By MARINA WATERS
The COVID-19 virus has closed down schools, restaurants and major sporting events, but it hasn’t shut down Paul Boles’ love for his wife, Eleanor.
Paul has gone to see Eleanor every day since her arrival at John M. Reed Center in 2017. And though the center has not allowed the public to enter the community due to the recent health crisis, Paul walks up to the window and still visits with his wife even if it is only through glass.
“As soon as she saw him, her eyes opened great wide and her mouth flung open and she was waving at him,” said Brittany Boles, the executive director for the center who is also married to Paul and Eleanor’s grandson. “The other day he actually put his hand up to the window and she put her hand up to his. I think she just couldn’t understand why they couldn’t actually touch. But he just told her how much he loves her yesterday and pretty much every day. He said, ‘I cannot wait until I get to see you in person again.’”
Paul and Eleanor have been married for 68 years and will celebrate their 69th anniversary in May. During the three years Eleanor has been at John Reed, Paul has remained faithful by visiting with his wife day in and day out.
“He has come faithfully every day to see her,” Brittany said. “He visits a while and helps feed her as well. She doesn’t talk much anymore due to the progression of her Alzheimer’s, but as soon as she sees him, she knows exactly who he is. Her face just really lights up. It’s really precious to see them interact with each other even if it’s not through a verbal conversation but just through other emotions and expressions on their faces.”
That interaction has offered company to both of them, but it’s also helped lift the spirits of the staff and everyone around them, Brittany said.
“You’ve got to have that glimmer of hope in all of this tragedy that’s going on,” Brittany said. “It’s just been really sweet to see their love. It’s true love. That’s all I can say about it.”
For other residents, any interaction like phone calls, facetime sessions or even window visits are especially helpful to those at John Reed.
“I think it’s just important for them to know that their family members are still there, they still care, they still love them very much,” Brittany said. “I think it just gives not only Eleanor, but our other residents the opportunity to do that same thing with their families. It’s just that peace of mind to see their faces, know that they’re well and they’re okay and they still want to come and visit them regardless, even if they can’t come inside.”
The center also encourages people to write letters and send cards to the residents while physical visitation is closed. That, Brittany said, has often made their day and put a smile on each of their faces.
“We’ve got pen pals writing to our community right now,” Brittany said. “Of course, we’re sanitizing the cards and everything, but our residents just really enjoy having things to read and talk to different people and their loved ones. We’re just doing everything we can to make sure they feel loved and supported through this time because it is a really difficult time and we realize that for them.”
For more information on how to send mail to the John Reed Center, go to http://www.johnreedcenter.com.