Video: Opinion | The Life of Rosary Castro-Olega, a Retired Nurse Who Returned to the Frontlines

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It’s so hard, because as a nurse, people think I’m her. And I said, you know what. I think you think I’m my twin sister. I said, no, my name’s Rosalie, and my twin sister is Rosary. And she died of the virus. Oh. Oh, my goodness. And let me just dust it off. My sister was born Oct. 7, 1956, in Los Angeles, Calif. Back in 1956, they didn’t have the ultrasound. So I guess in 30 minutes later, the doctor told my mom, you’re having another baby, identical twins. My first name was oh, [BLEEP]. [LAUGHS] I guess when I was born, she said, oh, [BLEEP]. [UPBEAT MUSIC] Filipino by blood, but Mexican by birthplace because it’s East L.A. Ever since we were born, people would get confused with us. We dressed up the same clothes, same hairdo. We were actually very good in school. And we both loved to dance. We got our dancing from my mother because my mother was into jitterbug. [DANCE MUSIC] And then Rosary and I, we would watch American Bandstand. “American Bandstand!” — and “Soul Train.” Watch the moves, that’s how we knew how to salsa, tango and swing, dipping with your leg up here, and also, ballroom dance, Hawaiian hip-hop. Just moving like this, just dancing. Getting nasty. No, me and my sister, we were not scared to dance. My mom was 3 when she left the Philippines. It was hard for her as a single parent. But the Filipino community, they’re very kind, very strong family ties. They take of each other. That was my sister. So we ended up going to nursing school together, always together. We had our fights. She liked this one guy in college. And then he came to go visit her. And then he started talking to me. I think of all the guys I loved, I loved him the most. I thought we were going to get married. And then he went to the Philippines. I saw him off at the airport. I never heard from him. He had a wife in the Philippines. How did I find out? I didn’t find out through my sister. She knew he was married, but she didn’t tell me. I felt embarrassed. It separated my sister and I at that point. It was one of the lowest parts of my life — studying on my own, depressed. She graduated from school, and I got kicked out and joined the Army as a nurse. I’m thinking that to tell me the truth, she thought it would hurt my feelings. Well, I think not telling me the truth hurt me the most. But I didn’t tell her that. I just kept it in. So that was what separated us. [GENTLE MUSIC] She got married, had two kids. Her family was her No. 1. Worked at Cedars-Sinai for 38 years. She retired as a nurse. But she cared about her patients more than she cared about herself. So, during this pandemic, she came back to nursing. “Positive for corona. You want to intubate me?” And then I put, “Praying for you.” And then she said, “You should take the test.” And she asked me if I’m not short of breath. And then that was the last text from her. Having a friend from birth to death, that’s how twins are. We fight. Fight, and then they make up. And so we got back together. My sister Rosary, she loved the color purple. She loved the Lakers. She loved Kobe, yeah. She loved the Dodgers. She loved to travel. She loved her family, her patients. She loved to dance. There’s a video of my sister and I dancing the 60th birthday party. We were getting down, getting nasty. People were like, woo, woo, woo! [LAUGHS] She was happy. My sister was happy and smiling. Yeah, that was my sister. My blood runs in her blood. Twin sister — together since birth.

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