VOICES: Vote. Local man’s mom died of coronavirus before she could

This guest column by Oakwood photographer Bill Franz will appear on the Ideas and Voices page Friday, Oct. 2.

When my parents were first married, they didn’t take the time to vote one year.

My grandfather was upset. “I don’t want to hear any complaining from the two of you. If you didn’t vote, it must be because you think everything is perfect just the way it is.”

From then on my parents voted every year, but they never told me how they voted because “that’s personal.”

Eventually, in her 90′s, my mother Betty moved to a nursing home and stopped voting because “that’s for the younger people to do.”

“At my mother's graveside ceremony no one called the pandemic a hoax and everyone wore a mask."

- Bill Franz

For the last six months of her life, the pandemic made my mother’s life smaller. She couldn’t have any visitors and we couldn’t take her out to lunch or shopping.

Credit: Bill Franz

Credit: Bill Franz

Her only contact with the outside world was my brother. He would come to her window and talk to her on the phone. He brought corn to put on her windowsill for the squirrels to eat. Sometimes I’d call and mom would tell me that the squirrels were on her windowsill waiting for my brother to show up.

Mom knew that it wasn’t just her world that was getting smaller. She read two newspapers and watched the news and knew that the whole country was in trouble. She decided that she needed to start voting again.

As it turns out, mom won’t be voting after all. She died on August 28. She was healthy for someone in her 90′s, but she was no match for COVID-19. It took only a week to go from her first symptoms to her positive test to her death.

More than 207,000 people have died of the virus in this nation, according to the Centers for Disease Control.

Somehow our attitudes about this pandemic have gotten wrapped up in our politics, but there are no politics at a COVID-19 funeral.

At my mother’s graveside ceremony no one called the pandemic a hoax and everyone wore a mask.

In retirement I’ve become a photographer, and for the last seven years I’ve posted a photo every morning on my Facebook page called “Dayton at Work and Play.” I agree with my mother that the country is in trouble and that the first step towards fixing things is voting. In my mother’s honor I am posting an image about voting every day until Nov. 3.

VOTE - A message from my mother who recently died of Covid-19

Posted by Dayton at Work and Play on Thursday, October 1, 2020

I hope these images move some people to vote. I also hope some people follow the lead of my grandfather and tell friends that if they don’t vote they should never complain, because people who don’t vote must think the world is perfect just the way it is.

Bill Franz is a former engineer and business consultant. In retirement the Oakwood resident bought a camera, learned how to use it, and became a volunteer photographer for local organizations. His 96-year-old mother Betty Franz died of COVID-19 Aug. 28 in Napoleon, Ohio. Guest columns are submitted or requested fact-based opinion pieces typically of 300 to 450 words. Have an idea? Contact Amelia Robinson at arobinson@daytondailynews.com.

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