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Couple Separated by Coronavirus Visits Through Window, Recalls Their 1946 Prom

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If Sherry Casagranda had to pick one word to describe her parent’s love story, “devotion,” would be her choice. 

The couple’s devotion was on full display last week, when they stood in front of a glass door, each holding a phone up to their ear, reminiscing on their 1946 prom. 

“I can remember the day you asked me to prom,” Betty Ravenelle said to her husband Bob. 

Bob suffers from dementia and is living at the Mystic Healthcare and Rehabilitation Center. After more than 74 years of loving each other, the couple is separated because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“When you are 90-years-old and you are separated like this, it just does not seem right,” said Casagranda. “The last few years of your life should be happy.”

All nursing homes in Connecticut are currently closed to visitors to prevent the spread of COVID-19. 

Because of Bob’s dementia, it is important for him to see Betty’s face, making phone conversations more difficult. 

“It brings a little bit of stability into both of their lives, especially his and that is what you need when you have dementia,” said Casagranda. “It is hard for us to imagine because we keep so busy and we keep in touch with each other, but for them it has been very challenging.”

A tablet for video chatting was too expensive for the family to buy so the couple improvised by having a window visit. Betty stood outside and Bob sat in a wheelchair inside the nursing home.

In the video of their visit, posted by Mystic Healthcare and Rehabilitation Center, the couple laughs about Bob asking another person to prom at the same time he asked Betty. 

A staff member chimes in, “you made a good choice for your prom date.”

“Boy, did I,” said Bob. “Did I.” 

Wednesday afternoon Neil Ryan, owner of a Wireless Zone store in Groton, donated a tablet to the nursing home so that Bob and Betty can start video chatting. He and other community partners are looking for more senior homes to donate tablets to as part of a community-driven Tablets for Seniors donation drive. 

“Now it is just a virtual window, so to speak, instead of a physical one,” said Ryan.

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