Remembering 97-year-old Gennie Barnhart

Huntsville man recounts mother's final moments.

Remember Gennie Barnhart

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WAFF) - Former elementary school teacher Genevieve Maxine Bailey Barnhart, who went by Gennie, was a week shy of celebrating her 98th birthday.

On July 15, 2020 she passed away in her Huntsville nursing home soon after contracting the virus.

“My mother was very extroverted, positive, loved people,” Gennie’s son David L. Barnhart said.

Gennie suffered from dementia and other health problems that come with age.

After testing positive for COVID-19, her family knew what was ahead.

“We got to say goodbye, which is really unusual because they were isolated,” Barnhart said. “They had identified a couple of COVID cases at the nursing home.”

Barnhart’s daughter, an emergency room doctor, went to the nursing home in her PPE. Over the phone, Gennie’s family said their goodbyes.

“My daughter sang to her, ‘this is the day the lord has made,’” Barnhart said.

Barnhart, a clinical mental health counselor, often reflects on the pandemic. He says, wearing a mask to help prevent the spread all comes down to empathy.

“If people had been wearing face coverings and had thought about the other people on this journey with them, we might have been able to celebrate my mother’s birthday. Well we are celebrating it anyhow… But she would have been with us,” Barnhart said.

Barnhart says the nursing home did the best it could with the limited resources it had. He thanks the staff for their genuine care, especially the nurse who called about the news.

“She said, ‘her face was relaxed and she had a smile on her face’...Now she didn’t have to say that and it may not have been true, but it was a sweet thing to say,” Barnhart said.

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