Friday, March 12, 2021

COVID impact

Pictured, L to R: Theresa, Helena and Caroline Richards in the late 1940s.  

You can't see it in black and white, but Theresa's hair is at the intersection of light brown and blond, and Helena and Caroline both have the most brilliantly red hair.

(When my brothers and I were little, my mother would tell us the story of how often random strangers spoke to her on public transit to compliment her extraordinary hair; she was puzzled because red hair was so strong in her mother's side of the family that it didn't strike her as anything out of the ordinary.  And yes I do think I have an unexpressed red-headedness gene....)

Fourth sister Penny had not yet arrived, but there would be four Richards girls altogether. Now there are three.  

Theresa was born in London on the night Coventry Cathedral was bombed, and the Blitz and its ramifications provided the conditions for Theresa and my mother Caroline's earliest childhood (my mother was born in a town I will not name because it is the answer to a common security question on the internet but to which she has no connection other than that her mother and baby Theresa were evacuated there during the worst period of bombing). 

Theresa's health declined significantly in her seventies, partly perhaps because of her aversion to the dentist (I don't think she had any teeth left in her mouth in her final years).  About eighteen months ago she moved into an assisted living facility outside of London.  She was quite happy there, with regular visits from her son and granddaughter and an enjoyable habit of having a gin and tonic at the end of the day.  The pandemic shut down visiting and I do not imagine this past year was easy for her, with communal dining shut down and virtually no opportunity to leave her room or receive visitors.  

I still don't know the sequence of events - I'm not sure anybody does - but she went into hospital some weeks ago with heart trouble.  And whether she contracted COVID at the home beforehand or it happened during her hospital stay, she got it and it hit her hard.  They stopped treatment finally and she went into hospice and struggled to breathe for another week before she died.

She was eighty years old.  On the basis of family aging patterns, there is every reason to think she should have had five or seven or nine more years of ticking along pretty happily with family visits periodically and a reasonable quality of life.

Her funeral took place yesterday. I watched it over the internet.

COVID impact.

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