A father sees his son for the final time through a pane of glass at a Lewiston nursing home

click to enlarge A father sees his son for the final time through a pane of glass at a Lewiston nursing home
Brenda Spears photo
Jack Spears, 93, seeing his son for the last time.

Monty Spears didn't know it at the time, but the last time he'd see his father would be through the window at the Life Care Center of Lewiston.

"I told him I Ioved him and he told me that he loved all of his kids," Monty Spears says. "It was really painful because we couldn't go to him, and we knew he was sick."

Monty's wife, Brenda, took a picture of the last conversation they had in person. Jack Spears died 11 days later of COVID-19, on April 6. He was 93. Jack's wife, Velma, also lives the Life Care Center and is battling the virus. She's 96.

Multiple residents and staff have reportedly been infected with COVID-19 at the Life Care Center of Lewiston, but the center isn't releasing more information on how many cases have been confirmed. The center did not respond to an Inlander inquiry this week. Carol Moehrle, director of the North Central District Health Department covering Lewiston, says she "does not know those numbers at all" specific to the facility. In Nez Perce County, where facility is located, there have been 46 confirmed cases and 13 deaths.

Jack, a Navy veteran, worked as a mechanic before retiring in 1987. His wife passed away of cancer in 1991. Jack, according to his obituary written by Monty, "became almost reclusive" following his wife's death.

Seven years later, he married Velma and the two enjoyed their home in Grangeville until October 2018, when Jack's Alzheimer's worsened and they were taken to the Life Care facility of Lewiston.

Monty says he heard that the first person got sick at the facility sometime in mid-March. It was on the same floor that Jack and Velma were staying. Several residents on that floor got the virus, too, Monty says.

"I think they secluded a lot of them on that floor," Monty says.

When Monty went to visit his dad on March 27, the last time he saw him, Jack wasn't feeling great. But Monty couldn't really tell from the other side of the window what his condition was.

"It was a couple of days later that he started getting sick and laying down and couldn't move at all," Monty says.

A few days after that, he went into a coma. He died shortly after.

Velma is still sick. But Monty is hoping she'll be able to recover.

"My brother talked to her today and he said she sounded stronger and the nurse said she was eating a little bit," Monty says. "But she really lost a lot of weight."

Monty says the nurses and people taking care of Jack and Velma have been "extremely kind" and they've done everything they can.

He'll always remember the last time he spoke to his dad.

"He said he was doing OK," Monty says. "But he sure wanted to get out of there. He wanted a milkshake." 

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About The Author

Wilson Criscione

Wilson Criscione is the Inlander’s news editor. Aside from writing and editing investigative news stories, he enjoys hiking, watching basketball and spending time with his wife and cat.