‘I’m sorry I didn’t get the shot’: Former councilman pleaded for people to get COVID vaccine before he died
Joe Abston died Sunday less than two weeks after testing positive for COVID-19. He was 51.
PASCAGOULA, Miss. (WLOX) - Just days before dying of COVID-19, former Pascagoula councilman Joe Abston apologized to his wife, telling her he was sorry for not getting the vaccine.
Abston, 51, died Sunday after a short battle with the virus. Despite the shock and overwhelming grief she is enduring, Joe’s wife of nearly 30 years has been very open about her husband’s condition and how he got there. Missy Abston hopes that by sharing his story, it encourages as many people as possible to get vaccinated and take every protection available.
“When I said goodbye to him (Sunday) night, I’m telling you, it’s horrible,” she said. “I cannot believe that 10 days ago he was one of the healthiest people I knew.”
Missy says her husband was supportive of her and their two daughters getting the vaccine this past April. He even drove them to get it, she said. He, however, chose not to get it.
“We went and got it because we were at high risk, and we weren’t going to question it. I have a child with special needs and I have a child with a seizure disorder so we went and got it. And he took us to get it. I don’t know that he ever saw anyone get sick enough or saw that it was real or saw that a healthy person can get sick,” she said in a video posted over the weekend by Singing River Health System.
Joe spent 12 years as a city councilman and volunteered with numerous organizations over the year. Throughout Pascagoula, he was known for his giving spirit and his love of his community. He was also known for his love of sports, a passion which he channeled into supporting local sports teams as a referee for high school football.
“He walked to get into shape for football. He ran up and down the football field because he was a white hat,” said Missy Abston.
Despite living a very active life and being in good health, COVID quickly overcame the 51-year-old.
“It was just miserable,” said Missy, recalling the last week. “It still is. It’s still a shock. We’re still in shock. I just did the funeral plans, or started them. It’s the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do.”
One of the hardest parts has been the regret over not getting the vaccine earlier. It’s a regret that Joe had before he passed and one he wanted to make sure others didn’t go through.
“He said, ‘Oh, I’m so sorry I didn’t get the shot. Everybody needs to get the shot,’” said a tearful Missy. “Whether you think it’s going to work or not, if there’s a chance, he wished he would have taken that chance.”
Missy says she hopes no other family has to deal with the suffering that her family has dealt with.
“It is just horrible to think that that shot could of saved him but, even he said, ‘I wish I would have gotten that shot.’”
To encourage everyone who is unvaccinated to get the shot, Missy Abston has been speaking out about her husband. On Friday, just two days before Joe died, she sat down with Singing River Health System to share their story in the hopes that putting a face to the numbers will push anyone who is still on the fence about getting the vaccine.
“COVID is not picking and choosing, and this one is not like the last one. This wave is definitely different and stronger,” she said.
To help honor Joe’s final wish, Singing River Health System and the Jackson County Chamber of Commerce are hosting a “Do it for Joe” vaccine drive Thursday from 5-7pm in the parking lot of the Pascagoula Performing Arts Center on Tucker Avenue.
It’s an event that was planned before Abston died but now holds even more significance as his loved ones grieve his loss.
“God gives us the knowledge to be educated and that vaccine has been provided for us.... If you’re healthy, it doesn’t matter. Go get your shots because it’s not going to keep you from getting (COVID), but it may help you from being in this situation,” emphasized Missy.
Joe Abston is survived by his wife Missy and two daughters, Briana and Maggie. He served three terms as councilman and worked as the manager of finance for the Port of Pascagoula for 27 years, in addition to being a high school football referee and timekeeper for other high school sports. A well-known figure in Jackson County, Abston was a longtime member of Arlington Heights Baptist Church, the Pascagoula Country Club and the Pascagoula Elks Lodge. He was also passionate about Mississippi State University, and was an active member of the Coast Dawgs alma mater group.
Visitation for Joe will be held from 5-6:45pm Wednesday, Aug. 18, at Arlington Baptist Church on Market Street in Pascagoula. The funeral service will begin at 7pm at the church. A graveside service will follow Thursday at 10am at Machpelah Cemetery. O’Bryant-O’Keefe Funeral Homes are handling the arrangements.
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