Jennie Alvarado said her mother Juanita Melecio died Monday night from an illness related to COVID-19.
“She dedicated her life to the Lord,” Alvarado said.
Juanita Melecio was 77.
Alvarado was able to speak to both of her parents over the phone shortly before they passed away.
“I just thanked my mom for being such a wonderful mom. She was my best friend, my mentor, my support,” she said. “I started singing for her.”
About four hours later, the love of Melecio’s life and husband of more than 50 years, Luis Melecio Sr., died. His family said he also had a COVID-related illness. He was 82.
“Then I told my dad, ‘Mom is waiting on you … it’s OK to go. You’ve been an awesome dad,'” Alvarado said.
They were both living in a nursing home on Chicago’s North Side when they became ill and were transferred to UIC Hospital.
The couple grew up in Puerto Rico then came to Chicago and raised a family in Humboldt Park.
Alvarado, along with Elliot Melecio and another brother, is now making funeral plans. Early in the pandemic, Jennie Alvarado lost a great aunt as well.
And while their parents had a love story for the ages, their children said they are heartbroken for many reasons – perhaps most of all because they didn’t have a chance to physically embrace their parents before they died.
“To have something that prevents you from personally hugging them, to prevent you from giving them a kiss … it’s hard,” Elliot Melecio said.
“He would say, ‘If (she) dies, I’m going with her. I’m not going to live without her,’” Alvarado said. “And that’s exactly what happened.”
Funeral arrangements are still pending.
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