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Florinda Flores, COVID-19 Victim, Never Held Back Her Love Or Food

NOEL KING, HOST:

We continue to remember some of the nearly 400,000 people we've lost to coronavirus in the U.S. We want to tell you about Florinda Flores from Roswell, N.M.

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

Her family says 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.

KING: The neighborhood kids would knock on her door when they wanted cookies. Florinda also had grandkids, great-grandkids and great-great-grandkids. And whenever Chencho talked to her, she'd repeat the same goodbye.

C FLORES: She would always say, son - she always called me son, even though it's 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.

INSKEEP: Florinda had been careful about the virus, but a friend visited before Thanksgiving. And both ended up in the hospital. On December 13, Chencho saw her 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")

KING: Chencho Flores remembering his grandma Florinda Flores. She was 85.

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