Husband celebrates quarantined wife’s 69th outside Oberlin nursing home window

Kristin Bauer | Chronicle
Linda Robinson, a resident of Welcome Nursing Home in Oberlin, puts her hand on the glass to meet her husband of 47-years, Gary, while he was visiting to celebrate her 69th birthday.


Their hands were pressed against opposite sides of the glass, so near and yet far apart.

“I love you, birthday girl,” Gary Robinson told his wife through the window.

Wearing a tiara, Linda Robinson celebrated her 69th birthday last Tuesday, quarantined inside Welcome Nursing Home on East Hamilton Street.

Family gathered outside to wish “Granny” happiness and blow kisses, and even slid an ice cream cake inside.

The Robinsons, of Amherst, will celebrate their 47th wedding anniversary on Aug. 4.

They laughed at the forced separation — “It’s giving me a little bit of a break,” Gary quipped — but despite the bravado were clearly upset they couldn’t share hugs.

“We have to live through these times ’til they right this ship back up. It might be a while,” Gary told Linda.

“I don’t have time to wait for a ship,” she replied.

Linda suffered a heart attack 23 years ago and never fully recovered. Gary took care of her until four years ago, when she moved into Welcome Nursing Home.

He was so worried about the outbreak and the governor’s order to stay at home, he had thought about skipping Linda’s party this year. His niece, Anna Turner, convinced him that wasn’t acceptable.

“It’s uncharted waters, but it is what it’s got to be. I understand it,” Gary said, standing outside his wife’s window.

He had gifts in hand — a quilter and embroiderer, Gary has made 30 cloth face masks for Welcome staff to wear.

They aren’t the N-95 respirators being used by hospitals, or even surgical grade, but anything is better than nothing, he said.

Heidi Freas, director of quality assurance at the nursing home, said the cloth masks will be fitted with filters and used by employees who don’t show any symptoms of COVID-19 infection.

“Right now, we have sufficient (protective gear), but looking ahead that’s not going to last,” she said.

Supplies are running thin all over the state. Welcome had not received a new delivery of protective equipment in four weeks, Freas said.

“We have to be diligent right now,” she said.
She’s also reached out to the fabrication labs at Lorain County Community College and the North Ridgeville Schools to have headbands 3D-printed for face shields.

They’ll be used to affix plastic masks that stretch below the chin, protecting against infection through the eyes or mouth.