Klamath Falls resident Jack Depew has been through a lot over the course of the last few weeks.
Depew, 69, sat out front of his apartment Wednesday, looking at a framed photo of he and his wife Mary from their wedding day nine years ago. Wednesday marked one week since she died, due to complications caused by COVID-19. Mary also suffered from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) that, coupled with COVID-19, impacted her lungs and kidneys. Thursday marked his last day of quarantine as he recovers from COVID-19 as well.
In the photo, Jack and Mary wore matching purple to celebrate their civil ceremony wedding, attended by a small group of family and friends.
“She wanted purple so I had to go down and get me a purple shirt,” Depew said.
Depew recalled how the couple met in 2010 while he was playing pool at Chicken ‘n Cheers.
He was setting up his shot when Mary, always one for a good laugh, came over to cause a little lighthearted trouble.
“She walked up and bumped my pool stick on purpose,” he said. “She had a sense of humor … That’s how we met.”
Humor not only brought them together but it was also how they stuck together to fight COVID-19.
Depew, who has six stents in his heart and is also being treated for Prostate cancer, was the first to get tested at the urging of staff during his radiation treatment.
His symptoms included shortness of breath. The diagnosis left him in shock.
“It scared me,” Depew said. “I didn’t know what to do.”
Not long after his diagnosis, Mary, 73, started noticing symptoms, but much different than his. Her body ached and she was running a fever around 100 degrees Fahrenheit.
The couple had separate rooms at the hospital but after a couple of days, the staff allowed them to sit together in Mary’s room during the day.
“We got to sit and talk and watch TV,” he said.
They even sat together while both had IVs put into their arms.
“I told her, ‘We’re having our IV dinner today,’” Depew said. “Then she started laughing.”
By her side
After he was released from the hospital, the pair were separated for a few days because she could not have visitors. As the virus progressed, that changed.
Since Depew also had COVID-19, he was allowed to sit near her hospital bed. Doctors allowed him in the room only because he had already contracted the virus.
“She grabbed my hand and said, ‘I’m not going to make it,’” Depew said.
He was by her side as her COPD worsened because her lungs, impacted by COVID-19, could not provide enough oxygen. Her kidneys failed. She soon passed away.
Depew praises the nurses and staff in the Intensive Care Unit at Sky Lakes Medical Center who cared for them both, and especially for Mary.
“I want to thank them from the bottom of my heart,” Depew said. “They are the ones that are on the (front) line,” he added.
Impacted by the death of his wife, Depew is now on a mission to spread awareness about the importance of wearing masks.
“Every store we went to, we didn’t wear a mask,” Depew said. “We should’ve wore a mask.
The couple would’ve celebrated 10 years of marriage in October.
Depew plans to gather with a small group of family members in mid-August to spread his wife’s ashes and remember her life — one lost too soon.
“This stuff is no joke,” Depew said. “You’ve got to really take it seriously. People don’t want to and that’s the problem. I didn’t take it seriously, and what happened? I lost somebody I love.”