A Birmingham husband and father of five who died after a brief battle with COVID-19 is being remembered for his kindness and his devotion to his family.
Earl Patrick Jr., 40, died Sunday, Sept. 5, just two days after he was admitted to Shelby Baptist Medical Center.
“I just can’t believe it,’’ said his wife, Britany Hubbart Patrick. “I’ve lost literally the love of my life.”
Earl and Britany had known each other 18 years and were best friends before marrying 10 years ago this month. Britany brought one child into the marriage and then had four children together with Earl.
“He truly loved me and our kids unconditionally,’’ Britany said.
Earl was a banker at BBVA where his wife said he was loved by his co-workers and administrators. “He was just an exceptional human being. People gravitated toward him easily,’’ she said. “Earl just had that personality…he could make a friend out of anybody.”
As a registered nurse, Britany said she knew the importance of her husband receiving the COVID vaccination. It was something she and his family pushed him to do, but he had a fear of needles and hospitals.
“I didn’t really know how severe it was until he checked himself out of the hospital the first time,’’ she said.
Earl came down with a cold in early August but tested negative for COVID and felt better. Then, on Aug. 12, Britany fell ill and was diagnosed with COVID on Aug. 17.
Britany was not only vaccinated early on but helped to deliver vaccines at UAB Hospital as part of her nursing duties. Both she and their 9-year-old son were diagnosed with the virus at the same time.
“He (Earl) didn’t care what we had. He took care of us,’’ she said. “He got diagnosed the next day but still had the energy to take care of us. He always put us first.”
Earl was hospitalized but didn’t stay in the hospital. He was readmitted on Friday, Sept. 3.
Britany had him admitted to Shelby Baptist Medical Center where she was working a second job as a contract nurse.
“It just happened so fast,’’ she said. “He rapidly deteriorated right before my eyes. It was so out of my hands.”
Because she was a nurse there, Britany got to spend time with Earl in his final days. “The administration was so kind to let me be with him, and it helped them out because there were so many people to take care of.”
The day after Earl was hospitalized, he was placed on a ventilator and immediately went into cardiac arrest. Britany said he coded at least six times before he died on Sunday.
“He was gone in less than 2 weeks,’’ she said. “On that Sunday, he just couldn’t hold on anymore.”
“If he had gotten a vaccine, it probably would have helped him fight this off better,’’ she said. “I mean you don’t know because this is new to everybody, but he may have had a fighting chance.”
Britany said she’s in shock over her husband’s death. “I’m a mixture of everything. I’m angry, I feel guilt, I’m just up and down. I didn’t expect him to not pull through,’’ she said. “I made a promise to him that if he would stay in the hospital, he would be OK and I feel like I let him down, let his family down. I know I let the kids down because he never came back home.”
Though children are resilient, Britany said the children obviously miss their father. “They think Daddy is going to come through the door and he’s not,’’ she said. “He’s never coming back.”
Aside from family and work, Earl loved to cook. Britany’s father, former Brighton Police Chief Ray Hubbart, bonded with his son-in-law over their passion for cooking and Britany said that’s one of the things made Earl stand out to her.
“My dad was proud to see someone fulfilling his role,’’ she said.
Britany said she wants Earl to be remembered for his goofiness, his laughter, and the lessons he taught others just by living life the way he did.
“He was just genuinely kind. He never held grudges,’’ she said. “He really was a man of God…a true example of someone who represented humankind in the best way possible.”