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Families reflect on the past year

Without a doubt, the senior community has been highly affected by COVID-19 over this past year.

Many safety precautions were put in place in order to reduce the spread of COVID and keep seniors safe. This had an emotional effect on not only those seniors, but their families as well. Life changed instantly, and nobody could predict what would come of it. Rod Farmer, the son of resident Gene Farmer, and Marilyn Bailey, the daughter of resident Nolene Whiteside, were kind enough to share their experiences since the country went into a state of emergency.

Marilyn Bailey

This past year our family, like so many other Presbyterian Village families, has felt like we were on a roller coaster. Many times, it was easier to see the glass as half empty.

Travel and family times cancelled, no hugs, no visits and constant worry about when or if COVID would hit our loved ones — especially our mom, Nolene Whiteside.  

However, with the ongoing and tremendous support and love of Presbyterian Village staff, we found ourselves seeing the glass fill up. The most significant boost in spirit and change for our mom and for us was when we welcomed the Alexa Echo Show into our family!  The addition of this technology could not have happened without Presbyterian Village’s assistance and, we are forever grateful and thankful for the Village helping get that set up. Now we all can see, talk and laugh with our mom!  

Gene Farmer, his son Rod, and his grandsons often visited their favorite quail hunting spots. They’re looking forward to return trips in the fall.

By far, the biggest joy now is watching our mom’s face light up as she tells of her wild and noisy Alexa visits with her great-grandchildren.

Rod Farmer

We first learned of the pandemic while we were vacationing out of the country during the first week of March. We did not understand the seriousness of this virus, but after a few weeks we felt a strong urge to be home and safe with our immediate family.  

Initially, it didn’t occur to me that we would not be able to visit my father, Gene, in his apartment at Presbyterian Village or my stepmother, Ruth, in a skilled nursing facility. Before the pandemic was announced, I had been making weekly visits from Olathe to go visit both. CDC guidelines were put in place, and we were unable to have lunches together, go on long country drives, check out the farms or revisit our special quail hunting locations.

Gene Farmer surrounded by his large family

My father would go visit his wife, Ruth, every afternoon, but these visits had to cease for safety reasons.   Ruth became very ill and passed away in December. My dad was only able to visit her a couple of times before her passing. Ruth’s funeral was a very small private family service at her gravesite.  

The pandemic has imposed many hardships on our family and my father’s health. We’ve had to cancel traditional family gatherings and more. We miss those face-to-face interactions and much-needed hugs and kisses. We look forward to when this pandemic has run its course. The good news is that we will appreciate our health and face-to face meetings with family and friends more than ever!  I would like the thank the entire staff at the Presbyterian Village for their efforts in taking care of my father during these very difficult times.  

Gene Farmer enjoyed visits with his family prior to the pandemic.
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