Family says loving spirit made Detroit missionary vulnerable to COVID-19

Posted at 6:33 PM, Apr 15, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-15 20:37:03-04

DETROIT (WXYZ) — This virus is not just claiming lives of people loved by many, it's forcing people to die separated from their loved ones.

Sarah Pyles from Highland Park may have been 86-years-old, but her family said she was vibrant. She traveled, volunteered in her community and went to church.

“My mom was amazing," said Jeff Pyles, Sarah's son. "An amazing mother, mother of five.”

Her family says it is possible that the fact people felt her love may have made her vulnerable to COVID-19.

“You just felt at home around her and loved. She loved so hard,” said her granddaughter Tarah Pyles.

It is hard to know for sure where someone contracts an invisible virus, but Sarah was a missionary for the Church of God in Christ. She went to a convention in early March in Detroit, put on for church leaders and members. Since then, many who went to the convention, including bishops and pastors, have died of COVID-19.

“Wherever she was, people swarmed around her," said Debi Pyles, Sarah's daughter-in-law. "They hugged on her. They loved on her because she loved so incredibly."

When she went to the hospital in March she was diagnosed with COVID-19 and put on a ventilator. Her family was not allowed to visit her. Jeff would stand outside his mom’s hospital room at Taylor Beaumont. He made signs the nurses would read to her. He sang as loud as he could her favorite song.

“The song is called 'My Help,' and I would sing that through the window," he said. "And the nurses would tell me, 'your mom, she hears you.' That was a blessing to me."

It is a blessing he has held on to as he grieved at a funeral home almost alone, with his daughter on FaceTime. She lives out of state and with stay-at-home orders in place, travel seemed imprudent.

Sarah was buried on Tuesday, April 15. A small group of loved ones watched from a distance, unable to be at the graveside because of policies in place concerning the highly contagious virus.

In honor of this, by all accounts, incredible woman, this family has a message. They believe in service.

Her son and daughter-in-law have continued to carry on Sarah's legacy of helping others, delivering meals to those who need them during this crisis. When they are not doing such work, they are staying home, not complaining about the inconveniences of the state's stay-at-home order.

“Inconveniences don’t compare to a loss of life,” Debi said.

Her daughter, Tarah adde, "It affects so many more people than we realize, so please stay home and don’t be selfish.”

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