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    Honoring Our Relative Lost to COVID-19, Robert L. Meyers (1936–2020)

    By Louise “Lou” Fischer–

    On July 11, 2020, my partner Amy Meyers—also a contributor and friend to the San Francisco Bay Times—and I got the dreaded phone call that we knew was a possibility but hadn’t expected. As I watched Amy’s knees buckle and heard the plaintive wail that preceded the torrent of tears, my heart sank with sadness, anger, and a feeling of “this s–t just got real.”

    A few days earlier, her father, Bob, had been admitted to a Dallas hospital for treatment of pneumonia caused by a mysteriously acquired case of COVID-19. How he ever came in contact with the virus is a mystery to this day. As an elderly man with limited mobility (he could walk, but the backyard snails under the noontime sun of a Dallas summer moved faster), he rarely left the house since the onset of the pandemic. 

    As he was deprived of his much-loved gatherings with his gang of retired Dallas lawyers, the “1970s Dallas Masters of the Universe,” (yes, he even had a Porsche back in the day!), he spent his time at home, watching the news, playing cards, poking around on his iPad, and reciting poetry from memory to family members and the myriad of health and domestic helpers who assisted him and Amy’s mother, Libby—all of whom tested negative after Bob’s diagnosis, so none of them was the vector.

    Photos Courtesy of Louise Fischer

    Once Bob was diagnosed and admitted to the hospital, everyone in Bob’s immediate world went into “COVID mode,” a mix of fear, worry, and sleuthing. Fear manifested as: “Holy crap, I was exposed. “Am I going to get sick?” “Where can I get a test in Dallas?” If you are an uninsured essential worker, the answer is nowhere, unless your kind and generous employer (Amy’s Mom) pays the $250 herself for your test. 

    Worry presented as, “Oh no, Bob is 83. Is he going to be OK?” And, “Activate the prayer circles, we’re at DEFCON 1, all hands on deck; bring in the atheists if you have to!” Sleuthing turned out to be a wasted effort, since there’s no contact tracing in Texas and investigations by the family provided no clues.

    Worry morphed into a very brief period of hope followed by crushing despair. After a few days in the hospital, Bob’s pneumonia cleared, his fever came down, and the doctor informed the family that they were discharging him the following day. That morning, in his last conversation with Amy, he remarked that he was “happy as a clam” about going home. Sadly, he had a fatal cardiac arrest because COVID-19 doesn’t give up that easily. 

    Just like that, a family lost a patriarch and this dreaded pandemic claimed another victim. My deepest condolences to my “other family”: Bob’s wife of 59 years, Libby; daughter Lucy; her husband Ken; and Bob’s “light of his life,” granddaughter Madeline; and, of course, Amy, who never got the chance to see him before he passed.  

    We were all deprived of a few more years of enjoying his good cheer, infectious laugh, off-key singing, and recitation of Robert Frost poetry. Bob/Dad, I know you’re probably in heaven playing your favorite Eagles’ tape while driving your convertible Porsche, but we miss you down here on Earth.

    Stay safe, people. COVID-19 plays dirty.

    Louise (Lou) Fischer is a Former Co-chair of the Board of Directors of the Alice B. Toklas LGBT Democratic Club and has served as an appointed and elected Delegate for the State Democratic Party. She is a proud graduate of the Emerge California Women’s Democratic Leadership program, was a San Francisco Commissioner, and has served in leadership positions in multiple nonprofit and community-based organizations.

    Published on December 17, 2020