As cases rise, and the holidays approach, the number of lives taken by coronavirus continues to grow.
The Delgado family started worrying about Sandra and Fred Delgado after the couple was admitted to Abrazo Arrowhead after testing positive for the virus.
The couple, married for 46 years, were known for their lovable spirit and infectious smiles.
“They loved each other and couldn’t be without each other," said their son Richard Delgado, who lives in Indianapolis.
“You knew my dad without knowing him, and my mom without knowing her," added Freddy Delgado, Fred and Sandra's eldest son. "They greeted everyone with a smile."
Their battle was short, though. Sandra passed away on December 7. Ten days later, her mother-in-law, Lidia Delgado, died at a different hospital. On December 20, Fred Delgado Sr. took his last breath.
“It’s been a nightmare, it’s felt like a nightmare that we can’t wake up from," added Jennifer Grady, Fred and Sandra's only daughter.
"It’s a shock, it’s grief, it’s sadness, it’s unthinkable really," said Freddy. "They didn’t live in fear, they didn’t live in a bubble. They still would take precautions; they took a calculated risk and unfortunately this virus was devastating to them and our family.”
The couple was well-regarded across the Valley. Fred was a well-known soccer coach in Phoenix since the 1980s.
"Phoenix is a huge city," said Freddy. "The soccer community growing up, it was a small community. It’s still like that, and I know there’s a lot of people that he touched that are going to be devastated.”
Freddy recalls his dad getting calls from kids he coached asking when they'd be able to go out and practice again. Most games and practices were canceled due to the spread of COVID-19 earlier this year. Delgado and his wife even delivered meals to families of the kids he coached, and constantly checked in to see how they were getting through the pandemic.
"It was not about the X's and O's, about the technique or any of that stuff," said Freddy. "It was more about the relationships that he built with people. The confidence that he gave these young boys and girls, men and women. That’s what being a coach to him was and that’s something that as a coach in my own profession that I hope one day I can live up to."
Their loss, taking a toll on the entire family. All three children and grandchildren remember how much the Delgados loved celebrating Christmas.
"My dad loved (to dress) up as Santa Claus. He would do silly dances, would embarrass people," said Richard. "That's definitely one of the memories I cherish."
“I’m going to make sure that they know every single memory they had with each other and every moment that’s happened with them." said 11-year-old Emma Grady, of her younger brother and sister who only knew their grandparents for a short time in their lives.
The Delgado family says they have not planned a funeral at this point, but hope to have one in 2021, if it's safe to gather the family to pay their respects.
Still, they hope their pain and grief sends a message to those who may be growing tired of taking safety precautions as we approach a new year, proving COVID-19 is still having significant impacts on families across the country.
"We don’t understand why some people fight it and get through it and some people don’t," said Grady. "We just don’t understand and until we do let’s just be more mindful of each other.”