An Oak Ridge couple is seizing a “window of opportunity” to be together during the pandemic.
OAK RIDGE, Tenn. — The COVID-19 pandemic caused nursing homes to restrict visitors before, and as cases rise in Tennessee a facility in Oak Ridge is reinstituting those safety guidelines.
One local woman is adapting to the new safety protocols at NCH Health Care. After several months without contact, Betty Richmond said she was overwhelmed with joy when restrictions at the nursing home were lifted and she finally got to see her husband in person again.
But right when they thought things were getting back to normal, they found themselves exactly where they started at the beginning of the pandemic — separated by glass.
“I have to do like this to see him. ‘Hey baby,’” Richmond said as she talked to her husband through his nursing home window.
After more than 65 years of loving each other, like many others, this couple is separated by the pandemic.
“It’s bad. I’m telling you it’s not no picnic. It’s not no picnic,” Richmond said.
Back in November, she said she found out she’d no longer be able to see her husband in the nursing home face-to-face. So, she put up a tent and said she sat outside the facility all winter, despite complaints from her family.
Richmond said she’s not going to let anything stop her. Not even the 90-degree heat. The nursing home only had open visitation for 32 days, she said, and now the nursing home is re-forcing visitor limitations to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
The couple’s devotion to each other is on full display outside nearly every day.
“Love is precious,” Richmond said.
Richmond told WBIR her husband’s body is almost completely paralyzed. He can only move his left arm, but he puts it to good use, she said. He tells her “I love you” in sign language through his window.
Richmond said no matter how hard the pandemic tries to break her, she’s not going to lose her spirit and she’s definitely not going to lose her devotion to her husband.
“I don’t want to lose you. I want to keep you as long as I can or until God calls you home and I’m pretty sure he’s not ready for you to come right now,” she said to him through the glass.
The couple is celebrating 66 years of marriage on Monday. It may be through a window this year.