As weeks turned into months, both Larry and Carol grew despondent.
“When it happened, and he couldn’t come anymore, he would call and talk to us and you could hear his depression,” said Sandra Ball, the activities director at Regency on the Lake. “You could see his wife’s depression.”
In June, Ball had a thought.
Regency on the Lake was looking to hire a part-time aide to help coordinate activities for residents. The job had been posted online for three weeks, but no one had applied. And Larry, who spent all of his free time at the facility before the pandemic, was already familiar with the activities program.
So, Ball called and offered him the gig.
He’d have access to the facility, but only during specific hours on certain days of the week.
His hiring would be contingent on the results of a physical and some medical tests.
If he passed, Larry would have to wear a medical-grade mask to work and submit to the same weekly COVID-19 tests that the full-time employees undergo.
“I said, ‘When do I start?’” Larry recalled.
He began work several weeks ago, reuniting with his wife for the first time since March.
On duty, he cooks for residents, plays music and organizes outdoor time, but spends his 30-minute lunch break – and some extra time each morning and evening – with Carol.
“She hadn’t hardly been out of her room since the COVID thing started, and she’s coming out now,” Larry said. “It’s not the same as before because I have to wear a mask and I’m supposed to keep my distance, and that’s hard.
“But, before, we were both worried that one of us would die without being able to see each other again,” he said. “And we feel much better now.”
Kate Elizabeth Queram writes for Route Fifty, which covers news, technology, innovation and best practices in state, county and municipal governments across the United States.