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One Year Later, A Daughter Remembers Her Mom, A Nurse Who Died From COVID-19


Rose Taldon was a force of nature. She worked her way through school while being married and raising three children in Boston. She became a nurse, and her daughter, Teadris Pope, says that was her life's work.

TEADRIS POPE: She was like, I'm going to retire. I think I'm going to retire this year. Two years later, she's still working. She just always wanted to help people.

SIMON: Miss Pope says her 63-year-old mother was also her best friend.

POPE: We did talk each day. I would do manis and pedis with her. And we would get together and grab some food. She loved lobster and clam chowder.

SIMON: Rose Taldon was among the first people in America to die from COVID-19. It's not clear how she got sick, but Teadris Pope says that when her mother did get sick, she declined rapidly.

POPE: That's the only time that I heard my mother unnerved or shaken. My mother, being a nurse, had a feeling that she may not have made it through it. And as much as I yelled at her, Mommy, it's going to be fine; you just have to get some rest, she called her friends, and she called her family, and she literally said goodbye.


POPE: They intubated her. That was Friday, early a.m. hours. Saturday morning, I received a call from the doctor, like, this isn't looking good. There was limitations to how many of us could go. And I sent my brothers and my dad. And I took this stand not to go because I had been fully involved with every conversation, every doctor, every decision. And I needed them to have closure.


POPE: The same doctor was there that evening, and she knew I hadn't come in. So she made it a point to call me. I talked to my mom until it was just silence. That was by far the hardest conversation I've ever had in my life. I thanked her for her fight. I thanked her for her strength. And I just let her know that it's OK to go.


POPE: Over the last year, managing without her, you know, it's a struggle. She's missed major milestones in our lives. She missed the birth of her last grandson. She missed the graduation of her eldest granddaughter. After midnight, my mother would call each one of us on our birthday, and she would sing horribly into our answering machines. That was probably the hardest to not receive that call.


POPE: Some of the moments that I feel my mother the most is when I'm with my children. My oldest - he's a lot like her, and she spoiled him rotten. He wanted an iPhone for his birthday, and I was like, no way. No 11-year-old needs an iPhone. For the remainder of that day, I could hear my mother, I could feel my mother, like, Teadris, get the boy the phone. And I was arguing with her. I'm not doing it, Mommy. I'm not doing it. Yes, you are. He got the phone.


POPE: It's hard to really grasp the fact that she's not here, but God doesn't make any mistakes, and I have to trust that she accomplished what she came here to accomplish.


POPE: I've had so many people approaching us as a family, just, your mother mentored me as a nurse, and she showed me the ropes and she just - she guided me through a process that was hard. I just want to tell you how she changed my life. There was people that she just met that worked with in hospitals. And she would say, you need to go to nursing school. And if she had to give them the first payment to start nursing school, she would do it. It just gives you a sense of pride how she's impacted so many lives - so many lives.


POPE: I would tell someone who just recently lost a loved one to COVID, this is by far the hardest thing that anyone has ever gone through. And this is hard for us because this is our mother. And I can't promise that each day is going to get easier, but each day is going to come. Just finding some type of peace to make it through each day is the only advice that I can give a person because there is nothing comforting in what is coming from the news, so we have to find our own comfort and just try to make it through each day.


SIMON: Rose Taldon would've turned 65 this week. Teadris Pope's family decided to remember her by doing something that she loved. They took the day off. They met up at Legal Sea Foods, and they enjoyed bowls of her favorite clam chowder.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC) Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.