After three sisters lost their father in June last year, they experienced their first Christmas without their father, and it was hard. Their mom and eldest sister decided to give the two youngest sisters special Christmas gifts. When they opened the gifts, the two young girls immediately cried and buried their heads in each other.
Their father, Albert Angel, passed away in the summer after losing his battle to systemic lupus. Their mother, Stephanie Escarcega, decided to do something special for her young daughters to remember their dad. She wants them to have a piece of their father to hold onto even though he is no longer with them in body.
“He had been doing so well for the past year and got to make many memories with our children,” Stephanie from Phoenix wrote on their GoFundMe page. “They were his entire world. He was the most amazing Father, Son, Brother and Man. Anybody who knew him loved him. He touched many hearts. Our Girls are devastated.”
Stephanie and her eldest daughter, Alina, 16, bought three customized teddy bears from Build-A-Bear Workshop for the younger sisters and their grandmother.
Alina recorded the moment of emotion when her two younger sisters, Aaralyn, 12, and Allani, 7, received the special gifts on Christmas.
“First, I want you guys to open them, and then I want you to smell them,” Stephanie told the girls in the video.
Holding the teddy bears, which were dressed in very familiar blue striped shirts, Aaralyn hugged the bear close and smelled it. She instantly cried. It was sprayed with their dad’s favorite cologne. And the miniature shirts on the bears were tailored by a family member, who used their dad’s shirt to make them.
Then, their mom told them to squeeze the bears. As they did so, both hugged the toys and started to sob because the bears were playing a recording of Albert’s voice.
Alina recorded a video while her dad was singing “You Can’t Keep a Good Man Down” a few years ago. She chose it because the recording was clear and recognizable as their dad’s voice.
Alina posted the video on Twitter and wrote: “Our dad passed away earlier this summer so my mom and I decided to surprise my sisters with bears with his favorite cologne and a recording of his voice. It’s not Christmas without you Dad, but we have you in spirit.”
The video has been viewed more than 7 million times, and liked by almost 510,000 people. Alina expressed that the support they’ve received from strangers is heartwarming.
The sisters’ reactions to their presents tugged on the heartstrings of a lot of people, with some sharing they cried while watching the video.