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Love and Mourning: Remembering Mothers We’ve Lost

by Jessica Campbell

Many of us will be missing our moms this Mother’s Day.

For families who have recently lost mothers, the day is especially poignant, as they cherish precious memories while, at the same time, striving to cope with grief themselves and help their family do the same.

So many families across the nation have paid unforgettable tribute to mothers who have passed away during the coronavirus pandemic this spring. Their obituaries tell the stories of strong women who nurtured lovingly and loved fiercely.

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Here are some of those stories.


Coronavirus Memorial: Susie Chin Lee

Susie Chin Lee

Everett, Washington

Over two weeks in March, brothers Raymond and William Lee lost their mother Susie as well as their sisters Regina and Willa to coronavirus. The three Lee women lived together.

In an interview with the Seattle Times, Raymond remembered growing up: Susie Lee, who worked as a housekeeper, had her hands full with four children born one right after the other.

“We drove her crazy, the four of us,” he said.

The family were last together when they celebrated Chinese New Year. Raymond recalled that his mother and sisters “were loving and they lived life to their fullest.”


Coronavirus Memorial: Antoinette Franklin

Antoinette Franklin

New Orleans, Louisiana

The Franklin family of New Orleans was also hit hard by coronavirus. Between March 20 and March 30, four family members died of COVID-19, including family matriarch Antoinette Franklin and three of her sons Herman Franklin Jr.Timothy Franklin, and Anthony Franklin Sr.

Messages left in her obituary guest book pay tribute to the beloved great-great-grandmother:  

“Mrs. Antoinette was a mother figure to everyone. You will be missed by all.”

“Mother Franklin is da sweetest lady anyone could ever want to meet in this lifetime. Her entire family is a blessing. My heart is so heavy for all of y’all.”

“Rest in heaven Grandmother, you will be miss. I Love You!!”


Coronavirus Memorial: Betty Foster Workman

Betty Lou Jacobsen Foster Workman

Kaysville, Utah & Novi, Michigan

“Our sweet mother, grandmother, and sister passed away on April 10, 2020…” begins the obituary for Betty Foster Workman. Betty lived most of her life in Utah before moving to a nursing home in Michigan where she could be close to her daughter.

“Her family meant everything to her. Her visits to the homes of her daughter and son’s families are memories that will always be cherished.”

“Betty was there to support her family in both good and challenging times. Anyone who knew her knew how kind she was. She never got angry or said a harsh word towards anyone. She simply loved others.”


Lolita Torres

Queens, New York

In a short span, Lloyd Torres lost both his mom Lolita and his brother Louis to coronavirus.

In an interview with New York’s ABC 7, Lloyd remembered his mother as a Filipino immigrant who sacrificed so much for her sons. 

He last saw her two weeks before she died when he took her some groceries so she could make her favorite Filipino soup.


Coronavirus Memorial: Dorothy Brunetti

Dorothy Brunetti

Staten Island, New York

It’s clear from her obituary that Dorothy Brunetti loved her family and was loved in return.

The “beloved wife, mother and grandmother” was “giving and nurturing” and “there wasn’t anything she wouldn’t do for her family.”

As her health declined, Dorothy told her family this:

“When I die, I will be with you always, just look up to the sky. I will be watching over you. Pray and talk to me.”


Coronavirus Memorial: Luz Maria Arocho Maldonado

Luz Maria Arocho Maldonado

Monsey, New York

Luz Maldonado was “a strong Puerto Rican woman” who raised nine children and loved watching her two granddaughters grow up. 

“Luz was known to all as a devoted and loving wife, mother, sister and friend. The twinkle in her eye, the taste of her rice and beans, and her countless bendiciones always let you know how much she loved you.”

“She made the most amazing pasteles in the world and nurtured her children with an abundance of food and love.”


Coronavirus Memorial: Karen Ann Cutting

Karen Ann Cutting

Seattle, Washington

Karen Cutting’s daughter published a loving obituary for her mother:

“My beautiful Mother, Karen Ann Cutting and passed away on March 29, 2020, from Covid-19… I miss you Mom you’re always in my heart.”

In the obituary, she also paid tribute to her grandmother, a single mother who raised Karen and her sister in Montana and then Seattle, where she “worked at Bell Telephone Co., so that Karen could go to University of Washington.”


Coronavirus Memorial: Clida Martinez Ellison

Clida Martinez Ellison

Detroit, Michigan

Clida Ellison, the mother of Minnesota attorney general Keith Ellison, “raised five sons while working with her husband as the office manager of his medical practice.”

When she was 57, her husband suffered a debilitating stroke. Clida went back to school and earned her master’s degree in social work then began a new career in the juvenile division of Michigan’s Third Circuit Court.

“She was still serving young people in the court system, weeks before she passed away.”


Coronavirus Memorial: Anne Gagne

Anne Mary Gagne

Detroit, Michigan

Even the youngest members of her family knew not to mess with Anne Gagne.

As “the unquestionable family matriarch,” Anne “instilled a tradition of toughness, accountability, faith and family, with a respectful rigor of command.”


Coronavirus Memorial: Kathleen Gallagher

Kathleen Gallagher

Westwood, Massachusetts

Kathleen Gallagher’s “greatest joy in life was being a mother, grandmother and great-grandmother,” and she “was fiercely proud of her children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren.”

A “true matriarch of the family,” Kathleen served as a “clearinghouse” of family news and maintained an amazing knowledge of all of the activities of her children and grandchildren.


Carolina Tovar & Leticia Ramirez

Rowland Heights, California

The Tovar-Ramirez family lost two beloved matriarchs to coronavirus.

Carolina and Letty were an “inseparable” mother-daughter pair, who often could be found together cooking in the kitchen, watching classic Mexican films, getting their nails done, and talking about everything.

The “twin matriarchs,” as the Los Angeles Times describes them, passed away on the same day.

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