83-year-old Houston man returns home after long battle with COVID-19

HOUSTON – Christmas arrived early for one Houston family.

The patriarch of their family returned home on Monday after battling COVID-19 for nearly five months.

It was a much-anticipated delivery. A gray hospital van carrying precious cargo pulled up to a home on Glenmawr Drive in southeast Houston decorated with balloons and a welcome home sign. Family members lined the sidewalks to cheer.

Gilbert Falcon, affectionately known as Tati, is finally home.

The 83-year-old spent 149 days in three different medical facilities battling COVID-19. The U.S. Air Force veteran was initially admitted to UTMB Hospital for three weeks. He was moved to Cornerstone Specialty Hospitals Houston Medical Center for two months and spent the remaining time at Baywind Village Skilled Nursing and Rehabilitation.

“My heart. It feels good to be home,” Tati said.

Even the neighbors across the street were excited to welcome him home.

“I’m so glad to see him,” said neighbor Citlaly Ibarra. “We always questioned how he was doing or where he was not seeing him waking up and taking out his truck for errands.”

Daughter Annett DeCuba said the last four months were challenging. The hospital wouldn’t allow family visits whenever COVID-19 cases in the city were high.

“To be isolated like that can bring them down quickly. And we never gave up,” she said. “We just kept fighting and insisting we need to see our dad.”

DeCuba said the family never gave up hope or faith. She said they would send him pictures, encourage him and do all they could to keep his spirits high.

Granddaughter Chloe Morrissey could not wait to put a Santa hat on his head to match his growing, white beard. Morrissey said having Tati home for the holidays is all the gift she needs this week.

“My heart is full,” Morrissey said. “It’s the best Christmas gift I’ve ever received. When doctors told me I had to say goodbye to him it didn’t feel right in my heart.”

The family is grateful Tati made it home in time for Christmas to enjoy the traditional tamales and menudo he loves so much.