‘I want everybody to know about my dad.’ Why some families want a COVID-19 memorial

News Nov 30, 2021 by Katie Daubs Feature Writer

Rob Chorley wanted two songs played at his funeral: “Stand by Me” and “You’ll Never Walk Alone.”

The 67-year-old wrote the request into a will he didn’t think he’d need for a long time. He was retired, with years of golf, travel and grandchildren ahead. In February, he went to the Mississauga Hospital to have a benign tumour removed from his spine. The surgery went well, but a week later, the hospital called to say he was possibly exposed to COVID-19.

He tested positive, and his situation worsened. His family couldn’t be with him when he died, and they couldn’t sing those songs at his small funeral. Singing wasn’t allowed.

10,000 Ontarians have died of COVID-19. Can a memorial help us heal?

Anna Ng, 68, was a careful, shy person She masked on day one of the pandemic. During the strictest forms of lockdown, she yearned to eat Korean food and dye her hair in a salon, but she went without those small pleasures because she followed the rules. Her family doesn’t know how she got the virus.

At her funeral, they packed some hair dye in her coffin, as if their mother was going for a weekend trip. It was too difficult to think of it any other way.

Rob Chorley, who was at the hospital for all eight of his grandchildren’s births, and Anna Ng, whose idea of fun was whatever made her children happy, are two of the 10,000 people who have died of COVID-19 in this province, a total reached Tuesday. Their families are two of the thousands in this province that are forever broken by the pandemic.

Marlene Chorley, one of Rob’s three children, says a monument or memorial would help with the healing process. Seeing her father’s name in stone is one way to restore humanity in a pandemic that has often reduced people to statistics.

“My dad just wasn’t the ninth person to die on March 22,” she says. “My dad was Robert Chorley, who had this full life, who made people smile and laugh and was an amazing person who was such a bright light in this world.”

She and her family have had a very difficult time coming to terms with his death, the way he was “plucked” from their lives so senselessly. “There needs to be some acknowledgment on the government's part,” she says.

“I want everybody to know about my dad,” she continues. “I think if things were done differently, my dad would still be here today.”

Losing someone during the pandemic, to COVID-19, is a completely different experience of death and grief, and that needs to be acknowledged, she says.

Rita Pang, who lost her mother, Anna Ng, thinks a memorial would offer solace to families like her own. “If we don’t remember her, who will?” she asks. But she anticipates some objections — “Why are we spending money on comforting a certain group of people and not the others, right?”

Her mother was admitted to hospital in Toronto but transferred to Peterborough during ICU bed shortages in April. She died in May, on her 40th wedding anniversary.

“We always thought it was really funny how my dad was terrible with dates,” Pang says. “She was always really pissed off about how he didn’t remember their wedding anniversary.

“It’s almost like he’ll never forget from now on.”

Pang says a memorial needs to be educational. She studied the history of medicine at university and knows that the reaction to pandemics has remained the same: misunderstanding, pseudo-science, people who relax too quickly when the end seems close. Pang thinks a memorial could help keep people on guard in the future. She follows the COVID numbers closely and worries people are no longer taking this seriously.

“What kind of follow-up would there be to make sure people remember the lessons learned?” she asks.

Since Rob Chorley died, about 300 people have been in touch with his family to say how much he meant to them. The circle of grief is wide and deep, and across the province, there are thousands more. Chorley’s wife, Annmarie, would like to see a monument reflect that, and all of the hugs that were missed during their time.

“We need to commemorate so that our children learn,” she says. “It’s sad to say, but in death there are many lessons to be learned and our family is learning them every single day. And it’s heartbreaking.”

Katie Daubs is a Star reporter and feature writer based in Toronto. Follow her on Twitter: @kdaubs

‘I want everybody to know about my dad.’ Why some families want a COVID-19 memorial

News Nov 30, 2021 by Katie Daubs Feature Writer

Rob Chorley wanted two songs played at his funeral: “Stand by Me” and “You’ll Never Walk Alone.”

The 67-year-old wrote the request into a will he didn’t think he’d need for a long time. He was retired, with years of golf, travel and grandchildren ahead. In February, he went to the Mississauga Hospital to have a benign tumour removed from his spine. The surgery went well, but a week later, the hospital called to say he was possibly exposed to COVID-19.

He tested positive, and his situation worsened. His family couldn’t be with him when he died, and they couldn’t sing those songs at his small funeral. Singing wasn’t allowed.

10,000 Ontarians have died of COVID-19. Can a memorial help us heal?

Related Content

Anna Ng, 68, was a careful, shy person She masked on day one of the pandemic. During the strictest forms of lockdown, she yearned to eat Korean food and dye her hair in a salon, but she went without those small pleasures because she followed the rules. Her family doesn’t know how she got the virus.

At her funeral, they packed some hair dye in her coffin, as if their mother was going for a weekend trip. It was too difficult to think of it any other way.

Rob Chorley, who was at the hospital for all eight of his grandchildren’s births, and Anna Ng, whose idea of fun was whatever made her children happy, are two of the 10,000 people who have died of COVID-19 in this province, a total reached Tuesday. Their families are two of the thousands in this province that are forever broken by the pandemic.

Marlene Chorley, one of Rob’s three children, says a monument or memorial would help with the healing process. Seeing her father’s name in stone is one way to restore humanity in a pandemic that has often reduced people to statistics.

“My dad just wasn’t the ninth person to die on March 22,” she says. “My dad was Robert Chorley, who had this full life, who made people smile and laugh and was an amazing person who was such a bright light in this world.”

She and her family have had a very difficult time coming to terms with his death, the way he was “plucked” from their lives so senselessly. “There needs to be some acknowledgment on the government's part,” she says.

“I want everybody to know about my dad,” she continues. “I think if things were done differently, my dad would still be here today.”

Losing someone during the pandemic, to COVID-19, is a completely different experience of death and grief, and that needs to be acknowledged, she says.

Rita Pang, who lost her mother, Anna Ng, thinks a memorial would offer solace to families like her own. “If we don’t remember her, who will?” she asks. But she anticipates some objections — “Why are we spending money on comforting a certain group of people and not the others, right?”

Her mother was admitted to hospital in Toronto but transferred to Peterborough during ICU bed shortages in April. She died in May, on her 40th wedding anniversary.

“We always thought it was really funny how my dad was terrible with dates,” Pang says. “She was always really pissed off about how he didn’t remember their wedding anniversary.

“It’s almost like he’ll never forget from now on.”

Pang says a memorial needs to be educational. She studied the history of medicine at university and knows that the reaction to pandemics has remained the same: misunderstanding, pseudo-science, people who relax too quickly when the end seems close. Pang thinks a memorial could help keep people on guard in the future. She follows the COVID numbers closely and worries people are no longer taking this seriously.

“What kind of follow-up would there be to make sure people remember the lessons learned?” she asks.

Since Rob Chorley died, about 300 people have been in touch with his family to say how much he meant to them. The circle of grief is wide and deep, and across the province, there are thousands more. Chorley’s wife, Annmarie, would like to see a monument reflect that, and all of the hugs that were missed during their time.

“We need to commemorate so that our children learn,” she says. “It’s sad to say, but in death there are many lessons to be learned and our family is learning them every single day. And it’s heartbreaking.”

Katie Daubs is a Star reporter and feature writer based in Toronto. Follow her on Twitter: @kdaubs

‘I want everybody to know about my dad.’ Why some families want a COVID-19 memorial

News Nov 30, 2021 by Katie Daubs Feature Writer

Rob Chorley wanted two songs played at his funeral: “Stand by Me” and “You’ll Never Walk Alone.”

The 67-year-old wrote the request into a will he didn’t think he’d need for a long time. He was retired, with years of golf, travel and grandchildren ahead. In February, he went to the Mississauga Hospital to have a benign tumour removed from his spine. The surgery went well, but a week later, the hospital called to say he was possibly exposed to COVID-19.

He tested positive, and his situation worsened. His family couldn’t be with him when he died, and they couldn’t sing those songs at his small funeral. Singing wasn’t allowed.

10,000 Ontarians have died of COVID-19. Can a memorial help us heal?

Related Content

Anna Ng, 68, was a careful, shy person She masked on day one of the pandemic. During the strictest forms of lockdown, she yearned to eat Korean food and dye her hair in a salon, but she went without those small pleasures because she followed the rules. Her family doesn’t know how she got the virus.

At her funeral, they packed some hair dye in her coffin, as if their mother was going for a weekend trip. It was too difficult to think of it any other way.

Rob Chorley, who was at the hospital for all eight of his grandchildren’s births, and Anna Ng, whose idea of fun was whatever made her children happy, are two of the 10,000 people who have died of COVID-19 in this province, a total reached Tuesday. Their families are two of the thousands in this province that are forever broken by the pandemic.

Marlene Chorley, one of Rob’s three children, says a monument or memorial would help with the healing process. Seeing her father’s name in stone is one way to restore humanity in a pandemic that has often reduced people to statistics.

“My dad just wasn’t the ninth person to die on March 22,” she says. “My dad was Robert Chorley, who had this full life, who made people smile and laugh and was an amazing person who was such a bright light in this world.”

She and her family have had a very difficult time coming to terms with his death, the way he was “plucked” from their lives so senselessly. “There needs to be some acknowledgment on the government's part,” she says.

“I want everybody to know about my dad,” she continues. “I think if things were done differently, my dad would still be here today.”

Losing someone during the pandemic, to COVID-19, is a completely different experience of death and grief, and that needs to be acknowledged, she says.

Rita Pang, who lost her mother, Anna Ng, thinks a memorial would offer solace to families like her own. “If we don’t remember her, who will?” she asks. But she anticipates some objections — “Why are we spending money on comforting a certain group of people and not the others, right?”

Her mother was admitted to hospital in Toronto but transferred to Peterborough during ICU bed shortages in April. She died in May, on her 40th wedding anniversary.

“We always thought it was really funny how my dad was terrible with dates,” Pang says. “She was always really pissed off about how he didn’t remember their wedding anniversary.

“It’s almost like he’ll never forget from now on.”

Pang says a memorial needs to be educational. She studied the history of medicine at university and knows that the reaction to pandemics has remained the same: misunderstanding, pseudo-science, people who relax too quickly when the end seems close. Pang thinks a memorial could help keep people on guard in the future. She follows the COVID numbers closely and worries people are no longer taking this seriously.

“What kind of follow-up would there be to make sure people remember the lessons learned?” she asks.

Since Rob Chorley died, about 300 people have been in touch with his family to say how much he meant to them. The circle of grief is wide and deep, and across the province, there are thousands more. Chorley’s wife, Annmarie, would like to see a monument reflect that, and all of the hugs that were missed during their time.

“We need to commemorate so that our children learn,” she says. “It’s sad to say, but in death there are many lessons to be learned and our family is learning them every single day. And it’s heartbreaking.”

Katie Daubs is a Star reporter and feature writer based in Toronto. Follow her on Twitter: @kdaubs