Coronavirus Victims: Mother, Grandmother And Great-Grandmother Mary Joan Todd
MARY LOUISE KELLY, HOST:
Mary Joan Todd was tough - a fighter. She was 87. But after she had a stroke last year, she was putting in the work to get better, showing up for physical therapy at the nursing home where she lived.
JAKE NEWBY: She had made so much progress. And then, all of a sudden, it just came to a dead halt.
AILSA CHANG, HOST:
That is Mary Joan Todd's grandson Jake Newby. About a third of U.S. COVID-19 deaths have been linked to long-term care facilities.
KELLY: Todd was one of them. But Jake Newby wants you to know she was more than a statistic.
NEWBY: These are human beings with faces, with families. And that part of it really, you know, hit home for me personally then, like it has for so many others.
CHANG: Newby is a writer for the Pensacola News Journal in Florida. He wrote a column memorializing his grandmother.
KELLY: She was the daughter of Polish immigrants, born and raised in metro Detroit. She had five children and was a grandmother and great-grandmother to many, and she always made time for each of them.
NEWBY: When I moved to New Mexico originally in 2015, you know, our conversations on the phone really helped me, you know, get over moving and kind of some of the jitters and some of the nervousness that came with moving away from home.
CHANG: Newby says there was a kind of telepathy between him and his grandmother. He would call her up, and she would say she was just thinking about him.
KELLY: But when the coronavirus struck, phone calls were all she could do to connect with her family. Like so many other seniors, Todd was now alone.
NEWBY: Phone calls really was the kind of extent of her social interaction. And that was heartbreaking, you know, to kind of - to hear and to deal with when I was talking to her. I felt for her.
CHANG: It was bad. But Newby had some hope during one video chat with his grandmother before she died.
NEWBY: I waved at her, told her I loved her, told her I missed her, told her that she would get through all of this and she'll be all right. She'll beat this, and we'll be having our regular chats in no time.
KELLY: Todd died two days after that call.
NEWBY: I was grateful to be able to have the relationship I had with her so that, you know, by the time I found out she was infected and that trajectory kind of went south, I wouldn't have been living with these regrets.
CHANG: Mary Joan Todd was 87. She died on Easter Sunday.
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