Thelma and Candido married and took up residence on 135th Street and Broadway as Candido expanded her electronics business. Anyone who saw them knew how much they loved each other.
“They were a great couple,” said Jose Estevez. “They were affectionate, optimistic, always in a good mood. My wife and I aspire to be them.
Estevez said it was an idyllic life, filled with love and music.
“My mother loved music a lot,” he says. “And dad too. Mom loved to sing and listen to music. My father loved listening to classical music. I learned to play the piano from the music dad played.
He remembers the trips to Rye Playland and Disney World, but the most precious moments were spent in his father’s store.
“My father was an entrepreneur,” he says. “He had his business and my mom always went to the store to help him. When I was 16 or 17, I would go to the store with them and spend the day with my parents.
Her mother turned the work into a lesson, of sorts.
“My mother sorted the tapes and CDs,” he says. “She would listen to the music with me and say, ‘He’s the last artist, let’s hear him together’. These are very lively moments for me ”.
Thelma and Candido were eagerly awaiting their first grandson, but, unfortunately, Candido died before Ethan was born nine years ago.
“My mother was so happy when Ethan was born,” said Jose Estevez. “Her smile was so bright. He was born a day after his birthday. When she first held it, her smile was amazing. She absolutely adored him. . ”
But Jose and his wife, Alexandra, began to see that something was wrong with Thelma. She was diagnosed with dementia, which quickly developed into Alzheimer’s. She was only in her late sixties.
Estevez lived in New Jersey, but drove into town almost every day to see her mother, to make sure she had food, that she was feeling well, to make sure her caregiver was there. home looked after her.
“I was his only child,” he says.
But his Alzheimer’s disease was progressing. She was having balance issues, and when she fell, Jose Estevez knew it was time to put her mother in an assisted living facility.
“It got to a point where it was so much on me, physically,” he says. “It was wreaking havoc on my family.”
Thelma was admitted to the Isabella Geriatric Center in Upper Manhattan, where COVID has taken its toll. Nearly 100 patients died there from the coronavirus.
“She was there for two years, and she was in a good position,” he said. “I visited several times a week, and my wife and son spent time there with her.”
But when the virus was on its way, he was told that no one would be allowed to visit anymore.
“I went to see her the day before the closing,” he said. “I spent time by her bedside and discussed whatever she wanted to discuss in her state of mind. I was very concerned about the impact it would have on her and other people in nursing homes. With the workers traveling to and from their homes, I knew it would be a vulnerable place. I thought it might happen. I hoped not.
A month later, he got the call he dreaded: his mother had developed a fever.
“It took a week to lose her,” he says. “On Monday she was a little confused. On Friday they said she didn’t look good and was not responding. I would know she was okay because when she saw my face she would say “mijo”, my son. But when we got FaceTimed the following Monday, she wasn’t able to respond.
Thelma Estevez died of the coronavirus on April 13. His son said he will miss the mom who was also his best friend.
“Mom would always take my side,” he said. “If I didn’t want to eat something, dad always said, you have to.” My mother used to say: “I’m fine”. ”
Jose Estevez hopes his mother will be remembered not because she was one of the tens of thousands who have lost their lives to the coronavirus, but because of who she was in life.
“I would love for people to remember her and know how loving she was, how kind she was,” he said. “She was very religious, always thinking of the less fortunate. She taught me that there are a lot of people in the world who don’t have what we do and when we can share what we have, we should. He was someone you wanna be with. She was joy. She was giving. “