Campbellsburg, Indiana, household grieves after three coronavirus deaths
Nicholas Applegate lost three family members to the coronavirus last week, but the Campbellsburg man is not alone in mourning.
His family has been an integral part of the southern Indiana city for decades. And this community is in mourning this week after Applegate’s father, grandmother and aunt died last week from complications from the coronavirus.
“I received over 200 messages on Facebook Messenger that read,” Hey, your father did my mother’s funeral, “or” Your father did my father’s funeral, “” Applegate said on Tuesday. “And all they said was, ‘Your father loved our family in ways we never thought possible in our darkest times.'”
Applegate’s father, Jim, pastored Westview Christian Church for 21 years before passing away on December 20, just two weeks after the 54-year-old man tested positive for COVID-19.
Hours later, Pat Applegate – Jim’s mother and Nicholas’ grandmother – died of complications from the coronavirus. And COVID-19 killed MaryJane Applegate, Jim’s sister, on Christmas Eve.
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“Our community is hurting right now,” said Nicholas Applegate, Westview youth minister. “We are a small town. You go to the local hardware store or the gas station or even walk through the McDonald’s driveway, they know who I am and they know what we’ve been through. “
The trio did not contract the coronavirus at the same time. Applegate said family members haven’t gathered since January. And while Nicholas had reservations about measures to combat the pandemic – he has helped churches stay open, he said, and at one point was suspicious of vaccines – Applegate family members have made sure to always wear masks and bring hand sanitizer to have.
Still, the coronavirus, which has been cited as the cause of death of 7,703 Hoosiers and more than 300,000 people nationally since Tuesday, hit the family hard.
Applegate, 26, also tested positive for COVID-19 last month. As a young man with no major health problems, he said he had a sore throat and lost his sense of taste for four days, but had felt no other symptoms and has since made a full recovery.
Others in his family weren’t so lucky.
Jim Applegate was overweight and liked to eat, his son said, and had suffered stage 4 kidney failure a year earlier. He was able to walk when he got to the hospital in mid-December just days after he lost his sense of taste and tested positive, but two days after checking in he was on a ventilator. His kidneys didn’t give him any problems in the hospital until the last day, his son said, when they “just stopped working in the end”.
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Pat Applegate has also struggled with kidney failure in recent years. As an 82-year-old woman, she had told family members to be kept off dialysis if their condition ever got worse. She was never ventilated, said her grandson – “She has just made the decision that she is ready to go home and be with Jesus.”
With 59-year-old MaryJane Applegate, however, the story was a little different.
“That was a shock, to be honest, because we didn’t think she was that sick,” said Nicolas Applegate. “… She had a talk with us before going on the ventilator and talking about how scared she was. She knew she was going to be put on the ventilator. She wasn’t passed out or anything.”
It was a difficult Christmas for Applegate and other family members.
But he said there are lessons in his family’s tragic history.
Fellowship is important, and he still believes churches should be allowed to stay open, but masks should be required and other steps must be taken to protect those attending services. And as coronavirus vaccines become more readily available, everyone should queue up.
“It might not affect a young man like me, but it 100% affects a man who is older or has underlying problems,” he said. “We have to love these people, and we have to love them by putting on a mask and doing our best to protect them.
“Listen to the pros and just use common sense about this virus – because it is serious.”
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Lucas Aulbach can be reached at [email protected], 502-582-4649 or on Twitter @LucasAulbach.