Mother Upshaw. Queen of the Park.
They are Evelina Upshaw’s nicknames, lovingly earned and bestowed.
Upshaw died of COVID-19 and dementia at the Northwood long-term care home in Halifax on May 8, two days before Mother’s Day. She was 94.
Her nicknames are fitting for a woman who ran a hot lunch program for about 100 kids a day at her church, then known as Cornwallis Baptist, in Halifax for 33 years. When the program ended, she was 78.
For another decade, she kept feeding kids, helping out at a breakfast program that served nearly just as many kids each a day in her neighbourhood, Mulgrave Park, a public housing community in the city’s north-end. She also helped out at the local food bank.
The foundation of a full belly
The community matriarch believed having a full belly was the foundation for everything.
“She’s always loved kids, she’s always believed that all children should get an equal opportunity for their education,” said Darlene Upshaw-Tynes, the youngest of Evelina’s six children.
Northwood has been at the centre of the virus in Nova Scotia. As of Sunday’s update, 49 of 55 COVID-19 deaths in the province have occurred there.
Death by COVID-19 has complicated the grieving process, and it’s magnified for some of Northwood’s families devastated by the virus’s grip on the nursing home.
There’s heartbreak and sadness, peace and acceptance, and also confusion and anger. For Upshaw’s family, her death has triggered all of that.
In particular, they’re furious at Northwood management for not doing more to reduce the risk of COVID-19 to seniors like their mom.