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Southern Arizona families remember loved ones lost to COVID-19

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TUCSON (KVOA) - We have lost so many lives to COVID-19 in southern Arizona. At News 4 Tucson, we are on a mission to make sure they aren’t forgotten. 

"She was an immigrant," Lina Armijo, who lost her mother, Natalia to COVID-19 said. "She met my dad, and they were married when she was 19 years old."

She said her parents met in the U.S. and were married for 10 years when her father, a veteran and U.S. Postal worker was killed in a car accident in 1963.  Her mother, Natalia had to raise Lina and her siblings as a single mother on her husband's $300 per month pension. 

For her and her brothers, Lina said their mother, Natalia, was "always supportive, always encouraging to get an education, to do better, better, better..."

Armijo said her mother always had words of wisdom to share to her children.

"In Spanish, she would tell me, 'quiero que seas fuerte'," she said. "To be tough."

Words that came in handy when Lina herself faced divorce and had to raise her own kids, with her mother's help.  

Armijo said Natalia also had lots of love for her grand and great-grandchildren. 

She said her mother had been in a care facility for 11 years when the pandemic hit. Armijo said Natalia and her entire unit tested positive. 

She said Natalia passed away in July, alone with no family at her bedside. 

"All I wish for is just one more day, all I wish for is just a goodbye,” Armijo said. 

"She was always bubbly, always laughing. Seemed very carefree,” Alison Frye, who lost her sister-in-law to COVID-19 said. 

Her sister-in-law, Salome Frye was a nurse. 

She said they hadn't seen much of her since Salome's husband passed away, except for Christmas of 2019. She said then Salome's niece from out of state let Frye know that Salome was in the hospital for two weeks by then. 

"... And they said she wasn't responsive," she said. "It was pretty much a waiting game by that point."

 She said Salome passed on April 27. She was cremated. 

Her cat, Kasey was taken in by a program to then be placed in a loving home. But because of the travel restrictions Salome's family faced, Frye has since held on to her ashes. 

She said to be kind to others, and regarding those who've passed "their bodies are gone but it doesn't mean that their memories have to be gone.”

We aren’t done honoring those who’ve lost their lives here in Tucson.

You can still share your stories of a lost friend or loved one, just click here to add to our virtual memorial.  

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Alexis Berdine

Alexis Berdine is an Investigative Multi-Media Journalist at KVOA.

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