As cases increase and holidays approach, the number of lives killed by the coronavirus continues to grow.
The Delgado family began to worry about Sandra and Fred Delgado after the couple was admitted to Abrazo Arrowhead after a positive test for the virus.
The couple, married for 46 years, were known for their kind spirit and infectious smiles.
“They loved each other and couldn’t be without each other,” said their son, Richard Delgado, who lives in Indianapolis.
“You knew my father without knowing him and my mother without knowing her,” added Freddy Delgado, Fred and Sandra’s eldest son. “They greeted everyone with a smile.”
His battle was short, however. Sandra passed away on December 7th. Ten days later, his mother-in-law, Lidia Delgado, died in another hospital. On December 20, Fred Delgado Sr. took his last breath.
“It’s been a nightmare, it feels like a nightmare that we can’t wake up from,” added Jennifer Grady, Fred and Sandra’s only daughter.
“It’s a shock, it’s pain, it’s sadness, it’s really unthinkable,” said Freddy. “They didn’t live in fear, they didn’t live in a bubble. Still, they would take precautions; they took a calculated risk and, unfortunately, this virus was devastating for them and our family ”.
The couple was well regarded throughout the Valley. Fred was a well-known football coach in Phoenix since the 1980s.
“Phoenix is a huge city,” said Freddy. “The football community growing, it was a small community. It is still like that, and I know that there are a lot of people that he played that will be devastated ”.
Freddy remembers his dad getting calls from kids he trained asking when they could go out and practice again. Most games and training were canceled due to the spread of COVID-19 earlier this year. Delgado and his wife even delivered meals to the families of the children he trained and constantly checked to see how they were overcoming the pandemic.
“It wasn’t about the X’s and O’s, the technique or any of those things,” said Freddy. “It was more about the relationships he built with people. The confidence he gave these boys and girls, men and women. This is what it was like to be a coach for him and this is something that, as a coach in my own profession , I hope one day I can fulfill.
Their loss, affecting the whole family. The three children and grandchildren remember how much the Delgado loved to celebrate Christmas.
“My father loved that he dressed as Santa Claus. He did silly dances, he embarrassed people, ”said Richard. “This is definitely one of the memories I cherish.”
“I’ll make sure they know every memory they had of each other and every moment that happened to them,” said Emma Grady, 11, of her younger brother and sister who had only known their grandparents for a little while in their lives.
The Delgado family says they have not planned a funeral at this time, but hope to have one in 2021, if it is safe to bring the family together to pay tribute.
Still, they hope their pain and sadness will send a message to those who may be getting tired of taking safety precautions as we approach a new year, proving that COVID-19 is still having significant impacts on families across the country.
“We don’t understand why some people struggle and overcome and others don’t,” said Grady. “We just don’t understand and until we do, we will be more careful with each other.”