A California teen has stepped up to take care of his five siblings after their mother passed away from COVID-19. Juan Jose Martinez, 19 and from Palmdale, lost his 43-year-old mother Brenda in August but refuses to let his family be ripped apart further and has vowed to keep them all together despite the difficulties they face.
- Everyone in Juan’s family tested positive. However, only he and his mother showed symptoms. While his mother initially only experienced a cough, her condition deteriorated within the period of a week and she sadly passed away. While she did suffer from diabetes which made it harder for her to fight off the virus, she was diligent about safety and worked hard to avoid the coronavirus at all costs.
- Brenda’s body just couldn’t fight off the illness. When she began experiencing shortness of breath, Juan quickly called 911. However, Brenda’s lungs eventually collapsed and her kidney failed. “I feel like she’s at peace and she put up a fight, honestly. I was just a big brother and then after my mother passed, I became a father, mother and a big brother at the same time,” Juan told Fox11.
- Juan is taking care of four of his five siblings. His 2-year-old sibling is now living with his father, who got custody in September. However, that still leaves Juan in charge of his four brothers and sisters whose ages range from seven to 15. He’s now their sole provider and in charge of making sure their schoolwork is done, they get medical and dental care, and they’re well looked after in general. It definitely hasn’t been easy. “At first, it was pretty emotional. There was a lot of screaming and crying but I managed to calm them down and told them everything was going to be fine and I wasn’t going to let anything happen to them,” he said.
- His siblings love him even more now that he’s stepped up. As his 15-year-old sister Jovana said, she knows Juan’s sacrifices haven’t been easy but they have been worth it to their family. “I love how supportive he is and is just doing the best that he can for all of us at the moment. I just love the fact that I can turn around and I can talk to him, just like I would with my mom,” she explained. “It’s been really hard. It’s different from a woman and a guy to talk to without having my mom to talk to, but at the end of the day, at least I still have an older brother to look up to.”
- Juan hopes others will start taking the virus seriously. He’s seen first-hand just how it can destroy lives and hates seeing others flout the rules. While many young people may be able to survive, the vulnerable need special care and consideration.
- A GoFundMe has been set up to help the family. At the time of writing, it had over $105,000 worth of donations. You can donate HERE.