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With so much negativity dominating the news cycle when it comes to the coronavirus outbreak, where networks display a running total of those who contract the virus, and those who die, a story out of New York — the epicenter of the pandemic — is just what America needs.
Jean and Walter Willard have been nearly inseparable for 70 years, after marrying when they turned 20 years old. That is, until the coronavirus emerged out of Wuhan, China.
At the age of 91 and 89, respectively, Walter and Jean have seen many things over the course of their lifetimes, but few rival the effects of COVID-19, which forced the couple to spend months apart, CBS 6 Albany reported.
But that all ended when they were reunited last Thursday at their nursing home in Troy, New York.
“Oh honey, I’m so happy to see you!” Jean is heard telling Walter as they hug, kiss and hold hands in a video taken by staff.
After spending months apart due to the coronavirus pandemic, 89-year-old Jean and 91-year-old Walter Willard, who have been married for 70 years, were reunited at their nursing home in Troy, New York. pic.twitter.com/wrdGDEbLjH
— CBS This Morning (@CBSThisMorning) May 21, 2020
Daughters Wendy Willard and Wanda Glenn spoke to the CBS affiliate and said their parents were always in good health until Jean fell and broke her pelvis last year.
The accident and early signs of dementia landed her in the Eddy Memorial Geriatric Center in Troy, CBS 6 reported.
Located just around the corner from their home, Walter would go visit every day.
“My dad would go over there every day and spend most of every day, in the beginning, he was there all day from the morning until night when she went to bed,” Willard said.
But that all ended with the coronavirus pandemic, which prompted a lockdown at the nursing home.
The daughters said Jean would cry and ask for Walter, who was unable to visit, and in an indication that sometimes love does keep us alive, they said their father didn’t fare well either.
“He went downhill so quickly when he couldn’t see her,” Willard said.
Walter would soon suffer a fall himself, causing a brain bleed. After surgery, he went to a rehabilitation facility, and even though his family was desperate to reunite them, pandemic protocols prohibited Walter from moving into Eddy Memorial Geriatric Center, according to CBS 6.
Willard wrote a letter to the facility’s director beseeching him to make an exception, and he reportedly had a change of heart.
“I told him what we were afraid of, we’re afraid we’re going to lose one of them and they’re never going to have seen each other again, and I asked ‘is there anything you can do? We’re willing to take the risk, my dad is willing to take the risk.’” she said. “He immediately called me and said absolutely we want to do this for you!”
Ending on a happy note, the couple now shares a room at the facility.
Here’s a sampling of responses to the story from Twitter:
“I’m feeling better now” pic.twitter.com/Xk59vI59Tu
— Greg Nicholson, Jr (@gnich62) May 22, 2020
It’s like The Notebook came to life.
— Richard (@sonofol29) May 22, 2020
I can hardly stand to watch the poignancy of this moment. THIS is what blind bureaucracy has been doing to families by keeping them separated. There had to and has to be a much better way!
— Sherry Hanna (@sherryhanna53) May 22, 2020
My in-laws went into AL just before the pandemic. She needed skilled nursing. He didn’t. They have been separated ever since. I hope they can be reunited soon.
— Brit Raisin’ Hell in Texas (@RaiseHellTexas) May 22, 2020
Who’s cutting onions? 😭❤️😭❤️😭❤️😭
— Natalie 🇨🇦 (@iliveasnatalie) May 22, 2020
Wow this hit me right in the feelings 😢
— Rhino (@RMobry) May 21, 2020
Just when you’re convinced Twitter is worthless. Twitter’s still worthless, but this is as sweet and encouraging as it gets. ❤️
— Kyle Martin (@kylemartinvol) May 22, 2020
God bless this sweet couple! So glad they weren’t of the number that lost their lives over the terrible policies of NYC Governor Cuomo. And what is this CBS? A story to throw ppl off the real story of what happened in these nursing homes? It should be the top story of Covid19!
— Beth Bender (@BethBen59093784) May 22, 2020