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He lost his wife of 55 years to COVID-19, now he's warning others about how dangerous the virus is

Posted at 12:43 AM, Dec 08, 2020
and last updated 2021-01-07 19:46:54-05

Thousands of Hoosiers have died since the coronavirus pandemic began in March 2020 and we know — they're more than just numbers. If you've lost a loved one to COVID-19 and want to share their story reach out to us at FacesOfCovid@wrtv.com.

BLOOMINGTON — Audrey Beckley is just one of the thousands of Hoosiers who have died from COVID-19 since the pandemic began, but her husband hopes her story will serve as a warning to others about how dangerous the virus is.

"We had so many plans. We hoped to stay here in this house for a lot of years," Ken Beckley, Audrey's husband, said. "We wanted to do a lot of international travel. We looked forward to the day our grandchildren would get married. We looked forward to watching our great-grandchildren grow and to be around them. We just had so many plans."

Beckley's plans with his wife of nearly 56 years were cut short in August when she died because of COVID-19.

"We were following every health recommendation by national public health officials. We were very, very careful about washing hands, sanitizing, distancing, always wearing masks," Beckley said.

Ken's story about losing wife of 55 years, Audrey, to Covid-19 really touched a lot of you. I've put together most of...

Posted by Cornelius Hocker, WRTV on Tuesday, December 8, 2020

In the day leading up to Audrey testing positive and then dying from the virus, she started having trouble with her legs. She was taken to the hospital because it was serious.

“I heard a thud in our bedroom and what had happened was, she got out of bed, took a step but her legs really wouldn’t move and she fell against a chest of drawers and I found her clinging to that," Beckley said.

He struggled to get Audrey into bed and then called 911. That was on a Monday morning. Because she had multiple sclerosis, doctors believed at the time that was the problem.

"They thought perhaps it was a flare-up of MS which it turned out not to be," Beckley said.

By that afternoon, Audrey was back home. On Tuesday, Beckley said his wife had a good day, but he started having typical COVID-19 symptoms that night.

"I had started having chills. I had body aches, headaches. That went away the next afternoon," Beckley said.

On Wednesday, Audrey's legs were bothering her again. They both went to get tested. Thursday morning, Beckley says he woke up the sound of moaning and his wife was half off the bed and out of it.

"I could tell in her eyes she had no idea what she was doing and her legs wouldn’t move again, so I called 911," Beckley said.

Audrey was hospitalized on Thursday and by Sunday, things had gotten worse.

“Her lungs were filled with a lot of pneumonia and they just weren’t producing enough oxygen," Beckley said.

Despite her condition, Audrey was still able to communicate with her husband. She found out he and their children were going to have a rib dinner. She didn't want to miss out.

"She said 'I’d like to have ribs and a glass wine' and I said 'well no, we can’t do that unless your nurse approves," Beckley said.

Her medical staff did approve without the side of wine. This is one of the good memories Beckley has from this ordeal.

“We have this wonderful picture of her with her ribs and baked potato," Beckley said.

The following day was her son's birthday, so she gave her husband instructions on what to do.

“As all mothers do, despite how sick they are, she texted and said be sure to fix such and such for Greg for his birthday," Beckley said. "Later that afternoon, she sent a selfie, her trying to smile with an oxygen tube running out of her face.”

Audrey let her husband know the doctors were pleased with the progress that was being made. She said she was going to order dinner. Beckley texted his wife at 6 p.m. to ask about dinner. She told him she had eaten. That would be their last conversation.

"At 3 a.m., I got the call that...that things had just turned like that and she was not going to make it," Beckley said. “A wonderful nurse held Audrey’s cell phone for me three times that day, for me to talk to Audrey and tell her everything you would want to tell your spouse as he or she were dying. I told her that I would be fine. The kids would be fine and not to just hang on out of fear that we wouldn’t be.”

Beckley is sharing his story of a devastating loss to warn people about the seriousness of COVID-19. For those not taking the pandemic seriously, Beckley doesn't mince words.

"Those that refuse to mask and follow the other health precautions are among the most selfish people to have lived. This is a pandemic for God’s sake," Beckley said.