80-year-old Tulare woman celebrates Thanksgiving after 10 months in the hospital with COVID-19

TULARE, Calif. (KFSN) -- Thankful to be alive.

Thanksgiving is taking on a new meaning for a South Valley family who feared they'd never see the holiday with their loved one again.

"I'm thankful we have another with her. I'm thankful she's here with us now," said Luci Perez.

Perez's mother, Maria Ferrumpau, spent 10 months in the hospital battling COVID-19.

She was released to go home in October.

"It's so much better," said Ferrumpau in Portuguese as Luci translated.

Maria's husband, Francisco Ferrumpau, visited Maria nearly everyday despite having stage 4 cancer.

Earlier this year, the thought of being together for Thanksgiving was just a hope in the minds of Maria's family.

Odds were stacked against them. At 80 years old, Maria had many health issues including a pacemaker, high blood pressure, and diabetes.

"Last year when the doctor told us that we need to prepare for the worst. So at that point, we didn't know if there would be another holiday," Perez said.

But she beat the odds and with the opportunity to celebrate, Maria's daughter and grandchildren gathered together Thursday.

Maria isn't fully recovered, but is healing.

"She says she feels good, she's walks a little bit. She's not 100% walking like she'd like, but she's getting there. Getting stronger each day," Perez said, translating for Ferrumpau.

The family said the battle of COVID-19 changed their perspective on life.

Perez, who lives in Las Vegas, said she now calls her mother every single day and visits as much as she can.

"Because I've missed so much, last year. Now I actually make the time now, regardless. Because I don't want to miss another minute," Perez said.

For Maria, she's thankful to still be here.

"Everything that everyone has done for her and she's very thankful for God, giving her life," Perez said translating for Maria.

The precious gift of life.

Something Perez clings to these days and something she hopes every other person gathering with their family on Thanksgiving keeps in mind.

"Don't take your family for granted. Love them. Cherish them. Wrap your arms around them. Tell them you love them," said Perez.

This is just the first celebration. For Christmas, all six of Maria's children will be there along with her 17 grandchildren and 13 great-grandchildren.
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