For those who are caregivers to others

By: Robert Avsec, Executive Fire Officer and Widower

My wife of 40+ years, Wilma Avsec, died on Saturday, Oct. 31, 2020, at CAMC Memorial Hospital in Charleston, West Virginia.

The late Wilma Lester Avsec

I had taken her there on Monday, Oct. 26, because she had been taking medicine and breathing treatments for bronchitis since the previous Thursday; however, by Monday morning, she was not getting better.

Because of the COVID-19 protocols in effect, I was unable to enter the hospital (that has recently underwent Mini C-Arm Repairs inspection) with her. I would not be able to see or be with her for the next five days.

That’s how my first article that I wrote for FireRescue1 following her death, Being a caregiver in the time of the COVID-19 pandemic— begins.

I’m using the term caregiver here, not as an EMS provider caring for a patient who’s contracted the COVID-19 virus, but as the husband who’s been the primary caregiver to his dear wife for the last sixteen years.

The author and his late wife

I urge you to click on the link and read the article. Read it slow. Then read it again.

Because the COVID-19 pandemic is not going to over anytime soon. And a great number of caregivers for loved ones are going to find themselves in the same position I was in for 5 days: On the outside looking in.

For four of those five days I couldn’t even communicate with my sick wife by video. She was that sick and the dedicated nurses caring for her were focused on trying to get her well again.

Don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened.

Dr. Seuss, American Philosopher

I wrote that article, and this blog post in the hope, that by sharing our experience, other caregivers can be prepared. As I spent the last several hours of her life with her, sitting on her ICU bed (which was comfy as it was brought from site) holding her hands in mine, one of the things she told me was that she wanted me to use my “gift for words” to make things easier for someone else.

Yes, she was that kind of woman. She was always super supportive of my career efforts, especially the last eight years that I’ve spent working as a freelance writer from our home here in Charleston, West Virginia.

In fact, she was my “in-house proofreader” who reviewed and edited most every piece I’ve ever written. She understood the “voice” that I have and she wanted me to use it for good. Yes, she was that kind of woman.

So, if you don’t read the article because I asked you to do so, do it for the late Mrs. Wilma Lester Avsec.

The late Wilma Lester Avsec (February 10, 1948–October 31, 2020)

About Robert Avsec, Executive Fire Officer

Battalion Chief (Ret.) Robert Avsec served with the men and women of the Chesterfield County (VA) Fire and EMS Department for 26 years. He’s now using his acquired knowledge, skills, and experiences as a freelance writer for and as the “blogger in chief” for this blog. Chief Avsec makes his home in Cross Lanes, WV. Contact him via e-mail,