When this season of the StoryCorps podcast kicked off in April 2020, we found ourselves facing the greatest global health crises in the last century. The months since then have been filled with more questions than answers. But on this final episode of the season, we’re bringing you stories from multiple families who are dealing with COVID-19, and having tough conversations along the way.
We start with Dan Flynn, a funeral director in southern California. When the pandemic hit, Dan traveled across the country to join an emergency mortuary response team in New York City. At the time, it was one of the most high-risk areas in the country.
Next, we hear from Dr. Joseph Kras, who works in hospice and palliative care in St. Louis, Missouri. Even though he and his 18-year-old daughter, Sophie, weren’t separated by geography during the pandemic, they found themselves grappling with another kind of distance.
The quarantine gave way to another conversation between a father and daughter. At 90 years old, Ken Felts was compelled to let go of a secret he’d been holding since the 1950s. He sat down for StoryCorps with his daughter, Rebecca, to talk about it.
Our next story dates back to 1946. Army Staff Sergeant Leo DiPalma, who had fought in World War II, also served as a guard at the first Nuremberg trial. When he passed away from COVID-19 earlier this year, his daughter Emily came to StoryCorps to remember him.
Our final story comes from Dr. Roberto Vargas, the Director of Microbiology at a hospital in Rochester, New York. He’s spent most of the pandemic working long hours in the lab, running COVID-19 tests.
To reduce the risk of exposure, Roberto originally stayed at a hotel while his wife and four young kids were at home. But he eventually came back to the house, and built a makeshift apartment in their basement. That’s where Roberto was when he recorded a remote StoryCorps interview with his wife, Susan, and their 10-year-old son, Xavier, who were upstairs.
Top photo: Roberto Vargas (left), Xavier Vargas, and Susan Vargas at home in Stafford, New York on May 16, 2020. Courtesy of the Vargas Family.
Second photo: Dan Flynn and his daughter Shannon Doty for StoryCorps. Photos courtesy of Daniel Flynn and Shannon Doty
Third photo: Dr. Joseph Kras and his daughter, Sophie Kras, at their StoryCorps interview in Olivette, Missouri on June 13th, 2020. Photo courtesy of the Kras family.
Fourth photo: Kenneth Felts (L) and his first love Phillip (R) in the 1950s. Courtesy of Kenneth Felts.
Bottom photo: Staff Sgt. Emilio Di Palma, far right, on guard at the Nuremberg Trials in 1945. Courtesy of Emily Aho.
Released on July 21, 2020.