‘Bittersweet’: As couple gets COVID vaccine, man honors parents lost to virus 9 days apart

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Parents died from COVID-19 in December

WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) — A Kansas couple finally got their COVID-19 vaccine Thursday morning, months after losing their loved ones to the disease.

“It’s kind of a bittersweet thing for me because I was ready for it so I can be with them,” Kris Hotchkin reminisced about his parents.

Hotchkin lost his parents, Darrell and Phyllis Hotchkin, to the virus in late December.

“They were not only my mom and dad, but my best friends,” Kris Hotchkin said.

Darrell and Phyllis Hotchkin died just two weeks before their vaccine dates.

“(Mom) was looking so forward to this vaccine so we could all be together and so she could get her hugs and kisses that she loved so much,” Kris Hotchkin recalled.

He and his wife, Arlene, made sure his parents did not miss the moment they got vaccinated. As the couple got their first dose, they held photos of his parents.

“A lot of encouragement for people to did it. To go out there and get the shot to protect their loved ones,” said Arlene Hotchkin.

Unlike many seniors who passed away alone during the pandemic, Darrell and Phyllis Hotchkin had family members working in their senior center, including their daughter and granddaughter.

Their daughter, Terresa Stewart, was by her mom’s side when she died. Her dad passed away nine days later.

“I got diagnosed with COVID, so I was quarantined. I wasn’t there when we lost Dad, and ultimately, because of COVID, I wasn’t even able to go to their funerals,” Stewart said, with emotion in her voice.

Darrell and Phyllis Hotchkin were together 57 years when they died. Their family members are now getting vaccinated in their honor and encouraging people to do their part in fighting the pandemic.

“As a health care worker and as a granddaughter losing both of her loved ones within nine days of each other, I would ask people to take this seriously,” said Lynnda Pappan.

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