This is part of a Yahoo News series honoring some of the American lives lost to COVID-19. Their stories are told by family and friends, who were left to deal with their often sudden and painful deaths.
Alicia Arias, 79, of Buena Park, Calif., died on Jan. 13, 2021, after becoming ill with COVID-19. She is among the more than 571,000 Americans who have succumbed to the disease since the first known fatality in the United States in early 2020.
Her daughter, Yolanda Arias, told Yahoo News that people gravitated to her mother because she was loving and accepting of others. “She loved just making everybody happy. Making everybody happy made her happy,” Arias said.
Originally from Guanajuato, Mexico, Arias immigrated to the United States in 1964 in search of the American dream. She settled in Compton, Calif., where she began working for a frozen food packaging company. She later transitioned to a job in the textile industry, making bed sheets and comforters, that lasted until her retirement in the 1990s.
Alicia Arias, 78, of Buena Park, Calif. (Yolanda Arias)
Yolanda Arias, an only child, says she had a special bond with her mother, “a typical Mexican mom.”
“She was strict but also very loving,” Arias said. “She taught me a lot. She was always teaching me, cooking, cleaning and basically just how to make a house, a home.”
Alicia Arias contracted COVID-19 through a family relative and died from the disease after being hospitalized for a month. Her mother, Yolanda’s grandmother, also died from the disease.
One of the ways Yolanda Arias plans on keeping her mother’s memory alive is by cooking some of her favorite recipes. One of them is mole, a rich and savory traditional Mexican sauce made of hot chiles and rich chocolate.
“She made the best mole,” Arias said. “After she passed away, I decided I was going to make it. I am definitely making the mole in memory of my mother.”
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