COVID-19 I Macomb woman turns pain into inspiration with sign campaign

By KENNEDY WILLIAMS, Reporter

MACOMB, Illinois (NEWS3) – A Macomb woman is sharing her story of grief during the pandemic by urging people to take the coronavirus seriously. 

Jackie Foxall, 60, has had a trying time during the pandemic. Right before the global outbreak, Foxall lost her dad on December 21, 2019. 

“The last thing I said to him was, ‘I’ll see you Monday, Dad,’” Foxall said. “He passed away in the room with Mom sitting right next door on the bed.” 

Things got worse for Foxall in mid-June 2020. With all the questions surrounding COVID-19, her mom was diagnosed with the virus but was asymptomatic. Her mom is a resident at a nursing home where officials reported McDonough County’s first 15 COVID-related deaths.

“If I lose Mom just right after losing Dad, I don’t know what I’m going to do,” Foxall said. “I really had a struggle with God that night. ‘Why? Why? Why would you do that to us?’” 

As a result of COVID-19, Foxall said one of her mom’s main struggles has been her mental health. 

“Being seriously depressed because she was in isolation, lost Dad, and lost her roommate due to COVID,” Foxall said. “It felt like every day we were getting information that someone else we knew passed.”  

Finally, Foxall received some good news later that month, when her mom was released from her nursing home’s COVID-19 unit, beating the deadly virus. It was a celebration as Foxall’s mom, Shirley Carle, came down the hallway doing a happy dance while Foxall recorded. 

“I try to handle it as best I can,” Carle said.

Now, through a window, Foxall can visit her mom. Through all of the obstacles, she has taken on a mission.

Foxall said after her mom battled with COVID-19, it inspired her to create signs that read, “Save Lives, Wear a Mask.” To date, Foxall has painted 180 signs which are located locally and in other states across the country. 

“I will continue to keep painting signs until somebody tells me they’re sick of looking at them or that they want me to stop,” Foxall said. 

Although everyone has not supported Foxall’s purpose, she has been recognized with awards from different groups around the community. She received the McDonough County Community Quality of Life Award for outstanding community service in September. 

“It just is mind-boggling to me that it has become what it has,” Foxall said. 

Foxall recognizes that the new normal is challenging for some people, but she wants them to think about their life.

“I would much rather wear a mask than a ventilator,” Foxall said. 

Along with that, Foxall hopes that although restrictions are being lifted because of fewer cases and increasing vaccination rates, people mut still take precautions and wear a mask at all times.

A reunion for Foxall and Carle is expected for late April after Foxall receives her second COVID-19 vaccination.