PORT CHESTER, New York — It’s been called a public health necessity: wearing a mask.
However, despite advice from the CDC, the National Institutes of Health, and leading researchers, masks remain a contentious issue in America.
Cristina Pappadake-Gomez lives in Port Chester, New York with her family.
“You hear about pandemics in history or textbooks. You don’t expect to live through one, or in my father’s case, not live through one,” Pappadake-Gomez explained.
She remembers her dad being a funny, entertaining guy. She described him as a “total jokester.”
“He was the kind of dad that would go to every sports game, even though he knew you’d be sitting on the bench,” Pappadake- Gomez recalled. “He was just such a great guy. There’s no other way to put it, such a great guy.”
Photos: Gregg Pappadake
Gregg Pappadake was also an essential worker, delivering medication as the COVID-19 pandemic began. Within weeks, he was in the hospital.
“Every day, there was different reports, different doctors calling with different results," she recounted. "They would fix one thing, and then they would scramble to fix another thing."
The separation made it difficult for the family to be supportive of Gregg while he was in the hospital.
“After a month, exactly, a month to the day of being in the hospital, he passed away,” she said.
Pappadake-Gomez said she believed in wearing masks since Day 1. After her father died, she decided to use her mask to send a message.
She found one that reads: “My dad died. That’s why I’m like this.”
Pappadake-Gomez decided this would be a perfect opportunity to relay her mission to anyone she comes in contact.
“If anyone has any questions as to why my mask says, ‘I’m like this because my dad died,’ well that’s a perfect dialogue to give them my reasons,” she said.
Pappadake-Gomez said those who’ve lost someone to COVID-19 can relate to the importance she places on masks. She said she hangs on to the belief that her dad would still be alive if people were strict about wearing masks from the beginning.
“Anything I can do to stop the spread, flatten the curve, to allow someone’s father to walk them down the aisle or someone’s grandfather to be there for their kid’s baseball game, I’ll do it,” said Pappadake-Gomez.
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