PLAINVILLE, Conn. (WTNH) — The number of nursing home deaths in Connecticut is skyrocketing with the total now at 1,249. It accounts for more than 50% of the state’s overall deaths. That includes Tony Damian’s mother, Norma Martel. She was diagnosed at Plainville’s Apple Rehab Farmington Valley early last week.

Damian believes healthcare workers there did everything they could to help his mother and they were thanked in her obituary. 

His mother served in the US Navy during the Korean War. She had 8 children, 20 grandchildren, and 28 great-grandchildren.

The family found out early last week she had COVID-19 as well as kidney failure. Two days later, she died. Two of her children were allowed inside the nursing home to say good-bye and it was 15 minutes after their visit that she passed away. 

Damian says his mother was a good listener, extremely generous, and never passed judgment on anyone. Even some of the workers at the nursing home called her ‘Ma.’

“She was always in a good mood. She would wake up with her coffee and start humming, singing, or whistling. It was usually zip-a-dee-doo-da and she would go from window to window and open the blinds. Then, go window to window and open them up. So, she would flutter around the house like a butterfly,” said Damian.   

“There was never a judgmental time in her life. No matter what was going on. That was probably her strongest attribute, and one of the most powerful lessons you know we learned as children.”

Even though the family can not have a funeral right now, they’ve been celebrating her life over Zoom family calls. The funeral home is holding her urn until all these social distancing guidelines are lifted.