WARWICK, R.I. (WPRI) — A Warwick man says he got to tell his grandmother he fulfilled one of her last wishes in life before she passed away.
Derek Paquette says his grandmother, Patricia Foley, 88, died April 21 after complications with Alzheimer’s, in addition to testing positive for COVID-19.
He says he was called the previous Sunday with news she didn’t have much time left.
“They found mottling in her feet, which is a sign that death is coming,” Paquette said.
It was then Paquette was faced with a decision to either FaceTime his grandmother goodbye, or say goodbye in person. If he opted for an in-person goodbye, he would have to quarantine and miss her funeral, an already small affair due to social gathering guidelines in effect.
“It was kind of like a catch 22,” Paquette said. They opted for FaceTime.
A few months ago, Foley learned she would become a great grandmother again. Paquette and his wife Jessica are expecting a child in September.
“I asked her if she wanted a boy or a girl, she had said she wanted a boy because there were just too many girls in the family. She had four daughters herself,” Paquette recalled. “Even though the disease had taken so much from her, it never took away her wit.”
Over a FaceTime call that Sunday night, Paquette says he was finally able to tell his grandmother he and his wife Jessica were expecting a baby boy. Paquette says while his grandmother was not fully awake due to being on morphine, he was told she could still hear him.
“At least I was able to tell her, whether she heard it or not, or really took it in,” Paquette said.
The same weekend staff at West Shore Health Center told Paquette they found mottling in her feet, they also performed a COVID-19 test. It came back negative. Foley was retested the following Monday, and it returned a positive result.
Paquette says she passed away in the early hours of Tuesday morning.
“They put the cause of death as coronavirus, but technically she was already passing away from complications from Alzheimer’s,” Paquette said. “It really doesn’t matter what the cause of death is, it’s not going to bring her back anyways.”
Foley was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s in 2014, and had been residing at West Shore since 2015, following her husband’s death in 2015.
“The last few years, seeing her decline and not remembering certain things, and forgetting how to speak, how to eat,” Paquette said. “The quality of life wasn’t there, especially the last couple of years, but at the same time it still would have been nice if we got to all say goodbye to her the right way instead of over a FaceTime.”
Paquette says a few people were allowed at her funeral, and brief services were performed at his grandmother’s grave.
“It wasn’t the closure we’d like, but at the same time it was still a sense of closure because the priest made it personal and they did everything that they could given the circumstances,” Paquette said.
Patricia Foley was a sister, wife, mother, grandmother, and great grandmother. She was a lifelong Rhode Islander and resided first in Providence, then Warwick for the last 58 years.
“She loved being around family. She spoiled me and my brother, more than we deserved,” Paquette said.
Paquette and his wife say they’ll honor his late grandparents by making their child’s middle name Foley.
“To be able to carry on her legacy is the least I can do,” Paquette said.