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A love story

A love story
A love story
Dr. Wayne Willis

“Amor omnia vincit.” — Latin poet Virgil

Seven years ago, at age 59, Steve Daniel was diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer’s disease. For the past year, he has lived in a memory care facility in Jacksonville, Fla. His wife Mary, until this March, visited him daily. In March, the facility called Mary to say that, because of the COVID-19 pandemic, they were going on lock-down and she would not be able to visit him again. Mary later said, “I didn’t even get to say goodbye.”

The pandemic kept them apart for 114 days, with two exceptions. Twice she was allowed to stand outside the room and see Steve through glass, but being separated by a window was upsetting to him. Mary said, “He just cried, so I decided not to do that again.” Visiting over Facetime also agitated him.

There has to be a better way, Mary thought, than to isolate a patient from all his family. “These patients are significantly declining because they are isolated. They are isolating them to save them, but the isolation is killing them.”

When the facility posted an opening for a part-time dish-washing job, Mary, even though she is the CEO of a small company, jumped at the opportunity. She told them, “I’m gonna be the best dishwasher you’ve ever had, because I want to be here.” Now, she mops floors, scrubs dishes, cleans the grill and visits with her husband two days a week.

When she walked into his room on the first day of her new job, 114 days after they had last touched, Steve gazed at her, wide-eyed. “Then,” Mary said, “he said my name and gave me a big hug.”

Mary uses her paychecks to do nice things for the staff.

Amor omnia vincit is Latin for “Love conquers all.”