Arizona siblings lose both parents to Covid-19 in less than 48 hours
By David Williams, CNN
(CNN) -- Bob and Sue Walker were inseparable during more than 44 years of marriage and called each other "mate" and "matey" because they were soulmates, their adult children told CNN.
They died of Covid-19 over the holidays on separate floors in an Arizona hospital.
"They were truly, truly a couple, you know. I mean, nothing could come in between them," daughter Stephanie Walker, 40, told CNN. "And, unfortunately, Covid took them both within 46 hours of each other."
The couple found out they had Covid-19 just before Thanksgiving -- Sue was tested in the hospital while getting treatment for what they thought was a COPD flare-up and Bob took a home test when his wife tested positive.
They died a few days later in a Phoenix-area hospital -- Sue on November 30 and Bob on December 2nd.
"It just happened very quickly," Charissa Walker, Stephanie's twin sister, told CNN.
Neither of their parents were vaccinated and they both had health issues, son Jonathan Walker, 42, said. He said his dad had kidney problems and other health issues in the past and had recently had part of his foot amputated because of complications from diabetes.
Covid-19 has killed at least 830,788 people and infected about 57.2 million in the United States, according to January 5 data from Johns Hopkins University. Hospitalizations have soared in the United States as the Omicron variant spread and US Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy said that most hospitalized patients are not vaccinated and boosted.
Jonathan said their dad had to go on a ventilator because of his condition, but his mom seemed to be improving -- she was able to move around, walk to the bathroom and even asked for some food from Taco Bell because she was hungry.
She was able to talk and wave and make the I love you sign with her hand in a video the sisters took just 24 hours before she passed.
The siblings set up a FaceTime call between their parents, so Sue could talk to Bob and see how he was doing.
He said his mom just stared at the phone like she was in a trance when she first saw their dad.
"Then she kind of woke up out of it and was like, 'Mate, you got to get better. We got to go home for Christmas, mate,'" he said. "I truly think that at that moment my mom's heart broke."
Her condition deteriorated and she died the next day.
Charissa said she got there in time to hold her hand as she passed.
"My heart just broke into a billion pieces, but I was happy that I was able to be there with her," she said.
Jonathan said his parents were as "thick as thieves" and that they would fight, but he admired them for sticking together no matter how tough things got.
"My parents loved each other. There was no doubt about that," he said. "They held true to their vows until death do us part."
"Death didn't even do them apart," Charissa said. "And I just hope I have a love like theirs."
The holidays were tough for the family.
They had their parents cremated and received the ashes just days before Christmas.
Jonathan said his mom's present was still under the tree last week, Stephanie said she still gets the urge to call and talk to her parents, and Charissa said she's still in shock.
Stephanie said that she hopes that people will take the virus seriously.
"Covid is real, and it doesn't judge." she said. "Losing one parent to this virus -- it's horrible -- but losing two parents within a short amount of time is unbelievable."
The siblings are planning to hold a celebration of life for their parents on March 1 -- their mom's birthday and their parents 45th wedding anniversary -- at the church where they got married.
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