PASADENA, Calif. – Emmanuele Garcia’s dad, Antelmo, would have turned 65 years old on May 28. But less than a week ago, this immigrant and jack of all trades worker lost his life after contracting the coronavirus.

What You Need To Know

  • Antelmo Garcia died of COVID-19 days before his 65th birthday

  • He had intended to go back to Mexico to celebrate his retirement

  • Antelmo is one of 100,000 Americans to die because of the coronavirus

  • His family is now cherishing a lifetime of memories and lessons

“My dad was a working man. He was never late to his job, always waking up early,” Emmanuele Garcia said.

He is now packing up a bunch of his dad’s old pictures, letters to Mexico, and even his old dancing shoes. The items will represent Antelmo at a birthday celebration remembering his life.

Antelmo was planning to go back to Mexico to celebrate his 65 years of life and his retirement. Born in Mexico City, he came to the U.S. as an adult and did whatever he could to provide for his family.

“He was a cook, a construction worker, a truck driver. He worked in the fields picking fruit,” Garcia said.

Just as his father was set to enjoy the fruits of his labor, Antelmo contracted COVID-19 in late March. Garcia and his siblings could only watch his slow decline.

“We were given good news [and] bad news. That [even as] his breathing got better, his tests got worse, [and] his blood count went high. It was a mix of signals his body was giving us,” said Garcia.

Eventually, he and his family would have to make the call to let their father go. Now, they want to honor him on what would have been a monumental day for Antelmo.

“Now that he’s not here, we have to cherish that moment that he was so close to his 65th birthday,” Garcia said.

Garcia is cherishing a lifetime of memories and lessons his father taught him.