Daughter of veteran who died of COVD shares respect for his other ‘family’ at Thomson-Hood
Published 1:10 pm Wednesday, January 6, 2021
John Payne was an Air Force veteran who served during the Korean War and whose final battle was against an unseen enemy, but he wasn’t alone in that fight. He had some good people at his side, according to his daughter, Kathleen Cox.
Payne, 89, was among the 34 residents of Thomson-Hood Veterans Center who lost their lives this year to COVID-19. But his daughter doesn’t blame the employees of the veterans home. On the contrary, after experiencing how they cared for her father, she has nothing but admiration and respect for them.
In a letter to the “Thomson-Hood family” that she wrote after her father passed away on Nov. 7, she called them “soldiers in the army of the Lord,” who showed up every day to fight an “evil” disease..
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Cox was with her father in his last days and got to witness firsthand the care he was given.
“It was like walking into what I would, respectfully, refer to as a war zone. The Thomson-Hood family of soldiers fighting an unknown enemy on behalf of all the veterans who had done the same for them a long time ago. Sacrificing and moving forward with a strength and courage that only comes from deep within the soul. I had a clearer vision of your commitment than I ever had before I came to understand, that same commitment was always there from the very first day I moved my father into his new home” nearly four years ago, Cox wrote.
In a phone interview Tuesday, she described his caregivers as “saints” who not only did the work they were supposed to do, but also honored him, loved him, and prayed for him.
She said she believes they did everything they could have done for him.
Cox, who has worked in health care for 25 years, carefully chose Thomson-Hood for the care of her father, who had Alzheimer’s.
“My whole journey from the day I moved my father in there was a spiritual journey. I was angry and confused … but it was a journey of growth for me,” she said. “These people that work there do it because it is a calling.”
Maybe not every one. Some people do it because it’s just a job, but most of them were dedicated to the patients and their families, she said.
And that commitment continued until the end.
In her letter, she said that after he passed and she followed his flag-draped body, she realized, “they were all standing, still honoring my father for the last time here on earth.”
Even though the staff members were “stretched beyond anything I could possibly imagine,” if she phoned the home in the middle of the night, someone was there.
“They were always present … and there for me and my father,” she said. “They went above and beyond their call of duty because that’s who they are.”