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Love in the pandemic: How couples in nursing homes have strengthened their love in isolation

'If you pick 'em right at the beginning, everything works out fine.'

BEACHWOOD, Ohio — The COVID-19 pandemic hasn't been easy on anyone, but it has been especially tough on those isolated in nursing homes. Menorah Park residents Ralph and Selma Gwatkin, along with Jane and Ron Grossman, can attest to the struggles.

Jane and Ron met when she was just 12 years old. They have been together for 77 years and married for 66 years. Both couples are tales of true love.

"If you pick 'em right at the beginning, everything works out fine," Ron said. 

As for Ralph and Selma, they have been married to each other for 69 years. 

"We just had a lot of fun," Selma said. 

Both Ralph and Selma agree that this past year was one of the worst of their 69 years together. Each got and survived COVID in 2020, but in that time were confined to their room for more than a month. A lot of time spent together, but still they never get sick of being with each other. 

"We miss one another when she's not around," Ralph said. "I kind of wait for her to come back," he laughed. 

As for Jane and Ron, we met them last year (watch below) when we were looking for relationship advice. At the time, Ron said, "just know who's in charge!" pointing to Jane. 

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A lot has changed in that time, though. 

"I used to visit Jane at Menorah every day for the last two years," Ron said. "One day in March the nurse told me, 'You can't visit anymore.' It's heartbreaking." 

Jane is in assisted living at Menorah Park while Ron is living in a separate apartment. Throughout the pandemic, they've only been able to visit a few times in person but talk daily on the phone.

"I've been with him every day," Jane said. "When we're not together, I miss him." 

When asked what they will do when they reunite, Jane's answer was simple: "Be with him. I don't care where." 

Ron's response: Whatever she wants to do. 

Hopefully that reunion comes sooner than later. 

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