My name is Carmen “Candy” Vidal. I was born in Puerto Rico. I came to New York when I was eight years old. I have lived in different parts of New York City, but spent most of my life in the Bronx. By 1980, I moved to Castle Hill with my mother, grandmother and son Oskar. In 1985,  I had another son named Manny. I have been living in the Castle Hill Houses for over 40 years now. How time flies.  In 2001, I became a grandmother for the first time. God sent me a beautiful granddaughter Maddy. God sent me Lil Manny in 2015, and in 2019 Lil Max. Those are my beautiful grandchildren that I love with all of my heart. They call me Nana, except for Lil Max, because he’s the youngest. 

In 2018, I retired and became a senior. I started to attend Castle Hill Senior Center which I really enjoy. I started going there because they have different events and activities and one of my favorite activities is photography. I really enjoy our photography class, because we learn how to photograph different photos and how to tell our stories through them. 

They said that the coronavirus started in March, but I think it really started before that. We went to Florida in January to meet my grandson Lil Max, who was born in December. I remember that I was so sick with a bad cough. I went to the doctor to make sure that it wasn’t the flu. The doctor gave me medicine for the cough. Although I didn’t have the flu, I was sick for three weeks and went back to NY.  I was still sick in March and was getting better, but all of a sudden I started developing different symptoms like losing my sense of smell, taste, coughing and high fever.  I called my primary doctor and explained to him what was going on. He suggested that I should get tested for the coronavirus, so I called the number that he gave me. I made the appointment. On Tuesday April 7th, I was tested and by Wednesday, April 15th, I got my result. Unfortunately my result came back positive, but I thanked God that I didn't need to go to the emergency room. That’s when my life made a turn. It was scary that I had to deal with this virus by myself. 

I became my own nurse and God was the doctor. When I started self-quarantine, these were the things I needed to fight the virus: a thermometer, stethoscope, Tylenol, Vicks, Halls cough drops, and my asthma pump. I started taking care of myself. Every six hours I would check my temperature and drink Tylenol. I also checked my lungs and my breathing patterns. I used my asthma pump when needed and  made a home remedy tea  with ginger, honey, turmeric, cinnamon and lemon. I drank so much tea, but I also gargled a mixture of hot water, vinegar and baking soda to soothe my throat. It helped a lot. 

I used to watch and listen to the news, but it was getting me depressed. So many people were dying. I went to Facebook and saw that all of my friends were dying too. I started to write all of my friends' names who had died in a book. It was crazy, but I never lost my faith. My doctor [God] was by my side the whole time. Whenever I couldn’t sleep, I would listen to Christian music and I would fall asleep. It helped me so much. I am so thankful that God was my savior. Thank you Lord for always being by my side. 

After 14 days of self-quarantine, and 7 days without a fever, my doctor finally sent me my COVID-19 recovery letter. This coronavirus experience made me realize that I have no one in New York City, and I made the decision to move closer to my son Manny and his family. I will be moving to Florida by next year, so I can start a new life.

How I survived during the Coronavirus pandemic. These are various objects that I used when I was sick with COVID-19.

Looking at the window, I see the side of the Castle Hill Senior Center building. I miss it so much.

An airplane getting ready to land at LaGuardia airport.

The sun shines through my window and makes lines of light and shadow on the floor.

A beautiful spring day in the Castle Hill neighborhood. Blue skies and a beautiful cherry blossom tree. 

On my way to Lehman College to get tested for COVID-19.

Black and white photographs of my two sons when they were younger. My son Oskar took the photos of his brother Manny.

This mural represents Head Start where I used to work before.

I am holding a  plant while the sun is shining. 

This photograph is recapturing my son Oskar's memory through his artwork. 

A beautiful sunset hitting the ocean water.

Watching the seagulls flying around the sky while eating dinner on City Island.

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