Marge Fairweather said a little prayer when she first heard news about the coronavirus early this year. She remembers hoping — praying — that her family would not be affected.
“You never know,” said Fairweather, who at 69 has fond memories of growing up as one of 12 children along rural Sunnyside Boulevard near Lake Stevens.
That hope, conveyed in the Marysville woman’s prayer, was dashed June 2. One of her sisters, 67-year-old Christine Ann Jubie, died that day due to complications of COVID-19.
Jubie’s death at Providence Regional Medical Center Everett came just days before Gov. Jay Inslee’s June 5 announcement that Snohomish County could move to Phase 2 of the Safe Start plan for reopening businesses and activities around the state.
As people return to restaurants and malls or attend large events, there appears to be a growing sense that the risk of getting the virus is in the past. Families grieving for loved ones lost to COVID-19 know that’s not true.
“Over 100,000 people have died. It is a big deal,” said Everett’s Larry Jubie, 73. He remembers his younger sister — Chris was No. 8 in the family’s order of siblings — as an artsy free-spirited woman who loved to paint and make jewelry.
A 1971 graduate of Lake Stevens High School, Chris Jubie was working in Seattle when she met a man from Denmark, Soren Henrik Jepsen. During their marriage and for a time after they divorced, she lived in Copenhagen. “They traveled the globe together, and Christine learned several languages. She had an exciting life, and was known for her infectious laugh, humor and artistic talent,” her obituary said.
“She sculpted, painted and did pencil drawings,” Fairweather said. Her sister also became skilled at a type of physical therapy practiced in Denmark. “She had studied photography. She loved gardening. She always wanted to learn something new. The constant was her art.”
Not only was Chris Jubie in the high-risk age group for COVID-19, she suffered from Alzheimer’s disease. Her family began seeing signs of memory loss more than five years ago. She had lived with another sister, Annette Jubie-Nassar, in Kirkland. The family tried other residential care before moving her more than a year ago to Heritage Court in Everett. The assisted living facility specializes in memory care.
“The last time I saw her was March 11,” said Fairweather. She and brothers Larry and Harv Jubie often visited their sister after weekly Rotary Club meetings. Fairweather said Chris’ illness, which they learned was COVID-19, began about five or six weeks after Heritage Court was locked down in March.
When the Snohomish Health District partnered with 13 care facilities countywide to do testing, Heritage Court was one of five in which at least 20% of residents tested were found to be positive for COVID-19, according to a May 17 article by The Daily Herald’s Rachel Riley. In all, Heritage Court has seen 43 coronavirus infections.
“I don’t blame Heritage Court,” Larry Jubie said. “It’s real difficult. She was not able to communicate well.”
He said his sister spent about seven weeks in the hospital.
“With COVID-19, it’s so tough. We couldn’t see her,” said Dave Jubie, 65, the ninth sibling in their childhood home. “We were all really close as kids. To be brought up in a house with 12 children is not common,” the Marysville man said.
Dave Jubie said another brother, Mukilteo’s Al Jubie and his wife Kathy, did get permission to see Chris in the hospital before she died, and were required to wear masks and gowns. Fairweather believes her sister was comatose by then. She and her husband made the decision not to go. “We didn’t want to risk bringing it home,” she said.
A better visit was last Oct. 27 at Heritage Court, when Chris’ brothers and sisters were there for her 67th birthday. “We all came for a celebration, and brought cupcakes for the entire facility,” recalled Larry Jubie, who doesn’t know if his sister understood it was her party.
A philanthropic family that has long been involved with the Providence General Foundation and the Marysville Food Bank, the Jubies lost their youngest sibling in 2000. After Gail Marie Jubie was murdered by an intruder, an infant nursery at the Providence Pavilion for Women and Children was named in her honor.
They are no strangers to grief. Fairweather is the former director of Victim Support Services, an agency that helps crime victims and their families.
As COVID-19 continues to claim lives, the family hopes others will exercise care not to contract or spread it. According to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 113,914 people in the United States had died of COVID-19 as of Friday — up 947 from just the day before. In Snohomish County, the coronavirus death toll stood at 153 Friday.
“In a period of four months, it has devastated the whole world,” Dr. Anthony Fauci said Tuesday as he participated remotely during a biotechnology conference.
“And it isn’t over yet,” said Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, in a New York Times article about the pandemic’s power.
Fairweather said that in a recent conversation on Zoom, “one of the gals said she doesn’t believe this is all real,” and that she didn’t know anyone who’d had COVID-19.
“Our sister got it,” Fairweather said. “Some people just want to brush it off. I don’t get that at all. It’s frightening. When you go out, at least wear a mask to protect your family.”
Julie Muhlstein: 425-339-3460; firstname.lastname@example.org.