Donna Whitehead firstname.lastname@example.org
May 27, 2020 at 10:54 AM
May 27, 2020 at 11:01 AM
Three weeks ago, Jennie Stejna was the first to test positive for coronavirus in her Wilbraham nursing home.
EASTON — Shelley Gunn of Easton describes her Polish grandmother, Jennie Stejna, as having a feisty spirit. Stejna certainly displayed that spirit as the 103-year-old woman recently survived a bout with the coronavirus.
“She always had that feisty fighting spirit,” Gunn said. “She didn’t give up.”
Shelley and Adam Gunn recently moved to Easton from Seattle, Washington, settling in their new home on Feb. 14, Valentine’s Day. Adam just retired from the Navy and is going to Simmons University for a master’s degree in social work. Gunn is a hair stylist who was about to seek work in the area when all nonessential businesses closed in mid-March.
Gunn said the family has taken the stay-at-home advisory seriously, but has made new friends in Easton through Facebook. She hopes to soon enroll her daughter, Violet, 4, in kindergarten.
Gunn grew up in western Massachusetts and one of the first things she did with Violet was to visit Stejna at the Life Care Center of Wilbraham. She had told Violet a lot of stories about her great-grandmother.
“I wanted my daughter to have a memory of her,” Gunn said. “It was the first Saturday in March. The next day they stopped allowing visitors into the home.”
Three weeks ago, Stejna was the first to test positive for coronavirus in her nursing home, Gunn said. She had a low-grade fever and was moved to a separate ward.
Gunn said Stejna didn’t really grasp or understand COVID-19, but did know she was very ill. Gunn said there was always a staff member by her side.
As Stejna’s condition worsened, Gunn said they called to say what they thought were their final goodbyes. She thanked Stejna for everything she had done for her. When Adam asked if Stejna was ready to go to heaven, she replied, “Hell, yes.”
But on May 13, Gunn said she got good news — Stejna had recovered.
“This feisty old Polish grandmother of ours officially beat the coronavirus,” Adam said.
“We’re truly very thankful,” Gunn said.
The staff gave Stejna an ice cold Bud Light to celebrate, something she loved but hadn’t had in a very long time, Gunn said.
Stejna was the first resident in the home to recover. They still have 33 cases of the coronavirus, Gunn said.
Stejna has lived all her life in western Massachusetts. Her husband, Teddy, died in 1992 at age 82. Married in 1938, they were together for 54 years.
Gunn grew up 10 minutes from her Babci (“Grandma” in Polish) and Dziadziu (“Grandpa”).
“They owned a house on a lake in Indian Orchard, Mass.,” Gunn said.
Her summers were spent with her grandparents swimming in the lake, running in the sprinkler and going for ice cream.
Stejna was also always cooking Polish dishes, a skill she taught to Gunn.
She was an avid Bingo player, enjoyed reading and loved to crochet until she got arthritis. Gunn said she has quite a few blankets Stejna made. She is also a “hardcore Boston sports fan.”
“She used to sit outside and listen to the Red Sox on the radio,” Gunn said.
Stejna has two children, three grandchildren, four great-grandchildren and three great-great-grandchildren, Gunn said.
Reach Donna Whitehead at email@example.com