My family is no different than yours. We have taken the precautions to make sure that we help prevent the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19). But as much as we tried to avoid the virus from affecting us, we were not immune.
My family became another one of the many around the world affected by COVID-19 when my father was diagnosed with COVID-19 and admitted into the hospital.
My 58-year-old father, Gabriel Cantu Sr., had been out of work for almost a year due to health issues and a work-related accident. Everywhere he went he wore a face mask, practiced social distancing and other CDC guidelines to protect himself and his family.
During the pandemic, he was able to head back to work in the oilfield, something he's done since he was a teenager.
He went to work. That's it, just work.
He was doing what the head of the household does to provide for his family.
Yes, he had underlying health issues, but he had bills to pay and children to support. While he and my mother provided for me and my two siblings, they took on the task to raise four of their grandchildren.
So off my father went.
Then one day he told my mom that he wasn't feeling well and came home. With COVID-19 affecting so many people, he began a quarantine the moment he walked through the front door as a precaution. No one was allowed into his room and the only time he left was when he needed to go to the emergency room.
For days he had problems breathing. Then he got a fever. One evening he went into the emergency room. It’s been two weeks and he still isn’t home.
Our friends and family have joined us in prayers for his health and speedy recovery.
Not being able to see him at the hospital, my mom, my siblings, other family members and I stayed in contact with him for a while through phone calls and text messages. Those calls soon stopped. Every time he spoke, he lost his breath. He couldn't stand without help.
Nurses told my mom that he was a stubborn man and refused to stay in bed.
We were still able to communicate using text messages, but after a while that stopped too. He was moved to the intensive care unit because his oxygen level was unstable and he needed more supervision.
I held all my feelings in because I have kids that are constantly watching. My children, like all my father's 10 grandchildren, look up to him. They have become closer to him as they have grown older. They know that their grandfather would do anything and everything that he needed to do for them.
Anyone who knows my father knows that he has worked hard for what he has. He married my mom nearly 38 years ago and they enjoy everything a long marriage has to offer.
He is the kind of man that helps everyone even if he is down to his last penny. It doesn't matter how far he must travel to help and make another person's life better. You don’t have to be related to him to know that he'd answer a call for help, exhausted or not.
But because of this pandemic, this man is in the hospital away from his family.
Everyday my mom talks to nurses about his condition. One day, we heard what no one wanted to hear. He was being transferred to another hospital and placed on a ventilator.
He is one of the strongest men I know. He’s a man who has worked hard and remembers where he came from. As I sit here writing this, I can't help wiping away tears from my cheeks.
I'm talking about a man who I've never seen cry. A man that has stood by his family during hard times. A man who will work from sun up to sun down for his family and friends. A man that will sit with you and listen to your troubles without judgment.
This man is laying in a hospital bed without his family nearby.
While the doctors have given us some good news, the fact that COVID-19 has stopped this man like so many others is unbearable and overwhelming. I know he's in good hands, but not knowing the outcome is the hardest part.
My prayers go out to everyone fighting for their lives and for their family and friends. I thank the Lord that we have so many people praying for my father as well as for an end to such a horrible virus.