Long Beach mayor soldiers on after COVID-19 deaths in family

When 61-year-old Gaby Elena O’Donnell died on July 26 from issues because of COVID-19, her son Robert Garcia honored her on Twitter, posting photographs of his mom at her job as a medical assistant at a clinic. She dutifully wore a masks and scrubs.

Two weeks later, on Aug. 9, his stepfather, 58-year-old Greg O’Donnell, who had been combating for his life on a ventilator, additionally died because of COVID-19 issues.

However for the Lengthy Seaside mayor, this was no time to cease.

Garcia powered by way of information conferences and pleaded with the general public to put on masks and keep their distance. He introduced the 2021 metropolis funds proposal amid the best financial disaster in many years and stress to defund police companies after the historic protests over the loss of life of George Floyd by the hands of a Minneapolis police officer.

Garcia gave media interviews about his household and Lengthy Seaside’s COVID-19 plans as almost 10,000 residents grew to become contaminated and town’s coronavirus loss of life depend reached 187.

On Twitter, vice presidential candidate Kamala Harris expressed her condolences, and advised him, “Moms are irreplaceable however I do know yours will proceed to be a guiding pressure all through your life.”

Garcia has little question about that.

“My mother taught me to be actually sturdy,” the mayor mentioned in an interview with The Occasions. “Once you get elected mayor of your group, that’s a tough job that requires a degree of toughness and realizing what you signed up for. I signed up for a job no matter arduous moments in my private life.”

For the whole thing of Garcia’s time period, Gaby Elena O’Donnell had been a fixture in Lengthy Seaside metropolis affairs, beloved by the various who knew her. Throughout council conferences, metropolis occasions and different engagements the mayor was concerned in, there she was to help her son.

“I believe typically she nonetheless thought I used to be 18 years previous in her head,” Garcia mentioned.

Throughout a July 30 information convention, Garcia regaled his viewers with recollections of his mom.

He was a 5-year-old boy when he left Peru together with his mom, father and grandmother looking for the American dream. They fled home terrorism and financial uncertainty.

Collectively, Garcia and his mom realized English and made a brand new residence in California. His mom labored at thrift shops and as a housekeeper, finally touchdown a job at her most up-to-date office, a clinic the place she was a medical assistant for greater than 25 years.

Greg and Gaby O'Donnell, who met at a disco bar, were “just totally in love. They were always happy.”

Greg and Gaby O’Donnell, who met at a disco bar, had been “simply completely in love. They had been all the time comfortable.”

(Robert Garcia)

A pair years after arriving within the U.S., Garcia’s mother and father divorced. Ultimately, Gaby met Greg O’Donnell on an evening out at a disco bar within the San Gabriel Valley. He remained loyal to her and his household ever since.

O’Donnell was a quiet but additionally gregarious man who cherished easy issues in life, Garcia mentioned. He labored arduous to start out and keep his contracting enterprise for about 30 years. He appreciated to host barbecues and spend time together with his household. Garcia’s mom and O’Donnell finally had a son collectively.

“He was only a good dad and good grandpa to my brother’s son,” Garcia mentioned. “He was a tough employee and took care of the household very well.”

“He was very humble and the strongest particular person I’ve ever identified,” Garcia’s brother Jacob O’Donnell wrote in a public Fb put up. “He had a coronary heart of gold.”

And he and Garcia’s mom had been “simply completely in love. They had been all the time comfortable.”

A couple of years in the past, Garcia went again to Peru together with his mom. She hadn’t been to her homeland in many years.

They went by way of the neighborhood she grew up in. She pointed to the window of her previous barrio condo, her favourite anticucho cart, a stand promoting varied sorts of meat dishes. They visited different landmarks of her life.

“It was superb to see Peru by way of her eyes,” he mentioned.

However one of the joyful second of Gaby O’Donnell’s life was the day she grew to become a U.S. citizen, Garcia mentioned. She instilled in her son a an appreciation for his or her adopted residence. Garcia would change into an American citizen a 12 months after his mom.

“I take into consideration, throughout these occasions, my mom’s optimism in us constructing a greater future and a greater group,” he mentioned. “She all the time mentioned to me and to my brother that we’ll by no means have the ability to give again to our nation what our nation has given to us.”

It was that perception system that led him to be a public servant, he mentioned.

Now, within the midst of this pandemic and the lack of his mom and stepfather, he wakes within the early morning, turning on his laptop by 6 a.m. He checks together with his workers. Then he checks in together with his mourning household.

In between his duties as mayor, he plans his stepfather’s memorial service.

“The times go fairly late,” he mentioned.

On social media, Garcia has remained energetic, sharing among the messages of help from Gov. Gavin Newsom and presidential candidate Joe Biden. He shares snippets about his mom and stepfather sprinkled in with pleas to his metropolis — the second largest in L.A. County.

He does this, he says, as a result of he is aware of that his job requires him to be clear with the individuals of Lengthy Seaside. However he additionally hopes that possibly, if his constituents hear his story, they are going to understand how lethal actual the virus is.

Perhaps individuals will suppose twice about taking a stroll, and not using a masks, alongside Bluff Park or the seaside. Or wherever, actually.

Even earlier than his mom and stepfather died, it angered the mayor how many individuals didn’t put on masks or take the precautions essential to sluggish the unfold of the coronavirus.

“It’s extremely irresponsible,” Garcia mentioned. For some individuals “it doesn’t actually matter what number of occasions you say it. They’re making a private, irresponsible selection. And I don’t perceive that selection.”

As just lately as Wednesday, the mayor posted his newest plea to the general public. In a brief video on Twitter, he first thanked the various who’ve showered him with help and tacked on a reminder: “Please bear in mind COVID-19 is actual.”

“I hope that my household’s story evokes different households to not simply keep secure, however to spend time with one another and to know they’ve a household they need to examine in on and love and spend time with and that it may very well be gone immediately,” he mentioned.

He’s nonetheless reeling from his mom’s loss of life.

It wasn’t that way back that Gaby O’Donnell was urging him to maintain Lengthy Seaside from her hospital mattress.

“I’m effective, simply deal with town,” the mayor recalled his mom saying to him through Facetime or cellphone calls. “Be sure to’re telling everybody to be secure and put on a masks.”

On Aug. 8, the mayor attended his mom’s memorial service organized with the Lengthy Seaside well being division’s steerage. It was a small service, with household and buddies sitting on chairs lined six toes aside.

The next day, docs knowledgeable Garcia’s brother, Jacob, that his father had died.

Robert Garcia, second from left, celebrates the graduation of his brother Jacob O'Donnell.

Lengthy Seaside Mayor Robert Garcia, second from left, celebrates the commencement of his brother Jacob O’Donnell with mom, stepfather and household.

(Robert Garcia)

Source link


Leave a Reply