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'It’s almost like she’s here with us': Lytle family gathering for Thanksgiving for second year without beloved family member who died from COVID

Patty Moreno urges families to gather with safety precautions in place. She plans on requiring masks for unvaccinated family members.

SAN ANTONIO — Thanksgiving for the Moreno family will be a celebration filled with tradition and reflection on the pandemic.

One year ago, the coronavirus pandemic emerged, changing the lives of millions of Americans.

Patty Moreno recalls the virus impacting her family, including mother-in-law 73-year-old Dora Ytuarte.

Ytuarte, described as the glue to the family, died from coronavirus-related complications in August.

“This will be our second year without my mother-in-law but it’s almost like she’s here with us. We still have pictures on the wall that surround us and remind us that she’s still with us,” Moreno said.

This Thanksgiving will once again bring about traditions in Ytuarte’s honor.

“We’re able to keep that tradition alive, of the recipes that she made, how she did things, how she used to instruct our girls on how to make things. Those are happy joyous moments we have of her,” Moreno said.

The Moreno household will be urging unvaccinated family members to mask up while enjoying the holiday festivities.

Meanwhile, Moreno is keeping spirits high and adjusting her lifestyle after falling ill to the virus last year.

Moreno said her doctor noted the impacts of the virus may have worsened her already weakened immune system.

“Just losing muscle weakness, nerve-endings dying out, things of that nature that usually come with muscular dystrophy so that’s been a very negative challenge for me,” she said.

Faith and family continue to serve as the vital ingredients of Thanksgiving and the holidays in general for Patty Moreno

“I am spending as much time with my family. We’re continuing to make the best memories and will continue to make.”