Weeks ago, when we all started to lock ourselves in our homes and started to live new, confined lives, we thought we would be safe. Early February, I bought gloves and masks for what was feared to come. We talked about safe practices and social distancing, and we believed everything would be all right.
My wife Debra’s parents were both in a nursing home close by. Debra’s mom was in a memory care unit and Debra’s dad was in rehab for recovery after a minor operation from which he suffered a mild stroke. The stroke made it difficult for him to use his right side, and he was undergoing rehab. He could get around and was coherent and functional — except for his hand. Being in the home allowed him to visit his wife and Debra’s mom on a regular basis.
Then when all the lockdowns started, the nursing home pulled out all the stops and went into complete lockdown. No one was allowed in or could visit. That meant no family visitation, which we had done on a regular basis. At least Debra’s dad was in lockdown with his wife and they got to see each other every day. It would have been devastating for him not to see his wife, which he did on a regular basis several times a day.
Before I go on, I need to share a few things about Jack Fadely. He became my second dad. I became his son-in-law and he became my father-in-law. Jack was exceptional. He was 85 years old and a walking example of a man who could beat all odds. He was still working until a few weeks ago. He was a professor at a college and most recently ran an enormously successful job counseling practice. He was a man with a heart for everything around him.
He was all about the good things in life, mainly always finding ways to help people. He was extremely intellectual, and I enjoyed many long conversations with him on all sorts of topics. He was non-judgmental (except for rare occasions and usually focused on current politics). He had a smile on his face all the time and always saw the good and positive things in life. He had a son Mark and a daughter Debra.
Only being a few minutes away, he was a guest at our house for dinner several nights a week. A few other nights, we would meet at a local restaurant to enjoy dinner together. Those moments and times were priceless.
I always thought my dad was an exceptional man, and I am sorry that my dad and Jack couldn’t have met. My dad died years ago, and I know he made me a better man — both in business and in life. He and Jack would have enjoyed many things together as they were very similar. I am fortunate to be able to say I have had two great dads in my life.
Jack Fadely watched out for his family. His kids and all members of the family were important to him. It was always interesting to me how many lives in Indianapolis that Jack has touched. We couldn’t go out to dinner or the store without someone coming up and thanking Jack for what he had done for them.
Jack’s counseling service had more business than it could handle from word of mouth. Through career testing and long talks, he helped guide his clients to looking at new horizons for jobs and careers. He has a special talent to call it as he saw it. But he was also great at helping people find the confidence in themselves to achieve personal greatness.
A year and a half ago when I was in crisis mode after losing the other website I was running, Luminous Landscape, he helped me make the decision to start photoPXL. I could have done several things like retire, go work for someone else or consult.
I remember he asked me, “What do you want to do?” and I said, “I want to share the passion of photography with others.” Photography is the only thing I’ve ever known, and it has given me everything in my life I have today. He told me that not too many people ever get to do things they love and are passionate about. He told me that maybe I should run around the track again, but in doing so, remember all the dips and curves so I could avoid them the second time around.
So, we set out to design and build photoPXL. Whenever we met for dinner or any other gathering, he always asked how it was going and said, “Don’t worry. You will do it.” He was full of encouragement, and he made me believe even more in myself. When we launched photoPXL, he sat next to me for a guided tour, and every week, he would sit with me with a glass of wine and watch our videos and look at the articles we were publishing. He didn’t have to do that, but he always showed interest and smiled and laughed at the right spots.
Watching him from the side when we were at family gatherings was always fun as he was pretty much the life of the party in his unique and humble way. His family had an incredible amount of respect for him. The father-daughter bond that Debra had with him was totally unique. They both loved each other, and Debra would go out of her way to help him no matter what. Sometimes they had their moments as any father-daughter relationship would. Debra would get angry and he would stand his ground. It was all a part of their make-up. It always ended making their bond stronger and stronger.
I could go on and on. Over the coming weeks and years, I’ll look back every day on the incredible loss of Jack Fadely in my life as well as his family.
Jack’s care home was on extreme lockdown. We believed he would be safe there and the home was taking all the right precautions. Then about two weeks ago, we got a notice that there were three positive cases in the home and the infected people were isolated.
This damn virus found its way in.
We called the care facility immediately and asked if we could take him out. He was able to walk and function normally, and the only thing he needed was rehab, which could be done with visiting physical therapists. They said yes and we went to get him and specifically asked if he was tested. They insisted he wasn’t exposed. So we went and got him and took him home. His dog was thrilled just like him, and we helped him set up so he could remotely work with his clients. It all looked like it was going as planned.
We had him over for dinner and we brought him dinners on other nights. Then on Saturday, a little over a week, he took a fall. We had him taken to the hospital and they checked to see if he had a possible stroke. They sent him home and said the scans didn’t show anything. But something was wrong; he wasn’t himself. He started to decline in health. He could barely walk and he slept a lot. Debra and her brother each took a night to stay with him. This was all over Easter weekend. The following Monday, we were able to talk to his doctor, who sent a nurse to check on him. The nurse’s assessment was that he needed to go to the hospital because his lungs had fluid, he had a slight temperature, lost his appetite, and was getting dehydrated.
The hospital admitted him, and in 24 hours, we were told he tested positive for COVID-19. Things started to happen fast. His oxygen levels decreased rapidly and his fever was spiking. He was not a good candidate for a ventilator due to other issues. Plus, he didn’t want to be put on one. The coming days got worse and worse. On Saturday, we received a call that Debra could make a visit. Debra and her daughter Claire headed to the hospital, which was only minutes away.
When they arrived, they were dressed in full protective gear, including a mask and face shield. They were able to be with him when he passed. Debra with her daughter Claire were able to hold him as he passed away knowing he had family with him. He held onto a rock that Debra had given him from their favorite vacation in Michigan and he had his favorite blanket. The rest of the day was a blur. Phone calls and everything else you can imagine.
At least Jack got to go home and have a few days in his home. He got to see his dog Maggie that he loved very much and that we will now be adopting.
It has been hard on all of us. This just didn’t have to happen. It is happening all over the world, and many die in isolation. This coronavirus outbreak is the worst. We are now waiting to see if any symptoms arise for any of us. Debra was tested, but they wouldn’t test me. It seems they don’t want to test unless I have symptoms. By then, why would they even bother to test me? So far so good. But why? Where are all the tests that the President claims are out there? Why wasn’t Jack tested before he left the nursing home? There’s a lot of hindsight at this point.
I could go on and on about the system’s flaws. Why we shouldn’t open our countries back up in a hurry. When someone you know well dies of this awful virus, it makes you fully realize what is going on. It becomes a reality that you are now part of. For the first time ever, the whole world is battling the same thing. If our leaders were smart, they would join the world together and collectively fight this pandemic and make the world a better place for it. They wouldn’t be pointing fingers in different directions except for the right one.
When we get out of this — and we will — we should remember a lot of things. We should realize that, as humans, we are all one. I was reminded of this last night when watching the two-hour virtual concert and all the musicians and great people who were on the virtual concert to thank the doctors, nurses, and first responders worldwide for their service. There were also people who have found new ways of adapting and appreciating the life they have and the lives that they share with others. I know we said this after 9/11, but Never Forget.
I can’t even begin to express how sad I am, and quite frankly, how mad I am. I want to punch something or someone. I want to blame someone. This just didn’t have to happen. Jack Fadely, my friend, father, father-in-law, husband, and pure good human being is gone. Damn it! I’ll miss him a lot.
If you haven’t experienced this first-hand, then you are lucky. Don’t run out the day the world opens up again and become a statistic. We have a long fight in front of us. For those of you who have experienced loss from this awful virus, then you can truly understand the loss we are feeling.
Please stay safe and healthy and realize that we have a future ahead of us and an opportunity to change the world in a good way.
P.S. My wife Debra has also written an article about her dad: “My Father – An Amazing Human Being – Tribute To Jack Fadely“. This is a touching view from a daughter.
Update I originally wrote this in mid-April 2020. As of yesterday, my wife Debra has had Covid (positive) for 9 days. This is not a virus you wish on anyone. It hurts deeply to see her suffer so much. She is a fighter and so far she is pushing through it. It disturbs me that we are willing to open our country back up and risk people getting sick with this. I have had my father in law die and my wife suffer. It disturbs me to go to the store to purchase something for her and see people without masks. If people could only see what Covid-19 does they would think differently. Please be safe, stay healthy. I have been tested and wait for my results. No symptoms so far. Thank you. This is serious stuff!
About the author: Kevin Raber is a photographer, the former CEO and publisher of Luminous Landscape, and the current CEO and publisher of PhotoPXL. The opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author. You can find Raber’s work on his website. This article was also published here.