It was a goodbye that likely cost him his life, and it was worth it. So says the family of Sam Reck, a 90-year-old Florida man who died Aug. 1 of COVID-19—which he likely contracted when saying a final good-bye to his wife JoAnn three weeks prior. Both died of the disease at Lakeland Regional Health Medical Center. His daughter tells the Ledger that "he knew the risks. There wasn’t anything any of us could have done to have talked him out of that. He would have gotten himself there one way or the other to see her." And his son wrote on Facebook that he specifically asked his father if he regretted the visit after learning he had COVID. "Not one second," was his reply. "He said no matter what happens, he was very happy he had the opportunity to say goodbye and hold her hand one more time."
Indeed, WTSP reports video of their last visit shared by the family shows Sam dressed in PPE say to Joann, "I'm finally getting to hold your hand after all these months." The Ledger reports Reck's dedication to his wife was reported on earlier in the pandemic: The two lived in adjacent facilities in Lakeland. JoAnn, 86, suffered from dementia and Sam spent nearly all of his day in her room. That practice was forced to end when the state barred visits in nursing homes, but the staff helped Sam continue to see JoAnn several times a week: They coordinated the couple's schedules and locations so that Sam could be on his 2nd-story balcony while JoAnn sat in a dining area below him. They were dubbed "Romeo and Juliet" as a result. Read the Ledger's article in full here. (Read more coronavirus stories.)