A Virginia dad who “treasured” his children was hospitalized the same day his wife died of COVID-19.
Two weeks later, 48-year-old Kevin Mitchem was also gone, leaving behind the couple’s five beloved kids, including their four children and one from a previous relationship, his family said.
“He would take them everywhere — take them fishing, take them to the park, take them to county fairs,” his brother, Mike Mitchem, told McClatchy News in a phone interview Thursday. “He would take them to events that they had around town — whatever he could do to get the kids out of the house and make sure they had fun.”
Kevin had a lingering cough before he was diagnosed with the coronavirus. He had been an active, healthy person but was wary about getting a COVID-19 vaccine, according to his brother.
“He worked construction,” Mitchem said. “He was a heavy equipment operator. Then when he wasn’t working, he was cutting grass with my dad or going around picking up scrap metal to make a little extra money.”
Around the same time that Kevin got sick, his wife reportedly went to a hospital near the couple’s home in Stafford. Misty Mitchem, who was in her 40s and had diabetes, died on Sept. 23, according to her obituary.
Mike Mitchem said she also hadn’t gotten a coronavirus vaccine, which health officials recommend for all eligible adults, including those who have some health conditions that could put them at risk for having serious complications from the virus. Long-term side effects from having a COVID-19 shot are “extremely unlikely,” according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
“We tried telling him: ‘It is better to get the vaccine,’” Mitchem said.
His brother, who died on Oct. 8, is remembered for his generosity and his love for bowling. He and his wife met in high school and leave behind five kids and a grandchild, according to their obituaries and a GoFundMe page that says it’s raising money for the family.
Now, the couple’s four youngest children live with a relative in South Carolina. The fifth child is an adult, Mitchem said.
“My heart breaks for their children, who are going through this terrible situation,” Rachael Rhodes, Mike’s daughter-in-law, told The Free Lance-Star in northern Virginia. “The loss of one parent is difficult enough, but to lose both parents within a short time span is devastating,”
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