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Woman uses stimulus money to fly grandparents back to Chicago to get COVID-19 vaccine: ‘I just hoped I would see them again’

Laura Rodríguez Presa, Chicago Tribune on

Published in Parenting News

CHICAGO – It was nearly two years ago that Elizabeth Oyarzun had last seen her grandparents. And every day for the past year, she prayed she would see them again.

After what seemed like an eternity, the two arrived at O’Hare International Airport from Monterrey, Mexico, Sunday night, she said.

Oyarzun, the couple’s oldest granddaughter, who they raised as their daughter, used the money from her most recent stimulus check to fly them to Chicago to get a COVID-19 vaccine. She feared they wouldn’t get it in time in Monterrey.

Her grandmother, Irma Rodriguez, 70, contracted COVID-19 in October, and though she survived, the fear that her grandfather, Jose Perez, 74, would eventually get the coronavirus haunted her, Oyarzun said.

But it was the distance that hurt the most, Oyarzun said.

Oyarzun, 30, lives in University Village, on Chicago’s West Side. Her grandparents have spent long periods living with her in Chicago. But the two are retired and, since before the pandemic began, have been in their native Monterrey, where Oyarzun was born, although they’re legal U.S. residents, she said.


“I just hoped I would see them again,” Oyarzun said.

Her hope gave her the strength to overcome the anxiety and pain of being apart from two of the people she cherishes most in the world.

“I wish my grandparents were eternal,” she said, and paused for a long time.

“But the reality is that they are not, so I will do my best to keep them safe and healthy for as long as possible,” she said.


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