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Daffodils Acknowledge that Those Lost to COVID are not Forgotten
Marty Lyon conceived of the COVID Memorial Garden with Shelley Seibel, a fellow board member at The Senior Connection, as they searched for a way to honor close friends who had passed away during the pandemic.
Sunday, May 8, 2022


Sharon Bockemohle looked upon a bed of 4,500 Dutch Master Trumpet Daffodils, then spotted a plaque at the edge of the bed noting that it was a COVID Memorial Garden honoring Blaine County residents who had lost their lives due to COVID.

“That really makes me want to cry,” she said, thinking of her husband Lynn, who was one of the first Idahoans to pass away from COVID. “This is really nice thinking how someone has gone to all this work to remember those who lost their lives. It’s so special—I know Lynn would have enjoyed this.”

A hundred people gathered around for the dedication of the COVID garden Saturday during the inaugural Wood River Daffodil Festival at the Sawtooth Botanical Garden south of Ketchum.

Sharon Bockemohle, who sang at the festival with the Caritas Chorale, said she loved the idea of a garden to honor her husband Lynn and other community members who passed away due to COVID.

“For the past two years or more. the world has been under a dark cloud. The world has lost so many people, and Blaine County has not been spared,” said festival founder Marty Lyon, noting that the county had officially lost 29 of its residents to COVID.

Lyon noted that people around the world honor loved ones who have passed in a variety of ways, from lighting a candle on the anniversary of their passing to planting a tree in their honor to playing their loved one’s favorite song.

“Will 4,500 daffodils replace the companionship of those we’ve lost? Absolutely not. But they give us a chance to reflect on the person we’ve lost and how that loss has affected our community and how we can make the world a better place,” he said.

He looked over the bed as others stood quietly by.

Shelly Seibel, a trustee with the Senior Connection pressed for a COVID Memorial Garden after a fellow Rotary Club member passed away from COVID. Mardi Shepard, right, was among the donors who helped make it happen.

“And daffodils reproduce so these 4,500 daffodils here could be 8,000 or 9,000 next year.”

Sun Valley resident Karen Saks, a COVID survivor, recounted how she spent a month at St. Luke's in Twin Falls, relying on a ventilator to breathe in the early days of the pandemic.

"It was terrible to not have contact with anyone during that time," she said.

When she came home, she spent an additional six weeks on oxygen and had to go through physical therapy to regain her ability to walk and perform other tasks.

The garden is marked by a simple plaque.

"The upside is I learned what a caring community this is," she said. "I'm so grateful that they have planted this beautiful garden and provided us with a place of beauty by which to remember their memory."

This sea of 4,500 daffodils is expected to multiply and fill in next year.

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