Adrian Hummel was about to celebrate his granddaughter’s fourth birthday when Covid-19 swept through the household.
A pink banner reading “Happy Birthday” and pictures of Elsa from the movie “Frozen” still hangs in the living room of his Jacksonville home, where Adrian was sitting last week sorting various items to decide what to keep and what to keep wanted to get rid of from now on he lives alone.
Adrian, his wife Pamela Hummel and their daughter Judy Stofferhan were all infected with Covid-19 in January. All three were hospitalized with the disease. Pamela, 60, died on February 7th and Judy, 36, died on February 12th.
“I’m the only one here in Arkansas,” said Adrian. “I am all alone.”
Judy’s daughter Sophia now lives with other family members, and Adrian, 59, says he calls the girl almost every day. He regards Judy as his daughter. When they first met, she hugged him and said, “Welcome to our family, Dad.”
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He and Pamela met online in early 2007 on a now-defunct dating site. When they first spoke, they spoke for two hours. When they met, his father had a stroke.
When he called Pam to tell her the doctors said his father didn’t have long to live, she said she would be on the next greyhound bus from her Pennsylvania home to Arkansas. He greeted her with purple irises and a teddy bear.
His father died shortly after they arrived and the two have been together ever since. They were married in a small after-church ceremony in November 2007.
Adrian says he was drawn to Pam’s honesty. The two also had a lot in common – a love of cooking and a penchant for blue cheese dressing. Pam worked for a Burger King for years, some time as a manager.
“We matched more and more,” he said.
Judy lived with the couple all the years. Adrian remembers 2016 as their best year together because, after years of struggling, Pam finally helped him access the benefits of his veterans. That year Judy also became pregnant with Sophia.
Adrian remembers the minute the night the baby was born – at 2:46 a.m. after a long labor. Pam went to Judy and called Adrian with the good news.
Judy had taken online classes to get her bachelor’s degree in psychology. When Judy graduated, the family held a ceremony for her in the back yard.
“Judy was a smart young lady,” said Adrian. “She knew I really did care about her.”
The family of four were all living together in Jacksonville when they contracted Covid-19. Judy started complaining about headaches first. As the disease progressed, she began to have difficulty breathing and was hospitalized in late January.
Pam’s symptoms soon appeared. She was “out of it” and could barely stand, so she asked Adrian to call 911. An ambulance took her to the hospital.
Adrian was the next to be hospitalized. When he arrived he asked about his wife and daughter. On that first visit, he spent about 45 minutes in each of her rooms. “Just talk like everything is normal.”
He saw Pam again shortly before she died. Judy died just days after her mother.
Adrian was hospitalized for 14 days, released, relapsed and had to return. He has spent several days in a rehab facility and is still not feeling well. He mourns his family as he recovers from the long-term effects of the illness that killed them.
He has lost nearly 40 pounds in the past few months and has no sense of taste. He misses the human connection and shares his life with someone.
He got his vaccine and felt relieved, but only partially, he said.
“Why couldn’t you have it a little earlier?” he said. “My family could still be alive.”