It is with profound sadness that I say that my mother passed away earlier this week due to complications from COVID-19.
She fought for 30 days, two weeks on a ventilator at Rochester General Hospital in the city where she lived her whole life, and where I was raised.
Mom was 91, but she was not a frail old lady.
She worked from the time she was 14 years old until the late 1980s. She spent 30 years working for Eastman Kodak in Rochester, like just about everyone else from there did.
She lived alone the past two years since dad died, and she drove, she cooked, she cleaned, she gardened, she babysat, heck, she even went to the gym three times a week.
My two older sisters, Lynn and Laurie, and I, don't know how she contracted the virus, but mom was social and did not like to sit home alone.
We sternly warned her many times, especially as the second wave of the virus grew, to stay home. But she was set in her ways and was going to live her life.
She thought that if she wore her mask and carried hand sanitizer, she would be OK, but sadly, that was not the case.
Mom had a lot of life left to live, which makes her death all the more shocking and heartbreaking.
This is a hideous virus and her age was against her, and it took her life in the most cruel way you can imagine.
For my sisters, who also live in the Rochester area, and myself, it was maddeningly frustrating and scary to deal with. Due to COVID restrictions, none of us were able to enter the hospital, not even in the final moments.
With coronavirus cases rising every day not only in our region, but across the state, especially in the Rochester area, traveling to be near her was not practical for myself.
The last thing mom would have wanted was for us to get sick on her account.
So we waited and prayed like so many others have done across our state, nation and globe the past year.
We were able to visit with her on FaceTime a couple times before she went on a ventilator and it was crushing. To see her in such bad shape and to listen to her pleas of wanting to go home was heartbreaking to the point where I don't know if we will ever mend.
Now, we are not sure we can even have any kind of service for her. We come from a large Italian-American family and no doubt, dozens and dozens of aunts, uncles, cousins and friends will want to come pay their respects, but it is just too dangerous.
At the Press-Republican, it has been my job to oversee our coverage of the coronavirus this past year. Our staff has worked tirelessly to keep our community informed of the latest and most important information about the virus on a daily basis.
We of course, will continue to do that.
Unfortunately, the pandemic has become politicized, which is a dirty rotten shame as so many people have been hurt by this.
My mom didn't concern herself too much with politics or journalism for that matter, she just wanted the best for her family, friends and community, and was more worried about what to cook for dinner.
She most assuredly would not want anyone to go through what she went through and what her children, grandchildren and great grandchildren had to experience in watching her suffer.
Mom quite simply was the best person I know, and it does us no good to lay blame for the virus, the way it has been handled or her death while we are in the state of grief.
All I know is that mom deserved better.
So I can't urge everyone enough, please take your efforts to protect yourself and family from this awful virus more seriously than ever.
Trust me, it is real and not something you want in your lives.