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It was the last thing Al Braccolino, 90, of Crown Point, told one of his daughters as paramedics loaded him into an ambulance Nov. 16. COVID-19 forced him into the final fight of his life.
Ten days later, the chair Al usually occupied at the Thanksgiving table would sit empty. The husband to his wife of 70 years, father of three and grandfather of six died on the holiday.
Al’s daughter, Sandra Noe, was herself suffering from COVID-19, which she contracted while caring for her sick parents, when the virus forced Al’s hospitalization.
Noe, 66, is no stranger to helping elderly shut-ins weather isolation.
As executive director at Meals on Wheels of Northwest Indiana, Noe oversees the delivery of life-sustaining food to about 1,600 people every day.
But on Nov. 6, Noe and her sister began providing life-sustaining care for their parents, Al and Marge Braccolino, after the elderly couple fell ill with the coronavirus.
Marge, 89, who already suffers from Alzheimer’s disease, weathered the virus without serious symptoms, Noe said.
But Al, 90, took a sharp turn for the worse when his blood-oxygen levels plummeted, Noe said.
It was a nightmare come true for Noe.
“When we first began seeing the effects of the virus in this country back in March, I thought my worst nightmare would be having to put one of my parents in an ambulance and then never see them again,” Noe said.
“Now I’m living that nightmare.”
Noe said she is maddened by the lack of urgency so many in our society are giving to such a deadly virus.
“I see people every day who aren’t paying attention,” said Noe, referring to people who don’t wear protective masks, who creep up too closely on one another in public or who otherwise are going about life as if precaution and social distancing weren’t the orders of the day.