Falneshia Adams was a southern woman who exuded southern charm.
She had a big personality, her younger sister, Shani Adams Nikolas, said. "She loved life. She loved to laugh. She was a jokester," Nikolas said.
She lit any room she entered. "She had a lot of love," Nikolas said. "She always made us laugh."
Falneshia was born in Orangeburg, in central South Carolina, on Jan. 5, 1971, one of five children. Her father was a military man, and when she was young, the family moved to Pahokee, a small town on the shore of Lake Okeechobee in south Florida.
Her sister said she made friends easily. She loved to dance and was on her high school drill team.
She went to Bethune-Cookman University in Daytona Beach to study hotel management. While she was in college, her older sister, Sonya Robinson, moved to Philadelphia and followed her, taking a job at the Bellevue Hotel in Center City.
A few years after moving to the big city, she changed careers, getting a job in environmental services at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. She loved that job, Nikolas said. She loved being around the children.
And she loved her 10-year-old daughter, E’Nieshia, and would do anything for her, Nikolas said. "She would work overtime just to make sure her daughter had everything she needed."
She was a fashion plate, her sister said. She was always dressed up, her outfits, from her glasses to her shoes, matching. She also liked taking trips with her sisters to the beach or to casinos in Atlantic City, where she liked playing the slots.
She loved to sing and dance and would break into dance whenever she heard a song she liked, favoring R&B, Motown and ‘80s rap. She loved comedy and was a big fan of comedian Martin Lawrence.
When the coronavirus pandemic began in March, she told her sister she was concerned about going to work. "She was an essential worker," her sister said. Falneshia told her family she would be cautious.
On April 3, Nikolas said, Falneshia cleaned a room that had been occupied by a COVID patient and was not wearing protective gear and went into quarantine.
She got sick a week later. Nikolas knew something was wrong because she called her every morning, and the morning of April 10, Falneshia slept in until 11 a.m. "That wasn’t like her," Nikolas said. "It was unusual for her sleep in. She was always the first one up in the morning."
She was admitted to the hospital on April 20 and eventually, was in the intensive care unit on a ventilator.
Nikolas felt terrible she couldn’t visit her sister in the hospital. She would call her three times a day. They talked about all kinds of things and made plans to take one of their girls’ trips after she was released from the hospital.
"In my mind," Nikolas said, "I knew she was going to get better. I knew she was going to get through it. She was going to fight through it."
The last time Nikolas spoke to her sister was May 12, a Tuesday. That evening, Falneshia suffered a severe stroke.
Wednesday night, Nikolas dreamed about her sister. In her dream, Falneshia was fine. She saw Falneshia in her apartment. "I asked her what she was doing," Nikolas said. "And she just laughed."
The next day, May 14, Falneshia died. She was 49.
Nikolas said her family still can’t believe Falneshia is gone.
"She was so full of life," Nikolas said. "I miss her."
If people want to show respect for Falneshia, Nikolas asked that they do what they can to prevent the spread of the virus, including wearing masks and trying to stay home.
"People think this disease is gone and it’s not really serious," Nikolas said. "It’s still here and it is serious. I know. We have to protect ourselves."
Columnist/reporter Mike Argento has been a York Daily Record staffer since 1982. Reach him at 717-771-2046 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This article originally appeared on York Daily Record: An essential worker, a hospital staffer, she contracted COVID at work and died