Kindred spirits: COVID takes a proud Rhode Island working-class dad and son within an hour of each other – News – The Patriot Ledger, Quincy, MA

The docs advised the household of Dan Remillard, age 43, that his time was at hand. He’d held on for six weeks, usually on a ventilator, however the virus had taken a toll.

As Dan, a working man from Woonsocket, lay unconscious at Rhode Island Hospital, those that knew and beloved him gathered by Zoom to say goodbye. In a testomony to what number of souls Dan had touched, nearly 100 had been on the video name.

There was one notable absence – Dan’s father, Ron Remillard.

Ron too, was gravely in poor health from COVID, in his case, having served in Vietnam, on the Windfall VA Medical Heart.

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As people on the Zoom stated ultimate phrases to Dan, there got here a heartbreaking flip. A VA physician phoned Ron’s spouse to inform her tough information.

Her husband, at age 72, had simply misplaced his battle.

The Zoom by then was nearly over.

Not lengthy after, Dan Remillard’s battle ended too, father and son dying inside an hour of one another, each victims of the pandemic of 2020.


Complete COVID deaths in Rhode Island at the moment are previous 1,000, and 175,000 nationally. The headlines on the virus often give attention to such statistics.

That is the story of two faces behind the numbers – a proud blue-collar father and son who first lived life, after which left it too quickly, the identical means.


It was Dan, the son, who received the virus first.

It started together with his spouse, Liz Remillard, 41, a longtime licensed nursing assistant, now with the Pleasant Residence in Woonsocket. It’s a skilled-care facility with 126 beds. Liz finds it rewarding to assist the aged via their challenges, together with dementia.

She had been out with a foot damage because the pandemic started. Her first week again was in early Might, working the third shift with residents who had COVID.

On Monday, Might 4, she took a routine virus check for staffers and two days later, though she had no indicators, discovered she was constructive.

Liz quarantined herself in a room of their residence, the primary flooring of a Woonsocket two-family. Liz quickly developed average signs together with fatigue, a runny nostril and no scent or style.

Out of warning, Dan, a heavy-equipment operator with the Woonsocket Water Division, additionally locked down at residence.

By that Friday, Might 9, Dan started having signs, too – chills with a light-weight fever. He received examined, and on Sunday Might 10, discovered he had COVID-19.

He quarantined in a room as properly.

The Remillards’ 8-year-old daughter, Avabella, was additionally constructive, however with no signs. Their 17-year-old son, Gavin, examined destructive, and everybody labored to guard him, masking up after they left their rooms.

At first, it appeared like it could simply be a model of the flu.

Then Dan’s signs started to worsen.


Liz and Dan had met by probability in 2001, when she referred to as a tow truck after her automotive broke down. Dan was the driving force. She was 21, and he 23.

As he completed the job, Dan stated, “I hope to see you once more.”

Two weeks later, Liz was arrange on a blind date.

“Hey,” she stated when her date confirmed up, “it’s the tow-truck man.”

Liz beloved his smile instantly, and would be taught Dan was recognized for it. As they started spending time collectively, she discovered him caring and attentive. Daniel Remillard, she determined, was the man.

They married in June of 2006 and now have three youngsters – Avabella; Gavin, who works at a fuel station; and Dilyn, 22, a welder at Electrical Boat.

Liz will inform you the boys received their work ethic from their dad. Dan made his residing driving vehicles, backhoes, excavators and Bobcats. For the final 5 years, he ran heavy gear for the Woonsocket Water Division.

Even when Dan was little, his mother, Dianne Remillard, remembers him enjoying with toy automobiles, and taking issues aside, together with gadgets he shouldn’t have, like a brand new radio.

His dad, Ron, wasn’t too glad about that initially, however over time, father and son bonded over precisely that, usually engaged on automobiles and bikes collectively within the yard.

Dan turned fairly the mechanic, and beloved serving to folks with repairs. His cousin Tammy Chevrette remembers calling him one night whereas he was having dinner to say her automotive wouldn’t begin. Dan stated he was on his means.

No – end consuming, stated Tammy. However he advised her he was leaving proper then. And he did.

That’s the form of pal Dan was.


Ron Remillard had modeled industrial work to his son. For 30 years, Ron was an assembly-line welder on the former Normal Motors plant in Framingham, Massachusetts. After it closed, he moved on to a GM facility sending auto elements to sellers.

Ron might do absolutely anything helpful – plumbing, electrical, you title it. If mates wanted to get plowed out in winter, Ron would head over in his Ford F-350 pickup with a blade on the entrance.

Ron was recognized for taking his household on last-minute adventures. Dianne labored the three to 11 p.m. shift as a “picker” on the CVS transport warehouse, filling bins for shops. On some Fridays, Ron would load up the household camper with provides, then decide up Cindy with the youngsters aboard and announce they had been heading straight to New Hampshire.

As soon as, Ron took them by motor residence so far as Texas to see the Alamo, and different occasions to Daytona Seaside. Ron beloved the liberty of the street. When Dan and his sister Cindy would ask the place they had been going every day, he’d typically simply say, “Let’s see what we are able to discover.”

Cindy calls these her greatest household reminiscences.

“Not what they purchased me,” she stated, “however the locations we went and the issues we did.”


On Might 14, 4 days after testing constructive, Dan Remillard’s fever out of the blue went to 104. Liz gave him Tylenol and put him in a cool bathtub. That appeared to work – it went all the way down to 99.

A day later, Dan’s left hand went partly numb. The physician, involved about blood clots, requested that he go to the hospital.

However Dan, by no means susceptible towards grievance, stated he’d be okay.

Then his temperature spiked once more and stayed excessive. Dan started to cough, too. Because it received worse, Liz grew alarmed.

It appeared to be affecting his respiratory. It was arduous for Dan to get phrases out.

At Eight p.m., Liz insisted they go to the ER. It took Dan an hour to prepare. He’d placed on a shoe, then lie down, exhausted. That’s how weak he was.

Lastly, they drove to Rhode Island Hospital’s emergency room, stopping at a tent arrange exterior.

Staffers instantly noticed Dan wanted to be admitted. Liz must say goodbye to him there.

She moved her masks and advised him, “I like you.”

He stated the identical.

As he was taken inside, Liz discovered herself flashing again to a different medical disaster Dan had confronted, 12 years in the past.


The night time of June 15, 2008, Dan Remillard was using his motorbike after darkish by Spring Lake in Burrillville when an oncoming automotive with excessive beams blinded him. Dan drifted right into a ditch and hit a tree.

He broke his neck in three locations and ended up in a coma, a mind scan displaying compromised exercise.

Eight days later, Dan lastly awakened.

It was a month earlier than he received out of the hospital, and though nonetheless in a wheelchair, the very first thing he requested was when he might return to work.

Nevertheless it was a protracted journey to restoration. Dan needed to overcome reminiscence points and wanted three surgical procedures to right double imaginative and prescient.

Early on, Dan’s docs fearful he might have debilitating mind harm. However he stunned them by recovering absolutely.

Throughout his recuperation, Liz seldom left his aspect.

That was one of many hardest issues for her now – how she was unable to be with Dan as he battled COVID-19 within the hospital.

Liz had grown up Catholic, however after the accident, a pal took her to the Ocean State Baptist Church in Smithfield to wish. Not lengthy after, she accepted Christ into her life, and in time requested Dan to affix her.

Now, separated from her in poor health husband, she discovered her energy in God and her church.


The virus wasn’t as unhealthy for Liz. Quickly, the physique aches and fatigue light. However her exams didn’t come again destructive for six weeks. That’s how lengthy, she discovered, COVID can final.

Then she discovered one other relative had the virus – her 79-year-old uncle Virgilio Jordao. He’d lived with a degenerative nerve illness that years earlier than had put him within the nursing residence the place Liz labored. He was one of many residents she cared for.

Along with his pre-existing challenges, COVID proved devastating. Virgilio died in mid-Might on the Pleasant Residence.

In regular occasions, Danny would have helped Liz get via that loss. It was a reminder of COVID’s cruelty that she couldn’t even go to her husband for solace.


Two days after Dan went into the hospital with COVID, the night time nurse organized a Zoom name with Liz and the youngsters. Dan seemed good to her. He had on a transparent oxygen masks and she or he might see him mouth the phrases “I like you.”

That they had one other name the subsequent day. This time, Dan seemed drained. It was arduous for him to speak.

Nonetheless, his playful spirit was intact. At one level, it got here up that Liz’s background was Portuguese, prompting a nurse to say, “So that you’re a superb cook dinner.”

Dan shook his head “no” to tease Liz, then gave a thumb’s-up.

As they signed off, Liz was hopeful.

However on the third day, Dan might barely preserve his eyes open. His respiratory had gotten worse.

On the fourth, they needed to put Dan Remillard on a ventilator.

Then his kidneys failed and he was quickly on steady dialysis, too.

That started a month-long vigil as Dan held on whereas unconscious, the household praying for him from afar.


On June 20, the Remillard household received information about their patriarch, Ron.

Two years earlier than, at age 71, after a journey of reminiscence points that progressed to dementia, they’d made the arduous choice to maneuver Ron right into a nursing residence. He was now within the Morgan Well being Heart in Johnston, which gave the form of round the clock care that had been tough for the Remillards to do.

However they visited usually, Dianne bringing Ron residence each weekend, the household gathering round him.

Morgan Well being routinely examined residents after the pandemic started, and Ron was destructive for months. However on that Saturday, June 20, Dianne was advised he had come up constructive.

But there was excellent news, too. Ron was asymptomatic.

Dianne Remillard was seeing how capricious COVID-19 could possibly be. Her son Dan, robust and 43, was in grave situation whereas her husband, 72, and with many challenges, had no signs.

That may quickly change.


Dianne and Ron had met in Woonsocket in 1969, quickly after he’d returned from three years in Vietnam.

Among the many first phrases he stated to her had been, “You’re lovely and I’m going to marry you some day.”

“I used to be like, ‘Uh-huh, okay,’” Dianne recollects.

However she discovered him engaging and fairly the charmer. He was a tough employee, too.

They married in June of 1971.

Quickly, they purchased a two-family off Park Avenue, which continues to be residence to the households of their son and daughter, Dan and Cindy.

Ron remained haunted by Vietnam. He’d been on a staff that retrieved our bodies, together with at one level a superb pal who had stepped on a landmine.

“Simply items of him,” his daughter Cindy stated.

They didn’t name it PTSD then, however Ron had it.

“My father stated that’s the place his nightmares got here,” recollects Cindy. “He had desires of arms reaching up and pulling him down.”

Ron self-medicated with alcohol for a time. However Cindy admired the energy her father confirmed in overcoming it.

She credit her dad with making her self-reliant, educating her as a lady the way to change oil and tires. He usually took Cindy ice fishing at Lincoln Woods, the 2 arriving there at Four a.m. with flashlights.

She says he stored her on the precise path via her personal private challenges. When Cindy received pregnant as a youngster, her dad stated she needed to begin paying $50 per week in lease. On the time, she thought-about it harsh, however she’s grateful at this time – it taught her to face on her personal ft.

Cindy is now a preschool instructor. Her husband, George Archambault, begins work at 2 a.m. trucking substances to Dunkin’ outlets. Cindy is happy with the way in which so many within the higher Remillard household have constructed a superb life via diligent blue-collar work.

Ron had all the time modeled that ethic, and it was arduous for everybody to see him in decline the previous couple of years, and now constructive with COVID.


However the Remillards are additionally recognized for his or her perseverance, and son Dan, regardless of the ventilator and dialysis, held on. By mid-June, he appeared to be turning a nook.

Round June 18, the docs stated there was hope of weaning him off, maybe shifting him to a step-down flooring to start rehabbing again to full well being.

However there was warning, too. COVID had taken a toll on his physique and lungs, and such sufferers might out of the blue decline.

On Sunday, June 21, Father’s Day, they had been transporting Dan to a CT scan. It was an arduous course of, having to maneuver all his machines with him.

That’s when one thing occurred. Dan out of the blue crashed. His respiratory blocked up and his coronary heart stopped.

A staff started CPR and wouldn’t hand over. Lastly, at 12 minutes, they received Dan’s coronary heart restarted.

Nevertheless it left profound harm.

A nurse referred to as Liz to say issues had been so unsure she ought to come to the hospital instantly. She did, bringing the youngsters.

It was the primary time she’d been subsequent to Dan in weeks. He’d misplaced a whole lot of weight and seemed terribly in poor health.

After a half hour, the youngsters stepped out and it was simply Liz and Dan within the room. She held his hand, saying, “I’m right here with you.”

He was filled with tubes and IVs, the machines beeping and hissing.

By then, she had gotten to know the Rhode Island Hospital nurses properly sufficient to see they’d come to like Dan, too. They talked about his infectious smile, and devoted household. That they had hoped to see his triumphant restoration. Now, they advised Liz that if this was the top, Dan would by no means be forgotten.

Liz, heartbroken, prayed for Dan to rally, but when this was his time, she trusted the Lord. Liz knew God has a plan for all the pieces.


Simply as a Rhode Island Hospital nurse had referred to as Liz about Dan on June 21, now a special nurse the very subsequent day referred to as Dianne Remillard from the VA about her personal husband, Ron.

He was now not asymptomatic. Ron had developed respiratory issues. His oxygen was declining, so they’d taken him to the Windfall Veterans’ Administration Medical Heart.

As with Dan, issues seemed grave.

However the Remillards’ grit was nonetheless in each father and son. They each held via the night time. And the subsequent days.

Dianne would later say it was as if Ron one way or the other sensed his son’s scenario. She’s satisfied her husband wouldn’t go away till Danny was prepared to come back with him.


Days later, round June 26, Dan’s physician referred to as Liz.

It was now clear, the physician stated, that Dan’s coronary heart had stopped for therefore lengthy that his mind had little exercise, and wouldn’t get better.

His lungs had been in unhealthy form, too. In essence, Dan was being stored alive by machines. The physician and Liz talked about how there comes a time when a life is unnaturally extended.

Over the subsequent days, Liz prayed about what to do. At occasions, she nearly wished God was able to take Dan so she wouldn’t should make the choice.

On Sunday morning, June 28, Liz went to a service at her church, held within the car parking zone. Ocean State Baptist is an in depth group and plenty of advised Liz that Dan was of their hearts.

The pastor at one level stated it was time for every soul to wish. Liz prayed for steerage, and as she did, out of the blue felt peace.

God, she realized, was telling her it was time to let Dan go.

She shared this along with her youngsters and the Remillard household, and although heartbroken, they agreed.

For closure, they determined to arrange a Zoom name so those that beloved Dan might say goodbye.

Dan’s sister Cindy had one request — that Liz be current within the hospital room. It gave Cindy consolation that her brother wouldn’t be alone.


Liz arrived at Rhode Island Hospital’s fifth-floor Medical Intensive Care Unit round 2 p.m. that very same day, June 28. One different customer was allowed. Cindy and Dianne felt it could be too arduous, so Liz got here with Danny’s cousin Lisha Corridor.

The 2 masked and gloved up, and went in.

“Do you are feeling it,” stated Lisha. “There’s a lot peace on this room.”

Liz certainly felt God’s presence.

For lengthy minutes, Liz spoke to Danny.

“The youngsters love you,” she stated. “And I like you.”

She didn’t need to say the phrase “goodbye,” so she advised him, “We’ll see you once more, in heaven.”

Liz held her husband’s hand and along with her masks on, kissed him on the brow.

Then it was time for the Zoom name.

Everybody was amazed at how many individuals popped up. It appeared over 100 – household, mates and church folks.

“My son was a social butterfly,” Dianne would later say.

As she seemed on the Zoom display screen on her sofa in her Woonsocket residence, she thought of Danny’s smile and blue eyes and his heightened way of life – he beloved eagles a lot, he received a tattoo of 1 on his again.

One by one, these on the Zoom bid goodbye to Dan, saying they wished he didn’t should go.

“My God, grown males crying,” Dianne would recall, “saying how a lot Danny touched their life.”

Individuals thanked Dan for being there for them, whether or not plowing out a driveway or having espresso after a Bible research.

It struck Dianne that solely two days earlier than, June 26, she had marked her 49th anniversary with Ron. Two days earlier than that, Liz and Dan marked their 14th. It was as if the 2 males had held on to see their milestones via.

“My coronary heart is breaking,” Dianne stated to her son. “You’re the most effective son a mom might want for.”

Abruptly, Dianne’s telephone rang. She determined to not reply. Then, subsequent to her, a name got here in to her daughter Cindy.

It was Ron Remillard’s physician on the VA.

“I’m sorry to say,” he advised her, “however your father simply handed.”

Cindy and Dianne shared the unhappy information on the Zoom.

That’s when Cindy stated to her brother, “Go along with Daddy – he’s ready for you.”

There in Danny’s room, Liz thought to herself that now Danny can be with each his dads – his earthly father and the heavenly one.

Liz requested if anybody had anything to say.

Nobody did, leaving the hospital room quiet aside from the sound of the machines.


The decision ended, although Dan’s sister Cindy selected to remain on, to be along with her brother to the top.

Liz advised the docs she was able to let him go.

Minutes later, they took Dan Remillard off the respirator.

Liz continued to carry Danny’s hand.

After just a few minutes, he was gone.

Ron Remillard died of the virus June 28 at 2:45 p.m.

His son Dan handed on that very same day, at 3:48 p.m.

Dianne, Cindy and Liz – all of the Remillards actually – are fairly positive dad and son at the moment are collectively.

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On Twitter: @markpatinkin

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