South Africa

Daughter bids farewell to parents who died of Covid-19 on the same day

“I love you, Mommy. I love you, Daddy… I love you endlessly and you will always be in my thoughts, in my heart and in my prayers.”

This was the moving farewell given to Barry and Heidi Volkwijn by their 19-year-old daughter, Amy. The Cape Town couple died of Covid-19 on the same day.

Barry, 48, a driver at Alexandra Psychiatric Hospital, died in the early hours of the morning on Saturday 20 June. Heidi, 43, a respected motivational speaker and manager of services for youth and adults at the League of Friends of the Blind (Lofob), died in the afternoon.

A joint funeral was held on Saturday in a church where congregants sat apart, practicing social distancing, their tears absorbed by the cloth masks covering their noses and mouths.

“I’m so heartbroken that I have to say farewell to you, but so happy you will rest in eternity together,” Amy’s tribute, read on her behalf by her former teacher Anushka Daniels while she stood alongside her, continued.

She previously told News24 she couldn’t imagine her parents separated and were grateful that “even though they are gone, they are still together”.

Barry was remembered as a “gentle giant”, with a warm and kind smile. Tributes to him described him as a man of action who always sought to serve others. They described Heidi and Amy as “the loves of his life”.

Both had a deep faith and were active church members.

Heidi was described as bubbly and energetic; as someone who loved to talk and who always had a warm smile.

She lost her sight in her teenage years. The family described Barry as her eyes, and as an “earth angel” sent just for her.

Barry studied to be a radio technician and took his first job at Lofob, where he met Heidi. Five years ago, Barry took a position at Alexandra Hospital and enrolled to finish high school.

The family had started displaying flu-like symptoms last month. Barry had been hospitalised by 10 June as he had been struggling to breathe.

Heidi and Amy were tested that same week. By that Friday, Heidi – a diabetic – had been admitted to the Constantiaberg Mediclinic, also battling to breathe.

The couple had been married for 21 years. Their anniversary took place the day before they died, while both were comatose and on ventilators.

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