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Seven siblings camp outside their 101-year-old mother's window as she fights coronavirus

They drove to their mother from six states—Maryland, Washington, Nevada, Florida, New Jersey, and North Carolina—soon after they learned that she'd tested positive.

Seven siblings camp outside their 101-year-old mother's window as she fights coronavirus
Cover Image Source: Getty Images (representative)

When the O'Brien siblings heard that their mother had tested positive for the novel Coronavirus in her Michigan nursing home, they immediately knew they had to be near her. There was no question about it even though they lived all over the country and would have to drive for hours to reach her. That's the unmistakable bond they share with the 101-year-old family matriarch, Jean O’Brien. Seven of her children left everything behind to be by her side, and for the past couple of weeks, they've been camping outside Jean's window, doing everything they can to raise her spirits.



 

"She needed us—just like when we were little [and] we needed her," Megan O'Brien, the youngest of Jean's nine children, told ABC News.  Pat O'Brien, one of Megan's brothers, added, "I had no other single thought when I heard that she was positive other than getting home and seeing her and taking care of her and doing whatever I could to make her time better." The siblings hastily packed and drove to their mother from six states—Maryland, Washington, Nevada, Florida, New Jersey, and North Carolina—soon after they received confirmation that Jean had tested positive for Coronavirus.



 

"You never feel farther away from a loved one than when you get news like that. I immediately got in the car and drove," Pat told The Washington Post. "If these were going to be mom’s final days, we all wanted to surround her," said Megan. Known as the "Scrabble Queen" among her kids, Jean's thirst for knowledge drove her to fulfill her lifelong dream of attending college at 60. With eight living children, 13 grandchildren, and eight great-grandchildren, she is the very backbone of the family. 



 

 

And so, for the first time in over 50 years, the O'Brien siblings found themselves living under the same roof again; one with a good dose of nostalgia. Given the urgency of the situation, they'd hastily booked an Airbnb near Jean's nursing home to be as close to her as possible and support each other through this difficult time. The one-bathroom Airbnb has flooded them with memories of their childhood when they all lived in the cramped confines of a three-bedroom house with just one shower. "In many ways, this experience has been a serious throwback," said 65-year-old Ellen O’Brien who made the trip from Baltimore. "Being here was something we all felt very strongly about."



 

For nearly two weeks, the O'Briens stationed outside their mother's window from the moment her blinds open in the morning until they close in the evening, dancing to her favorite songs and singing to her. "As strange as it is to be hanging out outside her window, we’re so grateful to be close to her and to each other," said Terry O’Brien. "We find ourselves doing the silliest things in front of that window. Anything to make her smile," said Megan.



 

"Seeing her and taking it in... I just started to cry. And she waved and she smiled and she even I could see her mouthing my name 'Megan'... She was more animated and it was just beautiful... It was absolutely what we were hoping we would be able to do. And bring to her," she revealed. Although she’s had good days and bad days, Jean's condition has significantly improved since her children arrived. "There’s been an amazing change in her demeanor since we’ve started sitting out here," said Tom O'Brien. "We can’t believe it."



 

The siblings had prepared themselves for the worst when they drove for almost an entire day across the country to reach their mother. "I honestly didn’t expect to arrive in time to find her alive,” said Pat O’Brien. Terry agreed, "Amazingly, she’s still with us. If she beats coronavirus at 101 years old, there’s no telling what else this woman can do."

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