A 96-year-old woman from Texas died last week from the coronavirus.
While that is already a tragic occurrence in and of itself, what makes it more notable is the fact that the woman’s elder sister had succumbed to the Spanish Flu more than a hundred years ago in 1918.
Selma Esther Ryan died at her Austin assisted living facility on April 14 due to complications from the coronavirus.
Ryan’s 5-year-old sister Esther, who she had never met, succumbed to the Spanish Flu, one of the deadliest pandemics in history, 102 years ago.
“On April 3, I got a call from the facility that five residents, including my mother, were running a temperature,” Ryan’s daughter, Vicki Spencer, recalled to KXAN.
During the following days, Ryan’s condition worsened but Spencer and her family could do nothing as coronavirus safety guidelines prevented them from coming close.
“Over the next five days, I watched through the window as she got sicker and sicker,” Spencer recalled. “It was so hard to not be with her.”
“Her 96th birthday was April 11,” she added. “Our family gathered outside her window, but it was obvious that something terrible had happened.”
Older adults are at greater risk of suffering serious complications from the coronavirus, according to information from the Centers for Disease Control. Because of this, the elderly have been told to stay indoors and avoid crowds to reduce the chances of getting infected.
While Ryan hadn’t been tested for the coronavirus while she was still living, a post-mortem report from the Travis County Medical Examiner’s Office confirmed she had the disease.
According to her obituary, Ryan was the “epitome of a lovely lady,” and enjoyed gardening, cooking, playing bridge, and cross-stitching.
Aside from Spencer, Ryan also has a son Mike as well as three grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.
While Ryan had never met her older sister, they are now tragically linked because of the circumstances of their deaths.
During the 1918 Spanish flu pandemic, more than 50 million people across the world died from the disease, said the Centers for Disease Control. While the coronavirus is more dangerous for older adults and those with pre-existing conditions, the Spanish Flu proved deadly to healthy people and children younger than 5.