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RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:
Time now for StoryCorps. Today - a mother and daughter who help people in the last stages of their lives. Michelle Huston and her daughter, Lauren Magana, are social workers in the Atlanta area. In 2018, they came to StoryCorps to talk about their work.
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MICHELLE HUSTON: My grandmother was dying, and I went to see her, and she was barely speaking, but said to me, be happy. So I took that and literally changed my life 180 degrees. I went back home, told your dad that I needed a divorce - and I had dropped out of high school at the age of 17 - and I went to college (laughter). At 40 years old, I started undergrad program, and now I work with the dying. So that's how it started.
LAUREN MAGANA: I always tell people when they ask me, why did you become a social worker, I tell them, well, my mom was kicking butt all the way through school. And you humanized people and you taught me how not to be afraid of people because people have value. It is a privilege to be a part of even a small part of their life and then a privilege to help them move on to wherever is beyond death.
MARTIN: That was two years ago. This year, Michelle and Lauren spoke again through StoryCorps Connect. They talked about working with COVID-19 patients.
HUSTON: It has been tragic in ways that, unless you are in this business, would be hard to understand. I've lost several people over these last couple months that I wasn't able to say goodbye to. And so that has been really hard.
MAGANA: Yeah, I called you the other day crying because you're one of the few people that I know that truly understand, like, how hard our job is. I went to help this man who's well in his 90s. I'm in, like, a gown and I have two masks on and I am trying to talk to him and he can't hear. He's hard of hearing. And he started just openly weeping, sobbing. And then he shakily stands up and he grabs me and hugs me and says into my ear, I can't hug my granddaughter, so I'm going to hug you. And I started to lose it. And we weren't supposed to touch, but it was so worth it.
HUSTON: Well, this has definitely been a challenging few months, but I just want you to know that I am extremely proud of you. And it is such a privilege to be in this work with you.
MAGANA: I think that I am really, really blessed to be able to know what I want to do and do it and love it and do it with my mom.
MARTIN: Michelle Huston and her daughter, Lauren Magana. Their conversation will be recorded at the Library of Congress.
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