, they visited relatives in Galveston. After Father’s Day, about a dozen relatives who had met one another during the trip began describing debilitating headaches, body chills, fever and trouble breathing, all classic Covid-19 symptoms.
The Contreras family was in a similar situation. They gathered for their festive pachanga on June 1, dancing to mariachi music, sharing family stories and savoring classic Mexican barbecue.
“Because they kept it small, they thought they were doing the right thing,” said Ms. Flores, who stayed home because she worried about the virus.
It only took a few days for Mr. Contreras to develop a severe respiratory illness. Two of his sons soon joined him in the hospital with difficulty breathing. Soon uncles, aunts and cousins also fell ill.
Ms. Flores told me that when she heard her grandfather’s brain was bleeding, she rushed to the hospital and found him unconscious and connected to several tubes.
“Your güera is here,” she whispered, using the nickname he had given her as a child, alluding to her light complexion.