MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Seventeen more deaths means seventeen more goodbyes. And goodbyes are harder than ever with COVID-19, as a Richfield commissioner and his family learned this past weekend.

Simon Trautmann explained some of his mother’s accomplishments to WCCO, “She was an educator, she was an entrepreneur and first and foremost she was a lover of people.”

And people loved Margarita, as her son and husband Daniel explained, “She fit in everywhere. She was valedictorian of her high school class, she was a student representative from Puerto Rico to US Congress.”

Margarita went to school in Minnesota, fell in love, became a Mom, and then – a proud grandma.

At 55, the memories she was making started to fade, it was early onset Alzheimer’s. Her family surrounded her with love for 11 years until they no longer could. She caught COVID-19 at her care facility and passed away on Saturday.

Simon reflected on the moments thereafter, “We couldn’t be with her, we couldn’t see her after she passed, but we were able to be outside the care facility and say goodbye that way.”

“That was one of the most unnatural circumstances I have ever been a part of, to see someone you love and can’t be with them when they die. To observe their body, and have to be at a distance with strangers, with no plan for cultural support, for memorials or open houses, it was totally unnatural,” Daniel said. “I don’t know how you relate it to someone who has never experienced it. It’s as if we were in a different world.”

“We couldn’t be with Mom when she passed but there were people who were and I’m so grateful for them,” Simon said.

And even though the end was bitter for Margarita, the rest of the story was so very sweet.

The Trautmanns say they are thankful for the caregivers at Mt. Olivet Careview Home and all the others who are endangering their own health.

113 of Minnesota’s 160 COVID-19 deaths were people living in care facilities.

Susan-Elizabeth Littlefield