US Navy

Joseph Ekiert

May 15, 2020



He is predeceased by his mother Sophie Wojciki and brother James Wacht.

He is survived by his sister Teresa (Frank) Davis; brother Peter (Barbara) Wacht; his children Michael (Karen) Ekiert, Jodi (William) Colaiaco and MaryBeth (Christopher) Elliott; grandchildren Jessica, Christopher, Samantha, Michael, Andrew, Matthew, Miranda, Sophia; many cousins, nieces, nephews and friends.

The following Tribute was written by Mr. Ekiert’s granddaughter Samantha:

A little background, my papa was in a skilled nursing facility for rehab due to a non-related incident from earlier this spring. He was there to recover and return to his regular daily life post therapy (he was still able to care for himself, drive, grocery shop etc.). The week of 4/20 there were a couple cases of COVID-19 within his SNF. A staff member and a resident. My family was working on making arrangements for him to be removed from the SNF and possibly continue rehab at a later time. We were reassured he was on a completely different wing and would not be exposed. 4/25/20 he tested positive. Presenting with fever and slight cough. They moved him to the "quarantined wing" and treated his symptoms. He seemed to be recovering nicely. Good spirits and all which is when the second photo (On the tribute wall) was taken. My family was relieved to say the least. A little over a week ago, my family had a video call with him. He appeared as though he had a stroke. Unable to speak, confused, tremors, looking very weak. After speaking with his PA, it was concluded the virus had attacked his neurological system which had begun to shut down. This has become a now common occurrence with patients like him according to his healthcare team and we were told to prepare ourselves as it "usually" does not end well. He became easily confused and had continuous tremors. He refused all medications, food, and water. Essentially giving up. They started him on a morphine drip two days ago.

This morning, Friday May 15, my papa officially died alone. However, his spirit left him days ago. He suffered gravely until becoming delirious. He spent his last days/weeks with only the comfort of his healthcare team, whom I am sure were stressed and cautious with his care because they have their own families to keep in mind.

Now for us on the "outside,” we have been struggling emotionally. Every breath we took, he took a painful one. Every moment we laughed, slept peacefully, shared meals with our loved ones, he laid alone and confused. My family unable to visit him and be with him in his final moments of life. My papa was a veteran, difficult to love at times, a shot gun of a person if you will. Despite this, he was present for every part of my life. He never missed a birthday, holiday, graduation, celebration dinner, anything. He was quiet on some days and other days he wouldn't stop talking. He would visit me at least every other day when I worked in the pharmacy at Wegmans back home to give me a hello and a sassy comment for a hard time tossed in there just for fun. We lived together for 8 years (I think maybe more). He was only 77. He had a lot of life left in him. I live in Las Vegas now and I cannot go home to be comforted by my family. The gut wrenching pain going to sleep every night knowing that the phone call was coming to me of his death at any moment was truly one I cannot explain.

The worst part; feeling relieved when I answered the phone and heard the news that my papa was no longer suffering.

This morning my parents went to the funeral home to determine what we will do with his remains. We cannot have a funeral. I cannot be home with my family for comfort. He does not get his military memorial burial. We are cremating his body so we can later celebrate him at a time when we can all be together.

My papa was in a place he thought was safe and medically supportive for his recovery. He was at his temporary "home" sheltering in place. He was fully aware of his limitations and that we couldn't visit him when the lockdown first began. None of us thought in a million years it would result in his death. Someone, unknowingly and not to blame, brought the virus into his safe place. For those who think this is a game and don't want to social distance and wear your masks, I pray you don't feel this feeling. I pray you are not a carrier and pass it to someone who works in a healthcare facility. I pray you and your family can be with your loved ones during their last moments. I pray you are as invincible as you think. You never imagine it will effect you until it does in the worst of ways. I hope my papa's death does not go without lesson. Please, please, please, proceed in life with caution.

RIP papa, we miss you and love you so much.

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