Coronavirus give athletics perspective when someone is taken from your family

Bryce Ros

Many aspects of current life have no resemblance to what we have become accustomed to before the Coronavirus. We must be extra vigilant about washing our hands and being around other people. Social isolation is not a trait that comes easily to most people. As humans, we naturally want to be around one another, given joy by way of approval of the group. Today when we drive at rush hour in Atlanta or any other city that has been highly affected by the virus is a breeze compared to the normal hour commute. By far the part of our lives that most seem to hate not having is our eternal escape from the monotony of our daily lives, sports. I will admit that as a sports writer it is not easy to write about something in which nothing is taking place at the current time. Life froze in a cold world where we do not get to wake up on Saturday mornings and watch Liverpool F.C. have one of the greatest seasons in the history of the EPL. Our beloved Atlanta United is no longer stepping on the pitch due to the virus and of course, none of us have the regular pleasure of being entertained by our heroes and favorite athletes.

When someone close to you is affected by this virus, it helps to remind you that at the end of the day all athletics are just games. As wonderful and sublime as a beautiful goal or a phenomenal catch is to watch, whether you are at the game or watching it live on TV. Professional sports pales in comparison to human life and the fragility which we sometimes forget comes with living. The reason that I bring that up is that my Grandmother Yaya, died of the Coronavirus Tuesday, April 31st in Barcelona, Spain. The attitude I carried before I found out of her death was centered on the inevitability of Pandemics and Plagues. As a student of history, I believe that they are part of the natural cycle of life. For instance: The Bubonic Plague wiped out over 1/3rd of the population of Europe, not counting the deaths from other countries. In 1918 The Spanish Flu which ironically had its origins in Kansas.
Worldwide it killed over 50,000,000 people. Thankfully it seems like the proper steps have been taken to curve the virus. The thing that worries me is that many look at the numbers simply as a statistic. Every death that is seen added to the wrath of the virus is a person with loved ones, it’s somebody’s mother, sister, brother, father, grandparent, or son or daughter. I do not want Yaya to just be a statistic, and since I have the forum given to me by Sports Illustrated and the Maven. I want you to know about my Yaya and that she was not just a statistic. She was a kind woman who lived a long life with a fair amount of difficulty, but she persevered until COVID-19 finally took her.

My Grandmother was born in Madrid during the Spanish Revolution which saw Francisco Franco rise to power. Franco was a ruthless man, seemingly devoid of morals who allowed Hitler to test his Condor Legion consisting of the best pilots in the Luftwaffe on cities in Northern Spain. Pablo Picasso’s painting Guernica depicts the random bombing that Franco allowed on his people; so much as he could maintain an iron grip on the country and win the war. My grandmother escaped the encircled city of Madrid when she was a child by way of train, finally ending up with family in the wonderful Catalonian City of Barcelona. She survived the War to and married my grandfather, Francisco Ros IV. They built a family together for years in Barcelona before finding a way to the United States.

My family is proof of the American Dream. That being the ideal that anyone can come to this country and have success in life if they are willing to work hard enough, and my Yayo (Grandfather) was the best example of an immigrant that was willing to starve himself (literally his boss had told him that he would bring his family over after a year when he went back on his word my Grandfather went on a hunger strike. He was such an asset to the company, that his boss kept his word) that is the kind of man that raised my father. Yaya preferred Spain to the United States and spent half of her time in Greenville S.C for half the year, and Catalonia for the other. She struggled with depression her entire life, and towards the end of her life was 86 years old. There were so many great things about going to Spain to visit my family. She was the best cook I have ever had served me a meal, especially Paella. There is not a dish on earth that has been able to hold a candle to the Paella Yaya made. She also always wanted to serve you, to help you and make you comfortable. The last time I saw her was a half-decade ago, and I wish now that I had gone to visit her when I was in Europe in October.

A few weeks ago Yaya entered a nursing home in Barcelona, which of course worried my family due to the risky nature of being in a place where everyone has a compromised immune system. After a few days, she was A-symptomatic, but once the virus hit her she had passed on within one day. This is a reminder that Mother Nature will always win, she has a 100% mortality rate if she wants. Yaya lived a long and great life, living in the country she called home since it was in Civil strife, and it’s also the place that she passed which seems fitting. What I want all my readers around the world to know is that my Yaya is not just a statistic. She was much more than that. She was a mother, wife, grandmother, amazing cook, caretaker, laugher, crier, survivor, and long time Barcelona resident.

I never got the opportunity to meet my Grandfather as he died the year I was born. He passed away from Lou Gehrig’s disease in 1990. Yaya was at his bedside the entire time and was always there to be with him to his last breath. The kind of person she was may just be a typical grandmother to some, but she helped raise 6 children including my father who I regard as the greatest man that I know. Through experiences in life Yaya certainly had a hand in the way my parents raised me. This is the face of the Virus.
This face can change in two ways: #1: WE as citizens of this planet and the kin that we share it with must make sacrifices to contain and end the virus.

OR

#2: We all worry about ourselves instead of collectively coming together to evolve past this horrible virus.

Sports will come back but my grandmother is gone. She is gone because I suppose it must have been her time. I ask you all to think about your loved ones and imagine how you would feel if this disease killed someone that you are close to. Don’t let them be statistics. Tell of who they are and what they did or accomplished with the time they had on earth. I believe Yaya did that to the best of her ability, and it does bring me joy to know that she and my grandfather, no longer hindered by a disease that eats away at your muscles while your mind goes on functioning are together again. My grandfather standing and speaking like before he passed, how beautiful the reuniting after 20 years? My Yayo and Yaya are back with each other in a place so infinite in happiness that we on earth can’t fathom the enormity. Yes, I think it’s fair to say that although she is gone, there is solace in knowing they are together. Then someday long down the road, I will see both of them again. Take care of your families, and let's not let this virus beat us.