URBANDALE, Iowa — Most families with loved ones in long-term care homes have long since reunited. But for one couple in Urbandale, the feeling of being back together again is still new. Their facility was one of the last in the state to reopen its doors after a COVID-19 outbreak forced the home to go back on lockdown.
Sharon McGraw has worn a path outside her husband, Bob’s, window.
“I’m no super hero, but I missed one day from March 10 to today,” said McGraw.
That’s every day, but one, since March 2020. She has visited her husband outside his window at Urbandale Health Care Center.
On this April day, the couple was still separated by glass.
“He always wants me to come in,” said McGraw as her husband waved at her from inside.
McGraw comes with messages of love and encouragement in hand. One sign reads, “Some day we can hug lots of times every day.” In addition to the signs, there are family pictures.
“I just want to make sure he knows who they are in the picture. Some days he doesn’t quite know everybody, but he has done pretty well,” explained McGraw.
Her husband of almost 67 years suffers from dementia. Like anyone who loves someone whose memory is fading, she wants him to remember the faces that matter for as long as possible.
After a quick visit, she holds up a sign telling Bob that she loves him and will be back tomorrow afternoon.
“Sometimes he would cry. Sometimes I would cry. It is hard,” said McGraw.
You won’t see any tears on this visit. McGraw was one of the first in the door when the second lockdown was lifted.
“It’s just such a great feeling to be able to be in and be with him,” she said.
The couple’s son from out of state came along for the visit. He says he’s not at all surprised that his Mom made sure to visit his Dad every day for the past year.
“I was thankful to see her do that every day. I’m not so sure I would have done it every day,” teased Greg McGraw.
“That’s what you do when you get married. You know, you commit to be with each other. I probably did it for myself maybe than for him,” she explained.
McGraw is once again committed to being at her husband’s side as life slowly returns to normal.
They are making up for the precious time together they lost this past year. Just happy that the “Some day we can hug lots of times every day” has finally come.
“It feels wonderful. It does feel wonderful,” she said.
McGraw tells us she and Bob would not have made it through the past year without the help, support and care from their adopted family at Urbandale Health Care Center.