Editor’s note: This story has been updated for changes that have occurred. Neighbor Ashley Lopez said she is now using the GoFundMe to collect money for funeral expenses for Minnie Howard.
After living more than a week trapped on her floor, being rescued by her neighbor and recovering at medical facilities, Minnie Howard died, Tuesday, Dec. 20.
Neighbor Ashley Lopez messaged The Lewisville Texan Journal to report the information. Mulkey-Mason Funeral Home confirmed she is there. Her graveside service will be held at 12 p.m. on Monday, January 2, 2017 at Flower Mound Cemetery.
On the Monday after Thanksgiving, Howard, 72, fell inside her home and wasn’t strong enough to pick herself up. She was unable to reach help for eight days as she laid on the floor without water to drink.
She was prepared to meet her creator if nobody found her in time, she said, and she sang hymns about death in a joyous tune to pass the hours.
Howard was stuck at her Creekside Mobile Homes residence from Monday, Nov. 28 until Tuesday, Dec. 6. Howard ate KIND Bars and portioned out a meal-replacement shake during her time on the carpet between her living room and kitchen until Lopez broke down the door to rescue her.
“I did not lose hope,” Howard said, “And it so happens I heard my front door being broken in before I heard the golden bells.”
The KIND Bars happened to be in two boxes within reach of Howard’s cane and she said she ate one a day after her shake was gone. Without any way to hydrate, Howard attempted to get moisture from the dark chocolate cherry cashew KIND Bars by eating them first.
An adequate daily intake of water for women, according to the Institute of Medicine, is about nine cups of water. Depending on the environmental conditions, sources suggest a person can survive three to ten days without water.
Maintenance worker Jose Espinoza said he and his colleague Rafael Rodriguez noticed they hadn’t seen Howard in awhile. Howard still had her late-rent notice on her door since she could not pay rent as the first of the month passed and she remained in place. They went next door to Lopez’s residence to see if anybody had seen Howard outside of her home at all. Lopez said she didn’t.
“I knocked on her door and I heard the words, ‘Help me,’” Lopez said. “I told her the door was locked and she told me to kick it down, so I kicked it down.”
Howard said she does not have a mobile phone and her cane wasn’t quite long enough to hook her landline.
“Mobile homes are very well-built, so no one can hear you yell,” she said. She hollered “Help!” and “Ayuda!” about 10 times a day. “Ayuda” is “help” in Spanish.
Howard had knee surgery the day after she was rushed to the hospital. Howard said the doctors determined she had broken her knee while on the ground. She said she also had lesions that formed on her skin because of her dirty floor.
“It got dirtier as I was lying there because you do continue to urinate and what have you and that’s not a good thing to be lying in,” Howard said. “You can’t wash yourself off. [I] couldn’t move to a cleaner spot.”
Howard said her television went out after three days of playing game shows. She was grateful it went out. “I got tired of those games. I did want to change the channel.”
Howard sang “Safe in the Arms of Jesus” to bide her time between napping and calling for help, she said. From her hospital bed, she spoke about various hymns concerning death.
“That was a song about dying, yet when you look up a song in the old song books,” Howard said, “there’s always a note saying, ‘Sing joyfully.’”
Howard said she has always been independent and has nieces and nephews but not kids. Her sister in Lubbock is the closest family she has.
“I hadn’t realized I was getting very weak and I really needed [a medical alert system],” Howard said. “That really snuck up on me. And I think most people think the same thing.”
Lopez said America is a place where the elderly don’t get taken care of very well.
“If [you] live by someone who’s older, watch out for them,” Lopez said. “There’s other people around you that might not act like they need help, but they do.”
Lopez, who didn’t meet Howard until the incident, started a GoFundMe for her in hopes of getting her home fixed up. She said she began cleaning it for her too. Rodriguez said he secured Howard’s broken door closed Wednesday, Dec. 14. The page was updated after 5 p.m. on Dec. 26 to state the funds will be directed towards Howard’s funeral expenses.