"She was the glue that kept everybody together."
Francesca McCall, already a mother to seven, is now also raising her sister Chantale's five children.
"We always said that we didn't want our kids to be separated. We wanted our kids to stay together," McCall, 40, told CNN.
Chantale McCall died in September and her husband, Rance Martin, died from COVID-19 complications on October 25th, which would have been Chantale's 35th birthday.
That's when their five children, ranging in ages from 5 to 17, went to go live with their Aunt Francesca.
"She was the glue that kept everybody together," McCall told Good Morning America about her sister. "She was strong in raising her kids. I loved that about her. We always used to talk about how if anything were to happen to her that we want all the children to stay together. Being that I'm the older sister... I was going to make sure not to separate them."
When Chantale McCall died in September from Covid-19, her sister Francesca, who was already raising seven kids of h… https://t.co/Io8k8jsZVj— CNN (@CNN)1606940395.0
McCall is a single mother to her seven kids, who range in age from 1 to 15. She says it's challenging having so many kids under one roof but that they're managing.
"We have all the boys in one room and we have all the girls in the other two rooms, so everybody's kind of just on top of one another," she said. "So we've been making the best out of the situation."
McCall is working from home right now, which makes it easier to supervise the kids' distance learning. Her mom is also staying with them to help out.
McCall says her nieces and nephew are resilient, despite their devastating losses.
"They're doing okay at times and at times they break down, so they're having their days and their moments," she said. "It's been very hard losing their friends, church family and basically everything that's held dear to them."
McCall's community and church congregation are rallying around the family, hoping to raise donations to support them. A church member started a GoFundMe campaign for them that has raised over $300,000 so far.
"I really, really appreciate it, McCall told CNN.
While McCall is still grieving the loss of her sister, she's also committed to giving her nieces and nephew a stable, loving home.
"I'm taking it day by day," McCall told GMA. "I'm trying to make my sister proud."
- The limitations that can come with a large family may be mitigated by ... ›
- Why large families are so happy - Motherly ›