Korean War vet Kyu Chin Hahn loved Canada, and he loved his family
Hahn, 90, among 11 residents at Ottawa's Montfort long-term care home to succumb to COVID-19
Kyu Chin Hahn sacrificed so much for his family, but as he lay dying at Ottawa's Montfort long-term care centre, even they weren't allowed to visit his bedside to say goodbye.
"It's very hard for everybody," said his son, Bob Hahn, who had last visited his father in early March, before the nursing home was forced into lockdown by the coronavirus pandemic. "I didn't know that the last time I saw him was going to be the last time I'd ever see him."
The 90-year-old, known as Jim to his English-speaking friends, died early Tuesday morning, one of 11 Montfort residents to succumb to COVID-19 as the virus continues to reap its deadly toll on long-term care facilities across the country.
Like so many families now, the Hahns have had to curtail their grieving. On Thursday, there were just five people at the funeral ceremony for Kyu Chin Hahn, a Korean War veteran who was known as a proud and doting grandfather and more recently, great-grandfather.
'He loved Canada'
Hahn served in the South Korean army during the Korean War, learning to speak English while training in the United States later. He immigrated to Canada in 1967 with his wife and three children.
"He loved Canada," said Bob Hahn, their eldest. "He felt he owed everything he was able to obtain during his lifetime to Canada."
Kyu Chin Hahn worked as a chemist in the agricultural industry, living mostly in B.C.'s Lower Mainland. After retiring, he volunteered with seniors for more than two decades and led an opera appreciation group.
"He was a man who stressed integrity. Integrity was the most important," Bob Hahn said.
His beloved wife of 58 years, Woon Ok Hahn, died in 2015, and Bob Hahn said his father was lost without her. Soon after, Kyu Chin Hahn moved to Ottawa to live with another son in the same building as Bob.
Moved to Montfort in January
With their father in the early stages of dementia, the Hahns decided in January it was time to move him into Montfort. Just two months later, the privately run facility went into lockdown.
"At the time, I didn't really think too much of it because we knew he was in relatively good physical health and we'd be able to go see him after all this craziness was over," Bob Hahn said.
Two weeks later, the family received an email explaining one of the staff members had tested positive for COVID-19.
They were told their father was fine, but soon after Kyu Chin Hahn fell, and that's when attendants discovered he had fever. A test for COVID-19 came back positive.
"We were worried," Bob Hahn said, but after a few days staff reported his father's temperature had gone back down.
If there's one thing I try to follow, it was his sense of integrity and honesty.- Bob Hahn
Then on Monday, a staff member called Hahn to say his father had taken a turn for the worse and may not survive the night. At approximately 3:45 a.m., Hahn got another call to tell him his father had died.
Hahn is haunted by the isolation his father must have felt in his final weeks without his family by his side.
"For my father, family was the number one priority," Hahn reflected. "He would have been missing everyone."
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Because Kyu Chin Hahn had difficulty hearing and found phone conversations frustrating, staff at Montfort arranged Skype calls with his family before he died. The whole family, including his grandchildren, gathered for the final call.
"I think he was happy to see all of our faces," Bob Hahn said.
A lasting legacy
Hahn doesn't blame Montfort or Revera, the company that operates the home, for his father's death, but he is concerned about the province's commitment to protect residents of long-term care facilities, who are bearing the brunt of the pandemic in Canada.
"Seeing what's happening with this pandemic, the government needs to fully support the long-term care facilities," he said.
When the pandemic is over, Hahn said he will organize a proper memorial for his father, and deliver his ashes to a burial plot waiting in B.C.
And he will strive to keep his father's legacy alive within his own family.
"I try to learn from that. I'm not sure how successful I've been, but if there's one thing I try to follow, it was his sense of integrity and honesty."