The call ended with Blanca telling her husband she would see him later.
The 67-year-olds from San Diego, who became an official couple in high school, died just hours apart following the call, their family said. Covid-19 took Blanca first and about three hours later, her soulmate Juan joined her, also on February 8.
Now their four children are left to do the unthinkable: Bury both of their parents following a joint funeral and visitation on Wednesday.
They are having to cope with the loss of their parent’s legendary love, their vanished presence in everyday conversations and with the finality of a funeral at a time when the world is upside down.
They fell in love in high school
Ever since they met in middle school as seventh-graders in homeroom, there was an instant bond. Juan flirted with Blanca and Blanca talked about his big green eyes. Each of them immigrated from Mexico as children before they met at a San Diego middle school.
“When she would turn around and look at him, he would wink at her. She remembered that he had these green eyes,” daughter Anna Cabral said. “I guess around that time he started telling her and his friends that he was going to marry her one day.”
The pair was just 11 和 12 years old and before there were butterflies, they were just schoolchildren. They got back together as high school juniors, but Blanca maintained she wasn’t that interested in Juan and they broke up.
Juan was at the sweethearts dance with another date during their senior year, when Blanca told him she wanted him back.
“It wasn’t until she was a senior when she saw him with someone else at a dance and she went up to him and told them, '哦, you’re going to be my boyfriend now,'” Blanca Velazquez said. “And my dad said, ‘OK.’ They were together ever since.”
The couple was together for about 50 年份, their children said in a phone call, all four of them jumping in to share stories about their parents.
They eloped in 1972 and were married for 48 年份, their children said.
“When she would walk in, his face would light up like it was the first time, like she was the most beautiful thing in a world,” daughter Cynthia Rodriguez said. “His whole face with this glow. It was so weird.”
Their son, Juan Manuel Rodriguez Jr., remembered their love story in a simple, elegant way.
“I really do think my mom and dad had one soul. It wasn’t two souls — it was one,” 他说.
They worked hard, but they put their family first
Blanca Rodriguez stayed at home with her children for years before she went back to school as an adult, even taking classes with her children at a community college.
Blanca worked as a social worker for San Diego County for a few years and some of that time was spent working alongside Blanca, who is named after her. The mother later became an investigator with the US Department of Transportation — she was a special agent, her children said.
“She went from being my mom, who was always home with us to my mom, who was doing inspections on these massive companies and dealing with all these people,” Anna Cabral said. “And she did it with grace. My mom to us was like a princess.”
Their father was one of the “hardest workers” they had ever seen, Juan Jr. said of his father, whom he was named after. He was a residential supervisor for the workers and teenagers who lived in the dorms at the San Diego Job Corps.
“He would actually go to work at the San Diego Job Corps hours early before his shift and would stay after hours,” Juan Jr. 说过. “There were some days that he would go to work and he wasn’t even scheduled to work.”
Outside of work, the parents each had their own passions. Blanca loved cooking, animals and tending to her rose garden on the side of the house.
Music and sports fueled Juan’s heart, beside his family. He loved The Beatles and mariachi music. But it was sports and coaching youth baseball and youth soccer that he loved most.
从 1990 至 1997, he coached soccer, often inviting players into their home, 一家人说.
“We had boys on the soccer team that didn’t have very good families and they were always welcomed in our home,” Anna Cabral said. “They would come over and we didn’t have much either growing up, so my parents would make sure everyone ate, and they’d make sure everyone had somewhere to sleep.”
Some of those soccer players will be among the pallbearers at his funeral on Wednesday, 一家人说.
“A lot of them started crying because they said that we didn’t even have to ask, that they would have done anything for him,” Blanca Velazquez said.
“My parents made sure that we were a very united family,” Anna Cabral said.
“I feel so much better just being around my siblings and talking to them. It’s like they each have a piece of my parents. You put us all together and it’s almost whole but it’s not.”
Despite making a pact not to cry, the siblings gave in to the emotions and acknowledged the tragedy of what happened last week.
“It’s OK to cry,” Juan Manuel Rodriguez Jr. 说过. “We lost parents three hours apart. It’s just not supposed to happen that way.”
Now the family is looking for their parents’ souls to be laid to rest together so they can be at peace.
The family doesn’t know how they got Covid-19
The Rodriguez family had been isolating for a year and they don’t know how coronavirus crept into the house.
Cynthia Rodriguez and Blanca Velazquez, plus her husband and two kids, lived full time with their parents.
They did their best to protect their parents from the virus. No matter, all seven in the house got Covid-19, 一家人说.
“We were quarantining since February of last year,” Cynthia Rodriguez said. “My brother-in-law was the only one leaving the house as an essential employee.”
Blanca Velazquez’s husband works in construction. He would wear a mask at work, shower when he got home and change his clothes, 妻子说.
The sisters, Velazquez’s two children and Blanca Rodriguez all tested positive on January 18.
The family isolated their father, Juan, in his own room. He was mostly bedbound, suffering from diabetes, kidney issues, congestive heart failure and a bad bone break that never healed right.
Their mother had diabetes and arthritis, but was the healthier of the two.
Their parents got so sick that they had to be hospitalized on January 26. Cynthia Rodriguez remembers her mother asking her to call for an ambulance.
“I had to dress my dad because he was falling over because he was so sick and I walked him out,” Cynthia Rodriguez said, asking her nephew to help. Her father had a fever and paramedics said his oxygen saturation was in the 80s.
Going back in the house, she struggled longer to walk her mom out to the next ambulance, again with her nephew’s help.
“And I just was in shock,” 她说. “I was just outside looking at the ambulances leaving. And I was thinking like, is this real?”
They died three hours apart
Only a few hours after the family’s video call, Blanca’s condition deteriorated. The family said doctors called to say they had to intubate her and asked the family to come to the hospital.
The siblings walked in to see their mother in pairs. Doctors asked them to consider comfort care, which the family did.
Blanca Rodriguez passed away at 12:34 上午. 在二月 8.
In another hospital, it was like Juan knew his soulmate was gone. Hours later, the family got another call, this time from his medical team.
Cynthia Rodriguez and Blanca Velazquez rushed to the hospital. As they were asking the hospital staff about their father’s condition, he passed away as they were in the hallway at 4:18 上午.
A nurse hugged Blanca Velazquez. She hesitated before making an observation, which the sisters asked to hear.
“‘Your dad started crashing around 12:30,'” the nurse told them. “When I looked in the system, and I saw that your mom passed around that time, I just couldn’t believe it.”
The sisters were not surprised. They were somewhat relieved that their parents were together.
“I told my siblings I’m 100% sure my dad wasn’t alone when he passed because my mom was there with him,” Blanca Velazquez said. “For him, that was everything. It was a little bit of a comfort for us that they were together.”
“Our parents’ love was legendary and extraordinary in life, but it was also extraordinary in death,” 她说. “They were lovebirds. They were always together, 拥抱, holding hands.”
They were so close to getting vaccinated
A week after their parents passed, a letter came from their health care provider inviting Blanca and Juan to sign up for vaccination appointments, 一家人说.
“My parents were terrified of getting Covid and dying of Covid,” Cynthia Rodriguez said. “My dad wouldn’t even let you touch him because he was terrified of getting it. They were so eager to get vaccinated, they were waiting for it.”
The family said they did everything they could to protect their mother and father.
The siblings are eagerly awaiting the chance to get vaccinated and they hope that other people do, 太. They say it’s the only thing that will stop this pandemic.
“If we could just help one person not lose their parents, 我的意思是, we can make something positive out of this situation,” Cynthia Rodriguez said. “That’s all we want, for people to realize that the people that are dying are real people with real family. They’re not just numbers, they’re people with lives.”