My mother Aida Chavez was a humble, kind-hearted soul and an absolute joy to be around. She was well-loved by her family, church community, and co-workers and left a lasting impression on any life she touched.

Her Catholic faith was important to Aida. I remember joining her and my father, Richard, for services and choir practices at Sacred Heart Catholic Church in Floresville – and later St. Margaret Mary Catholic Church in San Antonio.

Aida worked at Mission Trail Baptist Hospital for many years, with many more years working as a unit coordinator for hospitals in San Antonio. At the start of COVID-19, she was the person at the front door of the hospital floor where she worked taking temperatures to allow access. She was a front-line worker, helping the doctors and nurses who helped everyone else. 

I received a call in mid-November informing me that both of my parents had contracted COVID-19 and that my mom had been taken to the emergency room. They had been experiencing what they thought were allergies for a few days before Aida started having trouble breathing. Even though he was sick himself, my father rushed his wife to the hospital, not knowing that that moment would be the last time he ever saw her or talked to her face-to-face – and the last time he told her he loved her in person.

The Northeast Baptist Hospital COVID-19 medical staff fought hard to keep their co-worker alive. Aida’s last nurse was even someone she worked with at Mission Trail Baptist years before. The staff did all they could, but the COVID-19 pneumonia turned Aida’s lungs from the texture of tissue paper to sandpaper within two weeks. 

Aida Chavez with her daughter, Rebecca, 2015. Credit: Courtesy / Rebecca Chavez

I was the last person to get a chance to talk to Aida before they intubated her. We were able to say “I love you” in our special mom-daughter way, hopeful that Aida would pull through. It was the last thing Aida said to a family member.

Aida’s family was able to video call her twice while she was sedated. Her family prayed, sang, and shared with Aida how much they loved her and asked her to keep fighting. When Aida’s health took a turn for the worse, doctors allowed my father and me one last opportunity to talk to her. Within 15 minutes of that goodbye call, Aida left to heaven to become an angel.

In honor of Aida, her family has created a website to honor her and collect contributions to cover medical and funeral costs.