Tight-knit family reflects on losing beloved relatives to COVID-19

There is light at the end of the tunnel as businesses start to reopen, kids head back to school, and people get vaccinated. But for many families, their lives will never be the same again. For those who lost a loved one because of COVID-19, the pain continues to linger.

Sonya Chavez was blessed with a close, tight-knit family-- 9 brothers and sisters. She said her father Guadalupe Chavez raised them, after Sonya’s mother passed away during childbirth, along with her baby sister.

"How passionate he still was, 28 years later after my mom wasn't here, he would still talk about her as if it was yesterday. The stories he had about her, how much love he had for her, he never got remarried," she explained. 

Sonya describes her father as kind, hard-working, responsible and loving. She said he was a man who dedicated his life to his children.

"My dad was the best human being, and I am not just saying that because he was my dad, how everybody would look at him, he would make food for us after coming home from a 10-hour workday. He wouldn't come home in a bad mood or anything-- he would come home ready to share his love and to feed us and take care of us," said Chavez.

Four months ago, their lives changed forever.

Guadalupe and Sonya's older brother, Martin, were both diagnosed with COVID-19 and sadly, both lost their battle. 

Martin passed away first. He was 48.

"He was like a second parent to all of us and it hit us really hard when my brother passed, it was unexpected, it left us with so much pain and not knowing what to do," said Chavez.

Guadalupe fought hard, but he didn't make it. He was 75.

"He was just so special to me and my brothers and sisters, I am never going to forget about him or what he did for us, but I want to share a little bit of who he was and who he meant to all of my brothers and sisters --  I know he is hearing me and he would be proud of the person I am -- and I love him so much. I just want the world to know that be was the best," said Chavez.

Guadalupe spent 45 years working as a handyman for the city of Redondo Beach. He had retired but he continued to work part-time just to keep busy.

For Guadalupe, life was about family.

"Everyone would come over on Sundays to my dad's house... imagine 18 grandchildren at the house, 9 children plus everyone's spouse there -- we were literally about 30 people at one house and everybody would just look at us like 'they're probably having a party,' when we were just visiting my dad on a Sunday," Chavez recalled. 

The pandemic robbed the Chavez family of their Sundays. Last year was hard on the entire family.

"I was trying to stay away from my dad, so I saw him less then I would normally. So, it's been very hard, sometimes I would drive by his house with a mask on and my dad would come out with a mask --or sometimes we would just sit outside -- it has been so hard, my life has changed so much, not for the good," said Chavez.

Sonya is left with many wonderful memories of her father, but she really wanted to honor her father's memory in some way.

"Celebrities get the honor, the legacy and always will be remembered. For my dad, it wasn't going to happen so I just wanted everyone to know who Guadalupe Chavez was. He was the best father, the best human being, hardworking, nine children by himself with my brother's help of course..." said Chavez.

She hopes how Guadalupe lived his life inspires others when they are faced with hardships in their own lives.

"If something bad happens, don't give up -- it's possible to get through anything. If he got through losing his love, his wife, his partner, from one day to another, and still getting up and working and raising 9 children on your own, that's what I want his legacy to be, anything is possible if you love and you dedicate your time to it, it's possible," she said. 

Get your top stories delivered daily! Sign up for FOX 11’s Fast 5 newsletter. And, get breaking news alerts in the FOX 11 News app. Download for iOS or Android.