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Alice woman finds connection and hope in Yellow Heart Memorial organization

Lisa Rodriguez-Escalona lost three family members due to COVID-19 in 2021
Lisa Rodriguez-Escalona
Posted at 8:35 PM, Jul 07, 2023
and last updated 2023-07-07 21:35:31-04

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — In 2021, Lisa Rodriguez-Escalona experienced a loss that she'd never thought would dismantle her family.

She lost her mother, father and grandmother from COVID-19, all within week of one another.

“I lost my family in March, April, and June of 2021," Escalona said, "It was just a domino effect and it was just really quick.”

She attributes the tragedy to the statewide freeze that swept Texas. Her parents lived on their own, but lost power due to the blackout. They decided to head to Lisa's house and stay with her so they wouldn't be alone in the dark. Shortly after, Lisa's home also lost power.

"My grandmother was ill and she was bedridden. She had dementia and we needed to make sure that she was good. So we took her to a facility to shelter her from our home without power," she said.

That's when Escalona said everything turned for the worst and she believed her grandmother contracted COVID-19 from someone working at the facility. Lisa decided to take her grandmother out of the facility and bring her back home. However, Lisa's mother began falling ill.

"We thought it was allergies. It was just symptoms that we thought didn't make sense," Escalona said. "During the pandemic, I was the person that kept wiping down every item. We took our shoes off in the house to keep germs out. I just didn't understand because my parents were practicing those things too."

Lisa said that she got her mother tested for COVID-19 and she found out that her mother was positive. Then her father contracted it and the virus just trickled down from one family member to another.

"My grandmother got taken by ambulance on March 8, my dad was on March 9 and my mom was taken on March 10," Escalona said.

Even with all of the treatment and medical attention, Escalona said nothing was working and shortly after, all three of her loved ones were gone.

“I’ve been told how to grieve," Escalona said. "When I should and when I should stop and there’s no time limit.”

She said she felt alone when she was faced with making hard decision for her family once the time came.

But she quickly found out that she was not alone. Escalona found hope in the Yellow Heart Memorial, an organization that supports those who have lost loved ones to COVID.

Yellow Heart Memorial was founded in January 2021 by Rosie Davis after losing her own mother from the virus in 2020. Escalona said that Davis wanted others to have a support outlet for those experiencing the same loss in hopes that they don't feel alone.

“Our family brought us to each other because our family knew how much that one of us needed the other one to be stronger at other points," she said.

The organization has also created a Fence of Love at Anderson Park in Alice to commemorate those who are gone. However, it doesn't stop there.

On Saturday, the organization will host a sunset vigil to remember all of the victims taken away by the virus. In that moment, Escalona said she and dozens of others who have lost loved ones will push forward with lasting beautiful memories.

“Most days, I’m conquering the world in their honor and that’s something I’ll continue to do," she said.

And although Lisa’s grief may come in waves, the love for her family runs deep like the ocean and is endless.

The vigil will be held at JP Luby Beach Marker 206 at 8 p.m.

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