Diné man was a proud dad, 'someone you could lean on'

Christopher Todacheenie (Photo courtesy of Chasitty Todacheenie)

Kalle Benallie

PORTRAITS FROM THE PANDEMIC

Christopher Todacheenie was one month shy of his 47th birthday when the coronavirus took his life.

The father of four had been hospitalized for just a week when he died May 11.

“The hospital said he was just sleeping and was really weak so he wasn’t on his phone,” his daughter Chasitty Todacheenie said in an email. "Before he got sent to Albuquerque, I sent him a quick message telling him to keep fighting, be safe, and that I loved him."

Christopher, Diné, was born in Shiprock, New Mexico, and was known as “Chris” or “Tody.” He worked as a welder and ironworker and had three sons, Dominque, Chad and Devin, and one daughter, Chasitty.

She said if you were to ask anyone about her father, they would tell you a great story because of his sense of humor.

“He was very supportive with everything I did and how I expressed myself. He was someone you could lean on and go to if you needed to talk,” she said.

And just a couple weeks before he contracted the virus, she recalled a favorite memory of him where they discussed future plans after her graduation from Fort Lewis College.

“We went to the base of the mountain near his mom’s house and gathered sage. We made plans to go up the mountain, have a cookout, and made plans to have an NAC [Native American Church] meeting.”

She said he may have contracted the virus from a family friend who didn’t know he was sick. 

Only a few people were allowed to attend his funeral, though others could pay respects if they wore masks and gloves.

“I just hope everyone stays safe and is practicing being a good relative to one another by following the rules set to keep us safe,” Chasitty said.

Meanwhile, she treasures the memories of sitting next to her father, singing and praying at the Native American Church meetings.

“Every time I was with him, he would tell me over and over again how proud he was of me and my brothers,” she said.

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