Langley Lodge resident Verna Clarke was 88 years old the day she died of COVID-19, which she contracted from within the care home. Clark succumbed to the disease on May 11. (Lori Humphrey/Special to the Advance Times)

Langley Lodge resident Verna Clarke was 88 years old the day she died of COVID-19, which she contracted from within the care home. Clark succumbed to the disease on May 11. (Lori Humphrey/Special to the Advance Times)

Langley woman recalls last words spoken to mother who died of COVID-19 on 88th birthday

Verna Clarke was more than a senior with dementia who died of COVID at Langley Lodge, she was ‘loved’

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak at Langley Lodge has proved “one of the most challenging,” in a May 25 press briefing.

Specifically, it has been difficult to ensure residents living with dementia are “wearing masks and staying in their rooms,” Henry detailed.

That’s a part of the tragedy at Langley Lodge, she said – the struggle to contain the spread of a life-threatening disease among patients who crave constant connectivity.

It’s a tragedy the daughter of 88-year-old resident Verna Clarke – who died on May 11 from COVID-19 – is reminded daily of, as infection numbers climb.

Lori Humphrey said that for her mother, Verna, the onset of dementia brought about an increasing sense of restlessness within her.

“For years she lived with me, our husband, and our four kids,” Humphrey explained, “We would all come home and things would have happened.”

Before moving into Langley Lodge four years ago, there were times Verna had invited strangers into her daughter’s yard, thinking they were related.

“At times she wouldn’t have eaten even though she said she did,” her daughter added.

RELATED: Langley Lodge’s COVID-19 death toll rises to 22

A great grandmother of 12, grandmother of 22, and mother of 13, Verna was already someone with an equal measure of stubbornness and love in her blood, Humphrey said.

It was that same sense of exuberance that afforded her a rich later years at Langley Lodge, when her children felt she needed around-the-clock care.

“We’d come to visit her and she’d never be in her room,” her daughter recalled fondly, “She was always out in the dining hall.”

It was there that she met Ron, one of the only other seniors on her floor as agile as she.

For more than a year, Verna and Ron danced to Elvis’ music. They dreamt up a new life, Humphrey said, as well as a past – their stories replaced the memories neither of them were able to dig up since dementia took its toll.

“I’d go into her room and she’d have pictures of her and him, and his family up on the wall,” Humphrey recalled seeing, among Elvis photographs and memorabilia.

“He did everything for her,” she said.

And when Verna became too stubborn to use a wheelchair to get around the care home, he’d push her in one. Six months ago, Ron died in his sleep.

The last time Humphrey was able to visit her mother, before the outbreak, was in November. By then, Verna didn’t recognize her child sitting right in front of her.

“That was the hardest day I think,” the daughter said, not knowing the facility would be closed to the public just a few months later in response to a pandemic-level threat.

READ MORE: Staff member at Langley Lodge diagnoses with COVID-19, Fraser Health confirms

May 7, two days shy of Mother’s Day, Humphrey found out that her mother tested positive for the novel coronavirus.

She was told Verna had been in close contact with the Langley Lodge staffer who first contracted the virus, and spread it asymptomatically.

At that time, only three seniors at Langley Lodge were confirmed to have the disease.

“When we called, the nurses said she seemed OK,” Humphrey said.

But by the time the family brought the 87-year-old flowers for Mother’s Day on May 10, Verna was in critical care, drifting in and out of consciousness.

“I love you mom” were the last words the daughter ever spoke to her mother, as she battled COVID-19.

Verna died May 11, her 88th birthday. She was born the same day in 1932.

“It was almost like she waited for Mother’s Day and part of her birthday to pass away,” the daughter said.

“It was almost like she wanted to hear my voice.”

READ MORE: Fraser Health takes charge of COVID-19 response at Langley Lodge

Humphrey still recalls the days when her mother lived with her and they’d tackle crossword puzzles side-by-side.

Or when Verna would sneak in a visit to see her daughter at Save-On-Foods, where she worked.

Or, how Verna often played hide-and-seek with her grandchildren, and later accused them of bending the rules.

“That’s exactly her,” the daughter remarked, “I think of her every day.”

The COVID-19 outbreak at Langley Lodge has proved the most deadly of all those in B.C. care homes since the pandemic was declared early March.

Twenty-three residents have succumbed to fatal complications from the disease, most were seniors living with dementia on floors two and three, confirmed CEO Debra Hauptman.

On Wednesday, another one of its residents died from the coronavirus.

Coronavirus

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

 

Ron and Verna Clarke, Langley residents who lived and died with dementia at Langley Lodge, enjoyed a year and a half relationship, dancing to Elvis ballads and being each other’s most-cherished companion. (Lori Humphrey/Special to the Advance Times)

Ron and Verna Clarke, Langley residents who lived and died with dementia at Langley Lodge, enjoyed a year and a half relationship, dancing to Elvis ballads and being each other’s most-cherished companion. (Lori Humphrey/Special to the Advance Times)

Langley resident Verna Clarke as a young girl. (Lori Humphrey/Special to the Advance Times)

Langley resident Verna Clarke as a young girl. (Lori Humphrey/Special to the Advance Times)

Just Posted

Read the full 2019-2020 annual report report online at www.seabirdisland.ca.
Seabird Island looks back in 2019-20 report

Highlights include COVID response, new development, upgrades

File photo
Outdoor recreation generates close to $1 billion annually in Fraser Valley: report

Camping, hiking and sportfishing generate the most spending, report finds

Signs up at Hope Secondary School inform visitors that the school is a closed campus during the coronavirus pandemic. (Emelie Peacock/Hope Standard)
Fourth COVID-19 exposure reported at Hope Secondary School

Nov. 27 exposure two days after another exposure at the school, with five exposures total across SD78

Chief Robert Gladstone of Shxwha:y Village at a federal flood funding announcement April 24, 2019. (Jenna Hauck/Chilliwack Progress file)
Consortium of Indigenous chiefs seeking a way to participate in cannabis economy

All Nations Chiefs from the Shxwha:y, Cheam, Soowahlie and Sq’ewlets holding online forum Dec. 2

Harrison mayor Leo Facio, Kent mayor Sylvia Pranger and organizer Rose Tustian (far right) at the Salvation Army kettle in Agassiz in this 2017 photo. (Contributed Photo/Rose Tustian)
Local Salvation Army kettle campaign kicks off Saturday

Municipal, provincial dignitaries to volunteer

Mary Cox and Jack Plant dance in their pyjamas and slippers at the morning pyjama dance during the Rhythm Reelers’ 25 Annual Rally in the Valley Square Dance Festival in Chilliwack on June 4, 2011. Sunday, Nov. 29, 2020 is Square Dancing Day. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress file)
Unofficial holidays: Here’s what people are celebrating for the week of Nov. 29 to Dec. 5

Square Dancing Day, Disability Day and International Ninja Day are all coming up this week

Black Press Media and BraveFace have come together to support children facing life-threatening conditions. Net proceeds from these washable, reusable, three-layer masks go to Make-A-Wish Foundation BC & Yukon.
Put on a BraveFace: Help make children’s wishes come true

Black Press Media, BraveFace host mask fundraiser for Make-A-Wish Foundation

114 Canadians were appointed Nov. 27 to the Order of Canada. (Governor General of Canada photo)
Indigenous actor, author, elder, leaders appointed to Order of Canada

Outstanding achievement, community dedication and service recognized

Screenshot of Pastor James Butler giving a sermon at Free Grace Baptist Church in Chilliwack on Nov. 22, 2020. The church has decided to continue in-person services despite a public health order banning worship services that was issued on Nov. 19, 2020. (YouTube)
2 Lower Mainland churches continue in-person services despite public health orders

Pastors say faith groups are unfairly targeted and that charter rights protect their decisions

A big job: Former forests minister Doug Donaldson stands before a 500-year-old Douglas fir in Saanich to announce preservation of some of B.C.’s oldest trees, July 2019. (B.C. government)
B.C. returning to ‘stand-alone’ forests, rural development ministry

Horgan says Gordon Campbell’s super-ministry doesn’t work

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good
Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Peter Wilson, left, and Micah Rankin, right, formed the Special Prosecutor team that was tasked with reviewing and litigating charges stemming from the Bountiful investigation. Trevor Crawley photo.
End of Bountiful prosecution wraps up decades of legal battles

Constitutional questions had to be settled before a polygamy prosecution could move forward

Despite rumours, Surrey RCMP say they are not issuing tickets to people if they are driving in a vehicle with others from a different household. (File photo)
COVID-19 tickets: No, RCMP aren’t checking vehicle occupancies, restaurant tables

Enforcement about education, not punishment says Surrey RCMP Cpl. Joanie Sidhu

Most Read