By Megan Mellado | February 1, 2021 at 12:10 PM EST – Updated February 2 at 9:00 AM
OSCEOLA COUNTY, Fla. (WESH) – A Florida family is mourning the loss of a mother who fostered more than 300 children and adopted seven of her own.
WESH reports Susan Braley died after contracting COVID-19 and being rushed to the hospital because of low oxygen.
Braley’s grandson Thomas Bartholemew recalled his final conversation with her.
“Right before my grandmother passed, I got to talk to her, you know, when they were wheeling her out,” Bartholemew said. “First thing I wanted to tell her was that I love you and thank you for everything you’ve done in my life, and she said, ‘I love you too.’”
On her way to the hospital, Braley asked Bartholemew to make sure their family continues holiday traditions they’ve shared for years, including getting two or three turkeys at Thanksgiving to feed people in need of a meal.
Braley welcomed hundreds into her home, fostering more than 300 children and permanently taking seven under her wing. She and her husband of more than 45 years raised the kids together.
Her husband is also battling the virus, and he is currently in the ICU.
“Right when he made it to the same hospital, that’s when she passed,” Bartholemew said. “He just got checked in. They gave me a call so that I could let the kids know.”
Bartholemew is hopeful he will survive so the big family Braley helped create can stay together.
“They’ve already lost their first family, this is their second family and we have kids who are older who understand that,” Bartholemew said.
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