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Cruel separation of a life-long partnership

“I love her, like I loved her 65 years ago. She still knows I’m her husband.”

 

Joan and I spent our 63rd Wedding Anniversary together in the garden of her care home on 23rd March. How lucky we were, the day before lockdown. Would we later be able to use the garden, the visiting room the Manager hoped to be able to set aside?

No such thing. Window visits only. I had to kneel down to speak to her through the crack in the window and I’m 83 years old. Joan would run to the window when she saw me, but couldn’t understand why I couldn’t go in and after five minutes turned away. That made me feel so sad and depressed so I cut those visits down to twice a week.

Joan would ask me, ‘Have you come to take me away from here?’ ‘Where to?’ I’d say. She replied, ‘I want to go where you go.’ But she could see me driving away in my car. I used to weep driving away from those visits. I feel so sorry for her, I worry about her mind, what she thinks about when I’m not there.

Brendan and Joan

I long to be able to visit for as long as we want, to sit next to her holding her hand, playing games, to take her for a ride in our car, visit our daughter, just have a meal at home.

Since our anniversary, it would be six months until I saw her again properly. My visits in the conservatory surely could have happened earlier. I can’t wait for the pandemic to end so I can give her a cuddle. Even in PPE I can’t touch her, not even with gloves on to help her out of her chair. If there’s a second spike there must be a visitor room, otherwise it is just too cruel.

This six months has been hell. Joan must have missed me greatly and it must not happen again. Something must be in place in care homes to let us see our loved ones. Joan is now moving to a care home in our village, where I can walk over and see her, hopefully every day. I don’t care about anything else, only being with Joan.

 

R&RA are campaigning to End Isolation In Care. Find out how you can get involved here.If you have been affected by the issues raised in this story, or would like advice or support on visiting your relative or friend in care, our helpline is here for you.

“R&RA Helpline workers, Emma and Trevor, were a good help to me and good to talk to.”


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