By Christina Zdanowicz, CNN
Marg Makins’ family has been in the trucking business for generations. As she watches the crowds of truckers protest vaccine mandates across Canada, she wants to tell them about her son who died from Covid-19.
David Mitchell, 70, was a veteran trucker before he died on October 15, Makins said. She says her son was not vaccinated.
“It’s a horrible thing to watch somebody die of this disease,” Makins, who lives in a small Ontario town, told CNN on Tuesday. “I’m hoping (these truckers) can hear what I have to say and how bad Covid can be and maybe save somebody in their family or even themselves.”
Thousands of Canadian truckers are in their second week of protests against a mandate requiring drivers entering Canada to be fully vaccinated or face testing and quarantine requirements. The group also opposes other restrictions, like mask mandates and Covid-19 lockdowns.
The protests stemmed from the “Freedom Convoy” of truckers, which traversed the country before arriving in Ottawa, crippling the capital city.
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has said these protesters represent a “small, fringe minority.” Nearly 90% of Canada’s truckers are fully vaccinated and eligible to cross the border, according to the government.
‘Now all of my children are gone’
Mitchell was sick in bed for days before he was first taken to the hospital, Makins said. He was released after some testing.
“He looked very ill to me,” Makins said. “He was in bed in a great deal of pain and couldn’t even reach for his cell phone.”
His condition didn’t improve even a week later. On September 18, he was having difficulty breathing and moaning in pain, Makins said. He was readmitted to the hospital and immediately put on a ventilator, she said.
Mitchell was given paralytics, which are used to prevent patients from moving while on a ventilator. He could not even move his eyes or hands, Makin recalled, in tears.
“I spent many, many days and nights with his children at the hospital,” Makins said. “I stayed overnight as well and never, ever was able to get any response from him.”
When the family decided to take him off the ventilator, Mitchell died within minutes, with his mother and loved ones holding his hand.
Makins lost her last surviving child that day.
Mitchell was Makins’ oldest child; she lost her son Bruce in 2020 and her daughter Jane in 2010, both to cancer.
“Now my children are all gone,” she said. “It’s sort of the wrong way around. It’s not the way it’s supposed to be.”
Mitchell leaves behind two sons, a daughter and five grandchildren.
‘My son was not an anti-vaxxer’
Mitchell never got vaccinated, but it wasn’t because he was against the vaccine, according to his mother.
“My son was not an anti-vaxxer, he just claimed he didn’t have the time — and if he was here, he would be sorry, wouldn’t he,” Makins said. “He knew that he should get it, but he just didn’t get around to doing it.”
Mitchell worked a lot, driving across Canada and sleeping in his rig. He often brought his dog, Bull, along for the ride, his mom said.
His fellow truckers called him a legend, Makins said. Mitchell became a trucker when he was around 19 and was still working at age 70, until he fell ill, she added.
“He was very likable. Wasn’t very good with the dollar. He spent everything (or) gave it away if he couldn’t spend it on himself,” Makins said. “He was funny, curious, always had a joke.”
Makins’ entire family was vaccinated, except for Mitchell and one of his sons, she said. Makins has received both doses of the Covid-19 vaccine and a booster.
Makins said she does not understand why some truckers are refusing the vaccine. The situation is starting to “anger” her.
“They’re shutting down the economy of our country and (the United States),” Makins said. “It is really disruptive. All kinds of people, nobody can go to work or use those roads. Trucks can’t get through with their cargoes, so it’s time they went home.”
She added: “Freedoms are privileges.”
Makins comes from a long line of truckers. Her father owned a trucking transport company. Her brothers and both her sons were all truckers, she said.
She hopes her message can save others’ lives and spare families from this pain.
“You don’t ever deal with it, you just learn to cope,” Makins said of her loss. “I would just like to spare other mothers, other families and other friends” from the grief.
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