Isabelle Papadimitriou was a dedicated respiratory therapist who worked to help others breathe. When coronavirus robbed the 64-year-old of her breath, her daughter Fiana Tulip knew she had to speak out.
On Tuesday, Tulip published her mother’s obituary. In it, she wrote of her love of the flute, her two dogs, Shadow and Gauner, and how “the carelessness of politicians” led to her mother’s “undeserving death.”
“Isabelle was a giant, and powerful in her kindness. She made a difference each and every day in many people’s lives. And like hundreds and thousands of others, she should still be alive today,” Tulip wrote.
“Her undeserving death is due to the carelessness of the politicians who continue to hedge their bets on the lives of healthcare workers through a lack of leadership, through a refusal to acknowledge the severity of this crisis, and through an inability and unwillingness to give clear and decisive direction on how to minimize the risks of the coronavirus,” she said.
In an open letter that accompanied the obituary published in the Austin American-Statesman, Tulip specifically targeted Texas Governor Greg Abbott, writing that his “inaction and active denial” of the virus’s devastation mean those lost are “just numbers to you.”
She also invited Abbott to her burial “to witness first-hand the tragedy of my brother and I mourning our incredible mother who gave her life to save others.”
This “honest obituary” is not the first of its kind.
An Arizona woman invited Gov. Doug Ducey to her father’s funeral earlier this month, casting blame for his “terrible leadership” and failure to require masks. Phoenix native and San Francisco resident Kristin Urquiza coined the hashtag #HonestObit after her father’s obituary was shared widely on social media.
Indeed, as the coronavirus pandemic continues to spike across the United States, family members who have lost loved ones are calling out leaders in an unusual way: publishing memorials tinged by grievances in their local newspapers.
Both obituaries mentioned Marked By Covid, a grassroots movement dedicated to calling on leaders to prevent more unnecessary covid deaths. The organization “is funding ‘honest obituaries’ for others who believe poor leadership is the cause of death for their loved ones,” the group said in a statement.
Its website allows anyone to request funding through a form, asking them, “Obituaries are basically advertisements for the dead. You pay for them and you get to have the last word. Why not tell the truth?”
Next month, on August 13, Marked By Covid will hit the streets for a national day of action. Volunteers will “support actions in current and burgeoning covid-19 hotspots; local constituents will create vigils and ofrendas outside of their elected officials’ offices to honor the lives lost to coronavirus, raise awareness of the severity of the pandemic, and challenge their leaders to only reopen when it’s safe.”
Abbott hasn’t responded publicly to the letter and didn’t respond to a request for comment.But his stance on masks has certainly changed.
Initially resistant to a shutdown and a mask mandate, Abbott said on Monday that “we strongly encourage everyone, to just very simply, for a few months, wear a face mask whenever you go into public. That way you can make sure you do your part to slow the spread of COVID-19 and you do your part to save lives.”
While there is no statewide mandate requiring masks in Arizona, Gov. Ducey announced on June 17 that he would allow mayors to create their own restriction.
Scottsdale was the first to make it mandatory starting June 19, with other major municipalities including Phoenix, Tucson and Flagstaff issuing their own later.
In an emailed statement to CNN last week, Patrick Ptak, a spokesman for Gov. Ducey said, “Our hearts go out to the family and loved ones of Mark Anthony Urquiza. We know nothing can fully alleviate the pain associated with his loss, and every loss from this virus is tragic.”
He did not say whether the governor would attend the funeral.