"I walked into his room and he said my name, he said Mary, which was also a relief," said Mary Daniel about her husband Steve.
Editor’s note: This article was originally published on July 17, 2020. It has since been updated.
True love can traverse all difficulties, we hear growing up, but in real life that seems like a fantasy. However, there are real couples in the world who are able to climb a mountain that a problem is posing just so they can spend some time with their partner.
The pandemic forced many families to stay apart, especially if one of them stayed at a nursing home. People married for decades, grandchildren, and grandparents, it affected everyone. And, not everyone was able to find solutions around it. Seeing each other through windows isn't enough for some people and one of those is a Jacksonville woman, Mary Daniel.
Mary had been unable to see her husband of 24 years, Steve, for 114 days since the pandemic. Before Gov. Ron DeSantis issued an executive order in Florida in March 2020 stopping visitations at nursing homes, Mary went to see her 66-year-old husband, who has early-onset Alzheimer's, every day, as per PEOPLE. However, one day she got the news that she can't do that anymore.
"I went to see him every single night, got him ready for bed," Daniel told TODAY. "I went in on March 10 and on March 11, they called and said, 'You can’t come back.'"
Her husband lived in a memory care unit of a nursing home, Rosecastle at Deerwood, for almost a year. It was hard for him to go but eventually, the couple decided that it was for his good. He was thriving in an environment where he could socialize.
After the executive order was issued, Mary tried to go and see him through the window but it only made him cry. He could not understand what was happening and then the 57-year-old devoted wife came up with a brilliant plan. She reached out to the nursing home staff to ask if they had a volunteer position or a job she could take up, just to see her husband again.
"They said, 'Let’s wait to see what happens,'" Mary recalled. "Then, out of the blue two weeks ago, they called and said, 'Do you want a job?' When I found out it was as a dishwasher, I thought, 'Well, okay! I guess I'm a dishwasher now.'"
She took up the job without batting an eyelid. "I told them, 'I'm gonna be the best dishwasher you've ever had, because I want to be here, because I need to be with him,'" she told CNN.
Earlier, she used to be able to help him get ready for bed each night, and then they would watch TV together. "That was our set routine and then all of a sudden I'm gone," she said. "And he doesn't know why. He can't understand why."
The $9-an-hour job allowed her to see her husband twice a week and hold his hand, as per The Palm Beach Post. This unlikely job became her dream job at the time. But, before she could be hired, she underwent multiple tests to ensure that she wasn't infected. Mary also wanted to use her paychecks to do something nice for the staff.
She started working at the nursing home on July 3 and her husband recognized her, as per CNN. "I walked into his room and he said my name, he said Mary, which was also a relief," she said. "So when he said, Mary, and gave me the biggest hug, I mean, we both cried."
Steve became a lot calmer after they got to meet regularly and he showed his love for her too. "He came up from behind me and put his arms around the front of me ... which is an incredible feeling," she said. "So, he knows who I am. There's no question, he knows who I am even in a mask."
The woman had a heartbreaking message for the Governor of the state. "It's incredibly sad to see that these patients are significantly declining because they are isolated," she said. "We are isolating these patients to save them, but the isolation is killing them."
This world needs more people like Mary!
Cover Image Source: Facebook | Rosecastle at Deerwood Nursing Home