Bring back my Bonney to me

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Tragic story relating to Covid 19

 

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Bring back my Bonney to me
I write this with such a heavy heart but am doing so before the smallest of details escape me.
Bonney, my wife of 50 years went to a Christmas party in Quitman, Ga. to meet her brother and 4 sisters at the nursing home to celebrate with their 101-year-old mother, what may be her last Christmas. On the way home, Bonney stopped by her sister Mary Lou’s for a short visit. As is the family custom, Bonney gathered a couple boxes of produce from Mary Lou and her husband’s packing plant, so that we could enjoy fresh produce for a change.
Bonney always brought home more than enough to feed us. Tomatoes, bell peppers, squash and the like. The overabundance she shared with a close-knit group of her friends and my sister Glenda.
My son Julius and Bonney went to Glenda’s house to deliver the fresh veggies and to check up on my sister, who we had heard wasn’t feeling well. My sister Glenda age 79 had been having colds and sickness off and on for a few months. Glenda didn’t answer the door. Julius tried to get his mom to leave, maybe she is taking a nap, we shouldn’t wake her.
Bonney was concerned though and wouldn’t leave, not until she made sure that my sister was alright. As luck would have it, Glenda was not alright, she was really sick and had been in the bed for a week.
Bonney and Julius hugged her neck. Glenda told them she had been to the doctor only a few days before and that his office assured her it was just a bad cold. Before they left, Bonney and Julius made Glenda promise to go back to the doctor and get a second opinion.
Medi-Care insurance providers can mean a lot. They determine which hospital gets your business. Glenda went to Shands Hospital, a place that she knew and sometimes hated, but they were nearby, making them more convenient.
We tried to visit but were told no. We kept seeing pics that my niece Reva was posting on Facebook with her Granny, who seemed to be smiling in the pics. We were told that she had Covid, that made us wonder how Reva was allowed in to visit and take pics.
After 5 days at Shands Glenda unhooked her I-V, disconnected from the tubes put on her slippers and left without so much as a by your leave. She wore just the hospital nightgown and slippers and checked herself out of the hospital. When she got home, she told everyone that she shared a room with a black woman, that along with the black nurse had been hateful to her the whole time she was there, making her life miserable. She just couldn’t take it anymore. So, she gathered herself up and just left.
Everyone was glad to see her home, but she was still sick. After 5 days at home, she went to the ER at Bapt. Hospital North on Dunn Ave. The Emergency Room was filled with people that were sick and miserable, just like Glenda. They admitted her and sent her to Baptist Hospital South.
During this time, Bonney, my wife of 50 years this April, started coming down with what she thought was a cold. It was a gradual decline.
For the previous few months, I had been advocating to Bonney and Glenda both to get vaccinated. Like what can it hurt, you know. Trying to set a good example I got vaccinate twice and showed them that there weren’t any lingering side effects. Every time a news story came on the TV about Covid or vaccine mandates, Bonnie would mute the sound or turn the channel. They were both avid Trump supporters. They knew in their hearts that this whole Covid and vaccine status was just a hoax, nothing more than the common flu. I told Bonnie that if she got flu shots, she should get Covid shots. My logic fell on deaf ears.
To say that Bonney and Glenda had underlying conditions is putting it mildly. Bonney also had R/A, low blood pressure and allergies to name a few. Glenda smoke two packs of cigarettes a day for more than 60 years and had minor heart problems.
The Bapt. Hosp. North is less than a mile from our home. Bonney and our son Julius have a special bond, he wanted to be the one to take his mother to the hospital to get her checked out. The hospital ER was packed, filled to capacity, overflowing. After about 5 hours she was put in a room while they run some test on her. Julius was tired, it was really late, she sent him home and told him she would call, after all, the hospital was less than a couple minutes away. Hours later, Bonney called me to come get her. I was there in just a few minutes. She told me that she had Covid, they gave her a prescription for anit-biotics and told her that if she wasn’t feeling better in a few days, she should go to a hospital.
Three days later, Julius takes his mom to downtown Baptist. The ER was over filled with coughing gagging patients waiting for their turn to be admitted. Julius was told to go home. Bonney called us about 8 hours later, telling us that she had been sitting in a closet in the ER for about 10 hours, waiting for a room to come available upstairs.
She was moved from room to room, floor to floor. We weren’t allowed to see her, we could call but she could barely talk on the phone, with the air hose taped to her nostrils. She told us that the nurses in the ER were really mean and hateful. That’s just what Glenda had told us about her experience. Bonney told me that the nurses on the first floor she went to, weren’t very friendly and as she went from room to room and floor to floor, they gradually got worse.
We found out after much questioning and many phone calls why she was being moved around so much. He oxygen levels were decreasing. The amount of oxygen she required was too much for certain rooms. Finally, she was moved to ICU, where she could receive max air.
You know, it seems to me that higher floors you go up at the hospital, the meaner the nurses got. Bonnie complained everyday about how callous and just mean spirited the nurses were. It was really hard to get straight answers from the nurses. We would call for updates. We were told that the nurse was on her rounds, call back in an hour or leave your number. We waited for hours for a call. Seems like they changed shifts and the nurse that was supposed to call us back had gone home.
My son Julius would stop at the hosp. every morning on his way to work and every evening on his way home. He would get conflicting stories from different nurses. Her health steadily declined. At first, we were allowed to go the window in the ICU and was able to talk to her on the phone. She said she was starving; we took her favorite foods. When we tried to visit, the nurses were flippant, evasive and tried to rush us out.
My Bonney was one of the most well-liked persons I have ever met. If someone was acting mean to her, the problem is with them, not her. She always had a big smile for everyone. She never carried a grudge. That is, until she met the nurses at Baptist Hospital.
In the meanwhile, we got a call from Baptist Hosp. South where my sister Glenda was. It seems she was tired of the oxygen tubes in her nose, she was tired of the IV’s, she couldn’t stand for anything to touch her. She told them she was ready to meet Jesus, tore out her tubes, snatched off her clothes and refused to wear a mask. We were told we could see her one last time, but we’d better hurry, she wouldn’t last long.
This is hard for me to recreate, in my mind, it will stay forever, but just bringing up the words to put in print is hard for me to do. Still, their story must be told.
As I entered the Baptist Hospital South, I walked past the Emergency Room. It was overflowing, sick people just sitting or standing everywhere, they seemed like zombies by their posture and pallor. I was able to go straight to the ICU to see Glenda one last time. The ICU nurse, was nice, very nice. I won’t mention her name because she might get fired just for being nice. She told us to suit up with the protective clothing and allowed us, sometimes 3 or 4, sometimes 5 or 6 and sometimes more, to visit.
I looked down at her, lying on the bed, stark naked, sleeping like a baby with a grin from ear to ear. Someone explained to me that she kept tearing the sheets off of her and pulling off her oxygen mask, even though she was sedated. When I saw the grin on her face, it came to me. That was the first thing I ever remember seeing. I pictured my big sister holding me on her hip, with one arm wrapped around me, with that grin, from ear to ear. She carried me everywhere. She changed my diapers, got me dressed and tied my shoes. Now she’s lying there, butt ass naked, fixing to go out the same way she came in.
My family members all agreed that the smile on her face is because she’s crossing the bridge and can see who is waiting for her.
The nurse showed us her chest x ray. Oooh, it was terrible. There were hundreds of little black spots, that she said were flakes of dried blood that puddles up in the lungs, and oh the smoking part looked bad, but the nurse said it isn’t what brought her down. Any one of the dried flakes of blood could break off and be a blood clot, straight to the heart.
I didn’t want to just stand there and watch her die, I left the room to make room for some of the other family members that were present. When we all get together, there’s a bunch of us. Glenda left this world peaceably. God Bless her, may she rest in peace.
That afternoon, when I saw Bonney through the glass at the ICU, she asked me how Glenda was doing. At this time, Bonnie looked like she was doing okay. I didn’t want to upset her. I told her that Glenda was fighting it just like you are, she’s ready to go home.
I’ve seen that look she gave me before. I don’t think she believed me. She begged me to get her some fruit and some chicken nuggets. When Julius brought them back, she was sleeping. He gave them to the nurse.
The next day, the nurse allowed us a window visit, Me, Julius, Duane and Ava. Bonney was sitting up, but she looked unsteady. She was acting kinda perked up, she was in a good mood, then Bonney pointed at the male nurse and said, that’s the one that gave me the morphine. He kinda tried to duck out of the way, but Bonney kept calling him back. Dr. Feelgood is what she called him. He said the head nurse told him we were coming and for him to put some morphine drips in her mouth. That way she would be feeling good and not feeling any pain.
Hearing morphine, set off a siren in my head. They don’t give you morphine just for a visit, but still we had a nice 15 minute visit and promised to bring back this and that, and oh yeah, some puzzles.
The next evening, we go to ICU for another visit. If the only view of her that we could get was looking through a window, then we were ready to take it. A different Bonney this time. We were told that she is refusing to cooperate with the nurse’s demands. She wouldn’t roll over on her side, she wouldn’t sit up and she wouldn’t take her meds. She was out of it, moaning and struggling to keep the oxygen tube in her nose. We asked the male nurse, a different one this time what happened to her pain medication that she was on. He said that he had given it to her already. Julius asked him if had given her morphine again. The nurse pretended to look at her charts and said no, she doesn’t have morphine on her list of meds. He had given her something else.
The feeling of despair was overwhelming. Julius was more than willing to go in her room and coax her into taking her meds, but the nurses wouldn’t allow it. We knew that Bonney couldn’t hardly swallow a pill at home, she had to break pills up in pieces and take ingest them slowly, but we felt like the nurses were too busy to spend more than an allotted amount of time with each patient.
The next morning as I’m getting ready to call for an update, we get a call from the Baptist Hospital. It’s the nurse in ICU. Bonney can’t maintain her oxygen level high enough to live, even with their help. She was already getting max air. The nurse told me that Bonnie says she’s ready to meet Jesus (Where have I heard that before?) and that she doesn’t want to be put on a ventilator. You need to rush down here to sign a permission to let her die slip. I had the call on speaker, Julius and I looked at each other in disbelief. How could this be happening. He and I rushed to the hospital. The nurse had us suit up so we could go in and say goodbye. She told us that Bonnie is ready to go meet Jesus and she does not want to be put on a ventilator. Crafty Julius recorded our conversation on Bonney’s cellphone. We entered the room Bonney acted both relieved and surprised to see us. The first thing she did was look at me through the top of her eyes and said, “I’m sorry.”
I knew what she meant. I told her none of that matters now. I told her that the nurse says that you are ready to go meet Jesus and that you want to die, that you don’t want to be put on a respirator.
Bonney gave me a wild look and said, “That’s a damn lie. I said, Jesus, I want to go home. I told her that I want to be put on the ventilator.” Julius was right next to me still recording. The nurse next to him, when she saw the phone she went ballistic. “It’s against the law to record somebody without their permission.”
I told her that we were recording our conversation and she was just in it that’s all.
That didn’t go over very well with Big Bertha. I say that in jest because she was probably picked for this job because of her size. She disappeared for a minute or two, in the meanwhile Julius pulled off his mask and kissed his mom goodbye. I could tell by the look in her eyes that Bonnie was sensing trouble. I tried to put her at ease, the best I could.
I turned to the nurse that was present and said, I’m not signing nothing. We want you to save her life. Put her on the ventilator.”
Just as soon as I said that, Big Bertha burst through the door and said, “That’s it, you have to leave now, right now.” Bonnie could see the four uniformed security guards, standing by the door. I told her not to worry, we’ll be good. The guards weren’t necessary, we would have left on our own. They were waiting outside the ICU room to escort us out of the building, all the way to the parking lot. We were told we couldn’t come back for 10 days because we had been exposed.
The nurse said she would only have about a 5% chance to live. To me, 5 % is better than zero, our hopes were fading, but we had to pin our them on something.
Glenda had been preparing for her death for 20 years. Her insurance policy was up to date, she paid for her own funeral. Bonney was uninsurable because of her R/A. I was ill prepared for her demise. I knew I had to come up with some money fast. While she was on the ventilator I started hustling money. I drove to Tifton Ga, to deliver a kitten. I met a lady from Birmingham, halfway.
The lady in Birmingham wanted to help us out more, she wanted to me to meet her husband in Tifton again for another kitten. I drove through Moultrie to pick up our son Chris. On the way I drove through Berlin. How many times has Bonney told me to watch my speed going through Berlin. I got a ticket. 78 in a 45. I told the officer my story. I can’t see the speedometer because of the steering wheel. He told me that was going to save me some money and just wrote a ticket for doing 65 in a 45, have a nice day.
Then I drove through Lake Park, Ga. To Mary Lou’s, Bonney’s sister.
Bonney and I had discussed our internment casually. She told me once that if we don’t have the money, just cremate me. I told her that we had the two plots that Dad left me. You don’t have to worry about that, I will take care of everything. You are going to be buried near my parents and I will be buried right by your side.
I told Mary Lou that the cemetery required over 4000, just to dig the hole and cover it up. They wanted all of their money up front. Mary Lou stepped up like a champ. She said that Bonney was her sister, she wanted to help. God gave her that money and she wanted to spend it on her sister.
Mary Lou gave me $5,000 to get started. I told her that I could come up with the Funeral Home money. Ellis the funeral home director buried my sister just days before. He told me not to worry, he could wait for his money. Oh what a relief, just knowing that someone had my back took some of the pressure off.
Then I found out about the FEMA Covid relief money. My son Duane told me that his friend’s family had just received money from his Dad’s death about 6 months ago. I checked into it online. What I gathered is that if the death certificate says Covid, you are eligible to be reimbursed for funeral expenses, up to $9000.00. That doesn’t cover the plot and is for uninsured deaths. The bad part is, it takes almost two forevers to get it.
When I got home, the bad news was waiting for me. The nurse called and said she wasn’t responding on the ventilator, that it was time to let her go. Julius wasn’t allowed back in the hospital, my sons, Michael, Chris and Duane, with his daughter Ava met Bonney’s sisters Betty Sue and Opal and Betty’s daughters at the ICU. It was decided that only two could go in there and watch her die. We were told that she could hear. We all had something we wanted to say to her. Duane pitched a fit. He said there is no way I’m not going in there. Finally, she checked with her superior and they changed it to four people. Michael volunteered to let Opal, Bonney’s oldest sister to go in his place.
It was hard, too hard. My wife of 50 years, struggling to breathe after they pulled the tubes. She never regained consciousness. She gasped for air like a fish out of water for about two or three minutes and then at 6:51 she left this world. I know my sister was waiting for her. She was at peace. She went without me. I told her before she passed that she trusted me to take care of her and I let her down. I kept racking my brain for something I could have said to her that would have convinced her to get the vaccine. I promised her that I would see to it that she had a proper funeral.
The aftermath is still unfolding, like bad news it never stops.
The next morning my son Chris and I went to the funeral home to pay the fee. For 4100 they open the ground supply the vault and cover the hole. One thing though, they don’t accept cash. I went to Walmart down the street to buy money orders. I gave the lady 4100 cash and she starts preparing the money orders. After the first two one-thousand-dollar money orders were printed out, the machine jammed. We waited and waited for someone with the key to unlock the machine. It was also connected to the cash register. I had to wait an hour for someone else to come an unlock the cash register.
While we were waiting, Chris decided to get his vaccination, just like his brothers and Ava did to honor Bonney. The last thing that brought a smile on her face, was the boys telling her they had been vaccinated. There was a waiting period, I left Chris to get his shot, while I went and paid the cemetery. I had to wait over and hour for them to take my money orders and give me a receipt.
Typically, it was a gloomy and rainy day, how fitting.
Chris and I went to the Callahan Funeral Home. I gave Ellis $2000 up front so he would have enough money to buy a casket and a hundred dollar tip to make sure that everything went smoothly. I promised him that I would pay the balance as quick as I could.
That being done, we went tried to find a florist opened on Sat. to buy the flowers for her funeral. The one in Callahan was closed, but my friend Scotty McCall’s Dinsmore Florist was open. Everyone that knew Bonney knows that she loved flowers. I ordered a thousand dollar’s worth. Money well spent. It helped with the closure.
We started receiving gifts of food, flowers, cards and cash. No, I didn’t ask for it. The kindness and friendship of our friends and family was overwhelming.
Bonnie passed Thursday evening. I made the arrangements for a Monday funeral. It was like pulling teeth, to make it happen. We held the viewing in Callahan on Sunday evening. Family members I expected to see, but our neighbors and friends showed up to pay their respects. I was touched.
I didn’t expect a large turnout for Bonney’s funeral. Afterall, her death was due to Covid. No one wants to take a chance to run into someone who might be infected, yet her family showed up in large numbers. They had to drive 3 and 4 hours to get there. My family was there, some drove a hundred miles or more and friends, where are they coming from? I was so grateful to see them. Bonney had a proper send off. Mary Lou brought her preacher from Lake Park, she said a few words, Our son, Duane got up and spoke, Opal and her husband Billy sang a few songs and Duane played a recording of Ava singing a goodbye song to her granny. It was touching.
Bonney had a proper send off. She would have been proud. I kept my promise to her, I took as good a care of her as I could, ’til the end. After 50 years, my life is broken.
Now, it’s time to pick up the pieces.
I had been posting our story on my Facebook page. The best way I knew to reach as many people as I could. If I could just convince one person to get vaccinated, then Bonney didn’t die in vain.
At first, the prayers and well wishes started trickling in, then someone opened the gates. I have been flooded with prayers, well wishes and acts of kindness. I’ve never felt so humble. Good folks started buying kittens from me right and left, to help out. One customer came all the way from Lima, Peru.
Through the acts of kindness of many people, I was able to reach my goal. I am going to the funeral home Friday to pay them off. By this act, I hope to achieve a final closure. With Bonney and my sister leaving us at the same time, we were without a woman’s touch. The choices I made, I did alone. I could have used a steady hand on my shoulder, but I couldn’t pick up the phone and ask my sister for help anymore and the woman that has sat next to me every evening watching TV, five feet away is gone forever.
We all grieve in different ways. Bonney’s legacy besides her children and grandchildren, is her flowers. She has flowers everywhere. I pledge to keep them up, to my best ability. The freeze killed off quite a few, but the ones that are left will give me a start and I intend to do what Bonney did every year, replace the dead flowers with fresh ones.
Bonney had a big heart, she loved everybody. She had a smile for everyone. These words were spoken by Mary Lou at the funeral. "If you ever met her, you loved her and she loved you."


Submitted: February 05, 2022

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