Photo courtesy Brooke Coch
A legacy is the story of a person’s life — the things they did, the places they went, the people they met; it’s what a person leaves behind to be remembered by. For Denton resident Jean Reed, her legacy is defined by her friends and family.
On April 10, Reed died after testing positive for the coronavirus two days prior. She was residing in Denton Rehabilitation & Nursing Center and was 89 years old.
Reed’s life could be characterized by her dedication to her family, her insistence on never missing a recital, a game or a family dinner.
“MeMe — that’s what everybody called her — lived her life to be a mother and a wife and a grandmother,” said Coppell High School special education teacher Brooke Coch, Reed’s granddaughter. “She made it to every single event for me growing up. That was the purpose of her life, and she was just very good at being a grandmother.”
Reed welcomed and fully embodied the role of a caring grandmother, never letting a single member of her family end the day hungry and showing the rest of her family how to take care of their own.
“She was sweet in her actions,” Coch said. “She was very nurturing, always wanted to take care of you and feed you. She would ask us to take a bite of something or eat something even if we said we were full. And we have always rallied around her and taken her lead on everything: how to be a good mother, how to be a good aunt, how to be a good sister because she was all those things.”
With coronavirus precautions and social distancing orders in place,, Coch and her family were unable to visit Reed for the past several weeks.
“We [couldn’t] be with her, we [couldn’t] see her, we can’t be with each other,” Coch said. “When she was put in the hospital, the hardest thing was that we couldn’t be with her. Right now, we can’t have a funeral or a memorial service. And when we’re back into the real world and seeing people, we’re going to feel it more and miss her more. I’m really not looking forward to that time when things do go back to normal because that’s going to be the first time we truly feel it.”
One of the hardest things for Coch was knowing none of her family members could visit her grandma in her last days and also dealing with the grief alone.
“The reality is that your loved one is suffering and fighting alone, and we have to deal with it alone and can’t be with them for comfort,” Coch said. “And we don’t know how the disease got into the nursing home, so that just goes to show how contagious it is.”
Losing her grandmother highlighted the importance of maintaining social distancing when in public, as Coch saw firsthand the dangers of ignoring these rules.
“I see so many people calling [social distancing] propaganda and complaining about wanting to go back to work; they don’t really care because it hasn’t impacted them,” Coch said. “But the thing is, when I go out to the grocery store, I wear a mask and gloves not because I’m scared of getting it but because I’m scared of already having it and being asymptomatic and giving it to someone like my grandma or someone who’s a caretaker to someone like my grandma.”[a]
Reed’s life is not defined by her last moments as another person who tested positive for COVID-19, but is instead celebrated by her devotion to her family and love for those around her.
“The biggest thing about her is her passion to be a grandmother and mother,” Coch said. “That’s what defined her. Family was such a big deal to her, and that’s how I hope to be with my daughter and my grandkids.”