As I listen to the morning news reporting the upcoming milestone of 500,000 dead in the U.S. from Covid-19, I think of my mother. She along with undoubtedly many more souls has not been included in this statistic. I am not comforted by this oversight.

As a child of the depression and a housewife and mother in the 1950s and early 1960s pre-women’s movement, she was possibly used to being part of the great uncounted, unlike my privileged generation, enlightened by the writings of Betty Freidan and others.

The credit for most of my parents’ many accomplishments were given mostly to my father. My mother was used to being overlooked as were so many women of her generation. It was their lot in life. I don’t know for sure if it bothered them but think it certainly must have. I do know that when I asked my mother what she wanted in her later years when life decisions needed to be made it always seemed like a foreign concept to her.

Even so this feels to me like the final insult.

In the final few days and hours of my mother’s life, she refused to get out of bed. Refused is an overused word in hospitals. “Patient Refuses”. Being a nurse, I am more than familiar with the term sometimes used to mean nursing staff are too busy to bother with a reticent elderly patient. Maybe this was the case with Covid-related staff shortages. We will never know.

On Monday I contacted the director of the rehab facility in Florida where Mom was a patient post hip fracture. She would look into why my mother was left in bed all weekend.

Before she could return my call, I had a phone call from the nurse in charge on my mother’s unit saying my mother was short of breath and had had a dry cough all weekend. During her one-week stay I had received four emails telling me caregivers had tested positive for Covid-19 at the facility. Bars and restaurants and gyms were open in Florida. People were militantly opposed to wearing masks. The virus was spreading mostly unabated.

Earlier in the week we tried to send my mother flowers as a reminder that we loved her and were thinking of her. No. Flowers were turned away at the door. They cannot be sterilized we were told. Seriously I think? Isn’t anyone there familiar with the spread of a respiratory virus?

I had a friend beg for pictures of family to be brought from her apartment to her bedside. We FaceTimed her on the iPad my son and his wife had thoughtfully sent to her. At first we were hopeful. The hip fracture was a crack and she was feeling better and getting up and about. She would be able to go home. Maybe finally we would be able to convince my still independent mother now in her 90s to move here to the Vineyard to be closer to family.

And then the phone calls came. My mother died alone in a rehabilitation hospital in Florida. Family was not at the bedside. No one held her dying hand as she struggled with her final breath.

A few weeks later I received the death certificate. Cause of death: Old age. No mention of Covid. No test done. The facility retained a clean record for Covid-related deaths.

My mother was uncounted.

Sue Carroll lives in Edgartown.