The late Sture Kallman passed away on March 25, 2020 in Williams Lake. His son Ingemar Kallman said visiting his dad during the COVID-19 pandemic left him urging others to have compassion for frontline workers. (Monica Lamb-Yorski file photo - Williams Lake Tribune)

Lives impacted, lessons learned during COVID-19

Visiting his dying father revealed difficult conditions for frontline workers, Ingemar Kallman said

Limited visits with his late father in palliative care due to a no-visitor policy imposed during the COVID-19 pandemic has inspired Cariboo-area resident Ingemar Kallman to urge the public to show compassion.

“We personally had a family member stopped from seeing their dying grandfather,” Ingemar Kallman wrote on a Facebook post. “It caused confusion, people being upset, and a bunch of phone calls. Because my father was not listed as palliative, no visitors allowed. They changed him to palliative and immediately allowed two family members access for the time being, to sit with dad.”

His dad, Sture Kallman, died on Wednesday, March 25.

“I got a call from my sister, she was there with him,” he said of their father’s death, speaking from his home at the historic Rose Ranch which has been in the family for 127 years this coming May.

“So I did what dad would do, headed for my corrals and my cows.”

Recalling one of his last visits to the hospital to see his dad, Kallman said he talked with a nurse outside the unit who had worked a 12-hour shift for the 11th day in a row.

“She told me about how she couldn’t go home for fear of possibly infecting her husband and two children,” Kallman noted in the Facebook post.

“She told me of the difficulty she had stopping her 11-year-old son from hugging her when his dad brought him to see her.”

Earlier, some family members had been turned away from visiting Sture and the nurse told Kallman it was a ‘horrible’ thing to have to do.

“I wept as I went home much like I do every night for the past week after seeing dad but this time I didn’t weep for my dad, I wept for this nurse.”

Responses to his Facebook post and the amount of people who reached out has been overwhelming, he told the Tribune.

“I have been totally blown away. I was worried it would be seen as about dad or myself when it was about someone on the frontlines. All the shares, comments and likes are unreal.”

Sture did not have COVID-19, but his heart was failing and he had an infection in his feet due to bad circulation, Kallman said.

At one point amputation was recommended, but as Sture was a high wire walker in his earlier days, that was not an option in his mind.

In 2018, when the Williams Lake Seniors Village held a one-year after the wildfire evacuation celebration, Sture was living there at the time.

He expressed gratitude for how he was cared for while in Prince George during the evacuation and for Mayor Walt Cobb’s open communication with residents during the wildfires.

Sture also showed the Tribune some photographs from his past as a high wire walker and pointed out in his room where he kept some of the wire rolled up in a bundle.

Read more: Williams Lake Seniors Village celebrates strength one year after the wildfire evacuation

Kallman said he has been hearing about hostility towards police, retail workers and hospital personnel during the pandemic and was disheartened.

One of the last conversations he had with his dad, before his body started quitting and drugs were impairing him, was about how people are far better off getting along.

“As he said, ‘you get nowhere fighting. Even when it is somebody you might not care for or their side of the argument, listen, respect, and ‘yust get along,’” he said, adding his dad was a Swede and had a thick accent, hence, the ‘yust.’

“My ma was silent and steadfast, she used to get annoyed at my dad, and said he was a brown-noser. Maybe he was slightly, but he had a base of people who truly loved him just for his being, nothing else.”

Sture had an amazing life and was amazing in his treatment of everyone, Kallman added.

“The world is losing a shining star and I’m hoping we can continue what he shared. He wouldn’t have gone on Facebook but he would have said the same as me when he spoke. I hope my thoughts have an a effect on others to treat our frontline and essentials with respect and kindness.”

Retired after working in retail for 32 years, Kallman said to hear about the abuse retail people are taking through the pandemic is alarming.

“I’m worried because if it keeps getting worse, then what?”

Read more: Why you don’t know which B.C. city has COVID-19 cases: Interior Health explains

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