Norman and Betty Jo Cash are thankful for the support of their auto glass and Windham, Maine communities.
“I had a serious bout with COVID, but I’m doing remarkably well, considering,” says Norman, 53. He and his wife, Betty Jo, 51, came down with the virus about the same time. While he required hospitalization, she was able to endure the virus at home.
With Norman in the hospital since October and just now coming home to recover, the Cash’s business, Onsite Auto Glass in Windham, Maine, has been closed. He says they immediately closed shop when he became ill October 15. The couple is unsure when they will reopen for business. “If I had my way about it, I’d be in there yesterday,” he says. However, doctors encourage him to stay home and continue to recover.
Betty Jo says her husband is detail-oriented. The company provides windshield repair and replacement, and domestic vehicle calibration services. “We’re about safety and doing things properly,” Norman says.
Norman went to the hospital on October 23, and, while he tested positive for COVID-19, he was told to return home and recover. Two days later, a friend who is a nurse drove him back to the hospital. “I just knew that something was really, seriously wrong,” he says.
At 6’2” and weighing 200 pounds, Norman was “super healthy” before COVID, but he says he encountered multiple setbacks while hospitalized. Even doctors could not understand why he experienced so many complications. He had multiple pulmonary embolisms, bacterial pneumonia and COVID pneumonia. He needed nine chest tubes at one point during his battle with the virus. Norman says his right lung also collapsed, then his left lung, and he needed surgery to recover use of his right lung. “I’m super thankful.”
“Seventy-four days later, I was finally released from the hospital,” Norman says. He came home after losing 60 pounds and had to relearn how to walk. He just stopped the use of oxygen, and says doctors would like him to regain weight before he returns to work. “I feel that I’m progressing a lot faster than they anticipated.”
Norman joined the auto glass industry 36 years ago. When he started Onsite 20 years ago, his business was completely mobile, but he eventually needed help. About 15 years ago, Betty Jo was a school bus driver and she began to help her husband with the business. “Now, we’re pretty good at it. There was a time I was surprised the doors still had hinges on them,” Betty Jo says of when the couple started working together. “By the grace of God” the couple got through.
Now Onsite is a brick-and-mortar shop in Windham, and the only auto glass company in the small town, Norman says. “We have such a supportive community around us,” he says. The support for him and his family when he was ill was “completely amazing.”
“I’ve always felt super thankful for where we are in life, but [the community support] just emphasized it so much,” Norman says.
The couple met through mutual friends, have been together for 29 years and married for 23. “We actually grew up in the same community and never knew each other until our 20s,” Betty Jo says. The couple has three children; son, Eric, who also contracted COVID-19 when they did, and two daughters, and a grandson.
Norman created the Anything Auto Glass Facebook page in January 2020 for technicians and industry members “to help one another.” Members of the group have also posted support and encouragement for his recovery.
Norman says that isolation during his battle with COVID-19 was mentally difficult. The hope of getting through and seeing his loved ones again encouraged him to get better. “I definitely underestimated the strength that it could grab you with,” he says of the virus.
“My God — one,” Norman says of what got him through the illness. “And knowing who’s waiting outside for me.”