SEDRO-WOOLLEY, Wash. (AP) – With dish soap, brushes and a jug of plastic water in hand, Carole Roy Woodmansee’s four children cleaned up their mother’s shares with her father, Jim. Each scrub engraved the letters of his mother’s name and the days of his birth and death: March 27, 1939 and March 27, 2020.
Carroll died on his 81st birthday.
That morning was marked by a year since he died of complications of COVID-19 during a choir rehearsal, which sickened 53 people and killed two – a superspreader incident One of the most decisive broadcast episodes to understand the virus would become.
For the siblings, after an epidemic staged their mourning, there was a chance to close on the occasion of some anniversary. They were eventually caught remembering their mother’s footprint in the community.
“The most difficult thing is that there was no goodbye. It was like she had vanished, ”said Wendy Jensen, Carroll’s youngest child.
After cleaning, the siblings reminisce. He says his father should be happy to be back with his wife of 46 years. He thanks her for being a good parent and remembers how her mother said “my” before calling her name and other loved ones.
“I was always ‘mine’ Bonnie,” Bonnie Dawson tells her siblings. “I miss ‘my bonnie’.”
“She Dad was missing for a long time, ”says Linda Holman, the eldest brother. His father, Jim, died in 2003.
Of the more than 550,000 people who died of the virus in the United States, Carroll was among the first. She died a few weeks after the first reported outbreak at a nursing home in Kirkland within an hour south of Mount Vernon. Caroline, who survived heart surgery and cancer, had fallen ill at her home. Bonnie cared for them until they called paramedics.
“You’re trying to say goodbye to your mom, and they’re asking you to bring her back. It was a very tough, emotional … shout out to ‘I love you, Mom’, because she was our Knocking the door with the men standing 10 feet outside in the yard because they didn’t want to be near our house, ” Bonnie said.
The rehearsal of Skagit Valley Chorley, a community choir made up mostly of retirees and not attached to the church where they practiced, took place two weeks earlier. The choir took precautions known at the time, such as distancing themselves and cleaning up. But someone had a virus.
“The choir called us directly, and they left a voicemail. The voicemail said that a positive person in the choir, 24 people are now ill,” Lee Hamner, Skagit County Public Health led by Communicable Disease and Epidemiology. Asked. “It was immediately clear that we had a major problem.”
Hamner and his team went to work interviewing a total of 122 people, with the choir, often infrequently, and with whom they came in contact after practice. They pied together in the evening, tracking things where people were sitting and who were eating cookies or stacked chairs.
The level of access and expansion among outbreak investigations is rare, Hamner said, so when cases arose in the county a few weeks later, she sat down to write the report.
“There was a lot of resistance to calling it an airborne disease,” said Hamer. “But we have found this middle ground of the disease that can be both a droplet and aerial. So that was a big shift. After the paper, the CDC started accepting aerial broadcasts.”
The outbreak had gained notoriety following a Los Angeles Times article, prompting other researchers to study the incident, further reinforcing the conclusion that the virus traveled in the air during rehearsal.
Virginia Tech professor and airborne transmission expert Lynsey Marr said, “I think its outbreak has been seen in the choir … as a phenomenon that brings the idea to people that the virus can spread in the air is.” Marr was among 239 experts who successfully lobbied the World Health Organization to change its guidelines on transmission.
The other person who died from choir practice was 83-year-old Nancy “Nikki” Hamilton. Originally hailing from New York, Hamilton settled north of Seattle in the 1990s. She Put a personal advertisement in the Everett Herald, and that’s how she met her husband.
“We got down at the bowling alley in Everett,” said 85-year-old Victor Hamilton. “We picked it up from there.”
Hamilton could not build a memorial for her. His family is spread across the country, and if possible he wants to keep it in New York City. He eyes his eyes on June 21.
In nearby Mount Vernon, family and friends stream to the Radius Church, staring at the installation of a few dozen photos of Carol that the siblings put together. Wendy also displayed her daughter’s quilt using Carroll’s music camp t-shirt.
Pastor Ken Hubbard told attendees that the service is not actually a funeral, but a memorial, a chance to share stories about Carol.
“I’m pretty sure his prayers saved my life once or twice,” says grandson David Woodmansee.
Loved ones remember Carroll’s devotion to his family, faith, and music. Others remember how he welcomed him into his family, taught piano, and volunteered for his church.
They sing his favorite hymn “Blessed Assurance”. Its lyrics were among his last words to hospital children.
After the service, the family returns to the cemetery to lay flowers. They sing again, filling the day with a spontaneous, smiling “happy birthday”.
Later, Wendy reflected on the singing practice, where her mother contracted the virus, given the knowledge gained from it that helped advance preventive measures.
“As far as we know, that was God’s plan, for him to help in this.”
Bonnie said, “I think my mother would be willing to give her life to save her life.”