Family’s heartbreak after mum dies of COVID-19
Devoted mother Rhonda Montgomery was no stranger to pain, having battled respiratory problems most of her life.
Last Thursday, when the shortness of breath became unbearable, she checked herself into Tamworth Base Hospital.
Hours later she died, aged 58, with doctors informing the family on Friday she had tested positive for COVID-19.
"It happened quickly, that's one consolation from all of this, at least she's no longer in pain and didn't know she had the coronavirus because respiratory problems were her everyday life," her daughter Jess Montgomery, 25, said.
"We don't know how she got it, or for how long."
Mrs Montgomery had been isolating at home and had been taking extreme precautions to protect herself.
Three weeks before she died she had gone to Tamworth Base Hospital for an appointment, with her family disinfecting her home when she arrived back from the appointment.
They are at a loss as to how she contracted the virus.
"This is a real living nightmare for us, we were worried she might get the coronavirus because of her health problems, we disinfected the house, the chair in the lounge, everything," her daughter said.
"She's a strong woman, battled every illness she had but the virus got her, she stood no chance.
"She went into hospital for one day and was at home three weeks and became progressively worse.
"She probably had the virus the whole time we don't know.
"I can't believe we've lost her. It's come as a massive shock to us all.
"Dad is a bit all over the place, one minute he's OK, the next he's not.
"They've been married 21 years, he's devastated, it's come as a shock to us all. She had a great sense of humour, it was infectious.
"Life without her will be hard."
The mother of four and grandmother to five had worked as a cleaner at Tamworth Base Hospital until 2014 and previously was a table hand at a printing firm.
"She was a beautiful kind loving wife, I (am) so sad," her husband Richard, said.
Originally published as Family's heartbreak after mum dies of COVID-19