Teacher Nancy Arreaga was devastated by the death of her father. Today he has the strength to appreciate his teachings.
Flia Arteaga / Courtesy
With a fatal marker of more than 24,000 deaths In the Big Apple due to a pandemic that raged with great force in neighborhoods with a Hispanic majority, it is not difficult to infer that this Thursday, Thanksgiving, hundreds of families will have three emotions intertwined in the heat of the most important holiday in the country: gratitude, fear and mourning.
Such is the testimony of the teacher of Mexican origin Nancy Arreaga, 45, a resident of Bulls Head, Staten Island, who will see for the first time an empty seat at the table where for decades he shared the traditional ‘Thankgiving’ dinner with his father Mariano Arriaga, an immigrant from Puebla who forged his family in New York, and who on April 27 lost the battle against the coronavirus.
“It is the first time that my father will not be with me on this date. TO he liked to celebrate Thanksgiving since he lived in Mexico. He came very young. She always instilled in our family the immense value that gratitude has ”, the educator narrated moved.
The Arreaga family faced very hard times since COVID-19 began to spread in New York City.
The Lord Mariano Arreaga was 70 years old and eager to live to continue watching his family grow. He fought for three agonizing weeks between hospitals in New Jersey and New York, at a time when the same Health authorities tried to understand how to deal with the pandemic.
“It was all very unexpected. I witnessed how the hospitals were crowded with people. There was no capacity to serve all of them. Patients waited dying in chairs. That memory drives me to take extreme measures of protection, because I have four small children”Nancy said.
“Much to be thankful for”
The painful gusts of the pandemic he almost took the life of the husband too de Nancy, who presented severe pulmonary symptoms, simultaneously when her father faced the virus in intensive care at the hospital.
“Those were desperate days. Today the memory of my dad is my support. And this Thanksgiving despite adversity. Despite the loss. Despite the absence. I do have a lot to thank life for, for my family, for my children and especially for having had a father who transmitted great lessons to me, “said Nancy.
After six months trying to assimilate the accurate blow that the virus witnessed her entire existence, this feisty teacher who is also an activist for the rights of workers and immigrants in Staten Island, a county where the infection rate began to soar last week, comment that the ‘Turkey dinner’ this year will have a “more intimate” meaning.
“It is time to take care of our loved ones. We will continue with this great tradition, but above all to thank and thank, as my father instilled in us. We will remember. We will miss him at the table. But with very few people. I can attest that this pandemic is not a game and it can cause a lot of pain, “he said.
Thank you! I survived COVID-19
Where was the ‘Epicenter of the epicenter” ’ of the pandemic in the Corona neighborhood in Queens, mourning also knocked on the doors of hundreds of families in that neighborhood, where more than 52% of its residents are Latin American immigrants. One of them was construction worker Manuel Pazminio, 55, who lost his partner with whom he barely shared two years of living together.
Manuel tells that he led his 42 year old girlfriend to be treated for a fever and respiratory failure at the Elmursht Hospital in Queens when it was like a kind of war scene in early May. On the third day he passed away.
“This virus does not forgive age. This Thanksgiving day I am going to live it with a very strong feeling of gratitude because I survived the virus, being older than her. My two children in my first family still need me. But I also feel a very big emptiness because I was just trying to rebuild my life, ”the immigrant confessed.
The construction employee assures that he has always admired the tradition around turkey in this country and for 15 years he has followed it as a “Ritual” to remember one of the most important feelings that human beings can express.
“With this pandemic, everything changed in New York and in the world. But as immigrants we have had a very bad time, still we have a lot to thank this country for.”, He concluded.
Two key dates:
- 1863 – It was the year in which the celebration of Thanksgiving was made official, under the presidency of Abraham Lincoln, who officially declared the last Thursday of November as a holiday.
- 1918 – It was the last year that a pandemic significantly affected the celebration of Thanksgiving in the country, it was the influenza virus that caused the death of 675,000 Americans, according to the Center for Control and Disease Prevention (CDC).