CADIZ, Ky. (KT) – Norman Cotton, the pastor of Ponderosa Baptist Church, experienced a personal loss with the death of his mother during the COVID-19 crisis. The kindness of medical staff made an unbearable experience bearable, he said.
In an interview on radio station WKDZ, Cotton said his family’s dark and difficult days through that time were made better by compassion from nurses at both the assisted living facility where his mother had been staying and the local hospital where she eventually died.
Because of the contagiousness of COVID-19, family members weren’t able to be with her in the hospital. But the nurses did what they could.
“I cannot say enough about the staff at Rivers Bend and I cannot say enough about the fourth-floor nurses at Mercy Hospital,” he said. “I wish I knew all their names. I cannot say enough for those people, how they cared for my mother when we couldn’t be there.”
Cotton said his mother was the second resident of the assisted living facility to contract COVID-19. It started with a dry cough and progressed to where she had to be taken to the hospital, and that’s where the family’s contact ended, except through the kindness of the nurses.
“The people on the medical frontlines went way above and beyond what the norm was,” Cotton said. “I’m not sure my sister or me or my brother were ever on the phone with my mother when a nurse wasn’t beside her holding her hand. In (her) latter days, she may have thought we were standing beside her. It was amazing how they made something that seems totally unbearable, they made it bearable.”
As a pastor, Cotton said he has consoled many families over the death of a loved one. But this experience of being isolated from a loved one who was dying was difficult to take.
“For me not to be by my mother’s side, it was hard,” he said, his voice filling with emotion.
The nurses in the hospital set up Zoom calls so Cotton and his siblings could visit their mother. They were able to sing with her and pray with her, he said.
“We sang 'Amazing Grace' – she loves 'Amazing Grace' – but then I asked her if she wanted to sing ‘Jesus Loves Me.’ When you’re maybe on your death bed, the most important thing is to be able to sing that Jesus loves me. It makes a difference. You don’t have to face this with fear and there’s not some unknown end. It’s a known end. She knew what her destination was. She sang it with confidence and boldness.”
And when her son asked her if he could pray with her, she answered with a resounding “Yes!” from behind her mask.
“We were able to let her know we loved her and were able to see her, and those nurses made that happen,” Cotton said. “They got all that connected.”
The pastor said others who have lost loved ones, not including COVID victims, went through a similar experience. “You’re not forgotten by me,” he said. “I know how hard it is.”