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Not a statistic: Omaha family remembers father lost to COVID

No one expects this to be their story. Sitting down to talk about the death of a loved one they...
No one expects this to be their story. Sitting down to talk about the death of a loved one they expected to have many more years with.(none)
Published: Dec. 30, 2020 at 9:05 PM CST
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OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) - No one expects this to be their story. Sitting down to talk about the death of a loved one they expected to have many more years with.

Matt Stewart lost his father Thomas Scott Stewart after a hard fight with COVID.

In pictures online he’s seen with his wife on Thanksgiving Day, described as vibrant and healthy.

“His loss has really hit a lot of people hard,” Stewart said.

Ten days later, he was in the hospital, three weeks later he was gone. The husband, father, and grandfather is remembered for being a hands-on guy.

“The thing about my dad that was great as he was really involved in our lives,” Stewart recalls.

The kind of person who became a black belt with his kids and coached grandkids in baseball.

“He’s not going to be there for us anymore, he’s not gonna be there for his grandkids, he’s not going to be at those events, he’s not gonna be coaching, and offering advice, and we’re really gonna miss that for sure,” Stewart said.

A healthy man, Thomas took the pandemic seriously because of lingering lung damage from tuberculosis. After spending a couple days in bed with symptoms Matt’s wife suggested Thomas check his oxygen levels with a pulse oximeter.

“If you get sick and your oxygen levels go below 90 that’s your warning sign that we need to get to the hospital,” Thomas said.

He credited this tiny gadget for alerting them it was time to get his father more advanced help. Once at the hospital it was a series of high and lows.

“We were hopeful he would get out but as it continue to go downhill we realized his lungs just weren’t strong enough to recover unfortunately,” Stewart said.

Many who have been in this situation know the hardest part is not being able to see their loved one. It was 20 days before one at a time people where able to visit.

“You wonder that if you’re there by their side from the very beginning if you can somehow give them your healing energy and if seeing family being surrounded by family might help them recover. We’ll never know,” Stewart said.

In the last four days of Thomas’s life the hospital gave permission to come say goodbye as a family.

“We were very lucky as a family to be able to get into the hospital to see my dad the last four days of his life and to be with him and to hold his hand and pray over him and to talk to him but a lot of families aren’t getting that opportunity and it needs to change,” Stewart said.

The last couple days Thomas Stewart’s family has spent time trying to figure out how to honor his life. As an avid sports lover they are working with P.A.C.E. to help revitalize a ballpark. You can help in their mission through PayPal at nataliewitzke@yahoo.com or by mail at 14512 Polk Circle, Omaha, NE 68137.

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