Maryville family shares life after loss from COVID-19

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MARYVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — Many of you are learning to live without a loved one. COVID-19 has taken the lives of nearly 550,000 people in the United States during the last year.

We don’t often get a chance to see the fallout of losing a loved one to the coronavirus, but it’s there. A Maryville family knows it all too well.

Esther and Blair Minton bought a home on plenty of land in 2018. It’s the kind of place some people spend their whole lives working to find.

“You can hear, in the background, just the crickets the frogs, the wind chimes,” Esther whispered underneath the sounds.

There are plenty of selling points, but if you asked the Mintons, it was the view.

“Look at those clouds. The sunset is beautiful,” Esther can be heard saying in a Facebook Live video showing off the property to her friends last year.

This couple chased sunsets all around the world, but their favorite was right here.

“He liked the peacefulness. He said, ‘hey, honey the sunset’s going down,’ so we would just come out and stand here,” Esther recalled as she looked out over the porch.

This is also the kind of place meant to be shared. The two would often float in the pool holding hands.

“We were going to grow old and, you know, die here,” Esther said.

Now, though, Esther Minton is here alone.

As the sunsets dimmed for winter the chill of a COVID December had blown right into this home.

“He would be saying I’m sorry. You know, never thought this was going to happen,” she said.

This man lived for the fresh air, but Blair Minton died on a ventilator. We first shared his story the day he died back in December.

Now Esther’s sisters have stepped in to help.

“It’s hard to come into the house and still not look for him,” Debbie Davis, Esther’s sister, said.

The sisters are at the home tidying up. This spring brings cleaning, but memories of the husband and father saturate so deeply no amount can wipe them away.

This has become the kind of place hundreds of thousands of families are finding themselves in right now.

“Hopefully people will think about getting the shot that weren’t gonna get it now,” Esther said as she stood atop a counter cleaning a cupboard.

There is so much to do when you lose a loved one unexpectedly.

“She’s had some really tough things that she’s had to go through and do,” Davis said. “I know it’s one of those things that you think oh, we’ll do that later, but you never know when that later isn’t going to be there.”

Perhaps the most difficult task, though, is changing her view.

“I’m sure he’s upset in heaven. There’s no doubt,” Minton said.

Blair will spend forever there, but Esther won’t.

“We were here moving,” she cried.

This is also the kind of place that sells in a matter of days. The sisters had come to help Esther pack up and clean the house to list for sale. With Blair gone she can’t afford to stay.

“When I come to the end of the road and the sun has set for me. I want no rights in a gloom filled room. Why cry for a soul set free,” Davis said, reciting a poem in front of the home. “We’re going to let him go here.”

They gathered around with Blair’s ashes and scattered them around the property.

“It was his house. He loved it,” Minton said.

Now it belongs to someone new. A family of six will be moving in soon.

Loss tends to leave quite a mess.

“I used to always tease and say living the dream, baby. Sitting out on the front porch, going to the pool, you know, just hanging out with him here and it just. I don’t say it right now, but I’m sure I will again,” she said through tears.

Esther is always looking up only now, that view seems to look right back.

“So he’ll still be able to see the sunsets,” she said as she scattered ashes on the front porch.

Now Esther is off to find hers.

She is hoping to buy a property in Maryville for her and her grown daughter, who is a nurse, to share.

Esther admits she was hesitant about the COVID-19 vaccines before her husband’s death. She and her family have now all been vaccinated. She hopes her story encourages anyone with reservations to consider getting the shot.

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