DALLAS — Norma Flowers' children will tell you she never met a stranger and had endless love for her seven kids.
“We were her world,” said Flowers' daughter Kristi Holt. “You know, we were probably her hobby, to be honest with you.”
“You didn't mess with none of her babies,” said Misty Sandoval, another of Flowers' daughters.
Norma Flowers' kids now celebrate Mother’s Day with children and grandchildren of their own.
“We sisters all tell our kids: If you just cleaned, that's the best gift I could ever get,” Norma Flowers' daughter Glenda Flowers joked.
This year, though, her children will have their first Mother’s Day without mom.
Flowers was 85 and passed away in July from COVID-19. Two of Norma’s daughters were allowed to see her in person in her hospital bed as they wore protective gear. They FaceTimed the rest of the family as Norma passed away.
“Having to say goodbye on video, it's just the hardest thing I think anybody could go through, the absolute hardest,” Sandoval said.
“To see someone with COVID to suffer like that, it's like a horror story when I think about it,” Glenda Flowers said.
The typically large Thanksgiving and Christmas gatherings with dozens of relatives couldn’t happen and passed this year without the familiar hugs or long phone calls with mom.
“I guess it was Wednesday. I was at the store and then I saw all the Mother's Day things and the cards, and I just cried going there going down the aisles,” Glenda said. “It was really hard.”
“Usually on this day we go, and we take her flowers and do things,” Sandoval said. “Now I have to go to her grave to take her flowers, and I think it's just so hard.”
Not wanting to risk losing any other family members, the sisters hadn’t gotten together until they were fully vaccinated last week.
“We had a tearful a tearful reunion where we got to hug each other for the first time in over a year,” Holt said.
“It's sad knowing that she never got a chance to even get the COVID shot,” said Brenda Mask, another one of Flowers’ daughters. “She never had the chance.”
Nearly 600,000 people in the U.S. and nearly 50,000 in Texas have died from COVID-19. This Mother’s Day, many families will feel the weight of something missing.
“Take things moment to moment on a day like this. Just be kind to yourself. Take, take small steps,” Holt said. “There is hope after grief.”
For Norma Flowers' children, the strength of family has helped carry the heavy burden of loss.
“Love your mom while you can,” Glenda Flowers said. “I'm very thankful that my mom gave me all my sisters.”