Terry Adams (seated) with her daughter, Tina Shinault, and Ron Shinault, her son-in-law. (Courtesy photo)

“…It was Wednesday, early morning. I sat outside her room at the window in ICU. A wonderful nurse named Emily was there at my mother’s bedside. Emily was playing a song taken from Psalms 23 called ‘Safe in His Arms.’ Emily had the phone next to my mother’s (Terry Adams) ear as my Aunt Louise and I were saying our last words.  I perceived she was tired. I wanted my mother to know that I was there. Emily was holding her hand, and I said, ‘Mama, Emily is holding your hand for me.’ And just as my aunt and I finished saying my last our words, I watched my mother’s heart rate go down to zero. Mother had gone to be with the Lord, and she was completely healed.”

– Tina Shinault, daughter of Terry Adams

Terry Adams, 67, is counted among the Shelby County fatalities of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Like all of the coronavirus dead, she has a life story worth telling and a wealth of memories for loved ones to cherish.

“My mother attended Hamilton, all the way from elementary through junior high, and high school,” said Tina Shinault, a registered nurse working in hospice.

“After Hamilton, ‘Mother’ attended Tennessee Tech Vocational School for childcare. That’s the only work she has ever done and ever wanted to do.”

Of the seven children born to John Quincy Adams and Tennie Cleonia Holloway Adams, the youngest of three that survived to adulthood was Terry Adams.

“They had seven children, but there were four childhood deaths,” explained Adam’s sister, Louise Adams-Short. “I am the oldest, my sister, Mintie, was in the middle, and Terry was the youngest. Mintie passed away in 2013.”

Terry Adams (Courtesy photo)

Prior to contracting the novel coronavirus, Adams had experienced renal failure and was on dialysis.

“My mom called me Saturday while I was at work to let me know that she was sick to her stomach,” Shinault said. “She further told me she started feeling ‘tired’ on Friday, but she felt better when she laid down. …I gave her some instructions and told her to drink her protein shake to see how she would do. She was better when I got off work and I did not have to go over, as I was trying to social distance from my mom because I work in healthcare.

“She told me on Sunday she felt better, but on Monday evening she did not when I had gone by to check on her. She was able to drink her protein shake later that night.”

When Adams went to dialysis on Tuesday, the staff noticed that she was very quiet.

“That was out of character for her,” said her sister, Adams-Short. “She liked to talk a lot, and Terry was nosey. She was feisty and nosey. Terry wanted to know what was going on around her.”

Instead of the usual person that picked her up and dropped her off, Adams told dialysis staff she wanted her daughter, Tina, to pick her up. They called Tina, and she came right on.

Although there was no fever, Adams was shaking, weak and had a rasping cough that didn’t sound good to Shinault.

“Mother didn’t want to go to the ER, but I took her anyway to Baptist East. She had pneumonia brought on by complications from COVID-19.”

When she reached out at about 5 p.m. on Thursday to FaceTime with her mother, Shinault discovered her mother in respiratory distress. She called the nurse’s station to get someone there to help her mother. Her husband was with her on the call and the two of them read Scripture to Adams to help calm her.

That night, Adams underwent dialysis and her heart rate elevated. A nurse, Joey, got Shinault and her aunt on the phone in an effort to calm Adams and lower her heart rate. That effort failed and Adams was taken to cardiovascular ICU, early Friday morning.

Early Sunday morning, Adams’ heart stopped. Staff worked to get it started again and she was placed on the ventilator. On Monday night, Adams’ family found out from the doctor that her liver went into shock because of this.

Adams was able to Facetime with Shinault, her husband, her aunt, all her nieces, nephews and friends.

On Tuesday, a nurse placed the phone to Adams’ ear and Shinault played music from The Clark Sisters and others. It was a very pivotal time for Shinault because this was the time she felt peace, that it would not be long and that it was OK to release her mother. The next morning, one of the nurses, Emily, played “Safe in His Arms” for  Adams while Shinault and her aunt were on the phone.


“Because the Lord is my Shepherd,

I have everything I need.

“He lets me rest in the meadow’s grass

“And He leads me beside the quiet stream.

“He restores my failing health, and

“He helps me to do what honors Him the most,

“That’s why I’m safe in His arms…”


“Emily held her hand for me as I sat outside her room at the window, Shinault said.”

After Shinault and her aunt said last words, Adams died.

“There were a lot of nights and days spent talking with Mother on FaceTime. I appreciate all the wonderful nurses who made the FaceTiming possible.”

The doctors, nurses, respiratory, dialysis and all the hospital staff, Shinault said, were “so caring. They did everything they possibly could. Emily held mother’s hand in my stead as I spoke to Mother. Then, finally, it was time to let go. And thank God, she went in peace.”

Adams attended Holy Temple as a child. For many years, she was a member of Union Valley Baptist Church, serving as an usher and Sunday School teacher. Her last church home was A Worship Experience Christian Center, where she was a pulpit aide.

The wake for her was held last Thursday (April 16) at the Vance Avenue Chapel of R. S. Lewis and Sons Funeral Home. Observing social-distance requirements, only 10 people were allowed inside at a time.

Everyone was asked to wear a mask and no one was allowed to touch the body, in accordance to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention directives.

At noon the next day, a graveside service was streamed on Facebook Live.