Families drive by nursing home to see residents

If she could have jumped in the car with her family, Judy Britt would have done it in a heartbeat.

Being able to spend some time with them and eat dinner together would have made her day.

But the COVID-19 pandemic forced restaurants to close their dining rooms and restricted visitors at places like Seymour Crossing, where Britt resides.

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On Tuesday, though, she had the opportunity to see her family, even if it was from a distance.

Britt was among a majority of the Seymour senior health care facility’s 76 residents who sat in chairs or wheelchairs on the sidewalk around the building as family members and others in the community drove by in their vehicles.

Britt said the parade made her happy and sad at the same time — happy to see her family but sad that she couldn’t be close to them.

“It meant a lot to me for them to do this for us,” she said, referring to the facility’s staff members for organizing the event.

The parade was led by a Seymour firetruck and two Seymour police vehicles. Others participating were residents’ family members, the Boys and Girls Club of Seymour and a large group of motorcyclists.

Several of the residents made signs with messages to their families, including “I love you,” “You are my heart,” “I love you to the moon and back,” “You make my world spin,” “Stay safe out there” and “Waiting for the day we can visit again.”

Many of the family members also made signs, either placing them on the vehicle or holding them. Sign messages included “We miss you guys” and “Wish we could visit.”

“I saw somebody had done something like this on Facebook, and I tagged our activity director (Marty Root) in it, and I said, ‘Marty, can we do this?’ and she put this whole thing together. She’s just phenomenal,” said Jennifer Rogers, director of nursing at Seymour Crossing.

“All of the residents have customer care representatives, and since we’re not allowed to have visitors right now, we just contacted everybody to see what we could pull together,” she said. “They thought it was a great idea, and they wanted to see how it played out.”

She was happy to see several family members and others in the community participate.

“I just wanted to cry,” she said. “Well, I have been crying. We’re blessed every day. It was a beautiful day. The Lord is watching over all of us, and I just can’t even describe it.”

Rogers said it was great to see one of the residents who doesn’t speak react to seeing all of the motorcycles.

“I just hope they got some joy out of it for a little while, to know that we’re still thinking of them, that their families are still thinking of them and we’re going to make it through this,” she said.

Resident Sharon Newman sat in a chair at one corner of the building and smiled as everyone drove by. She held a sign reading “Thank you all for thinking of us.”

“It was really good,” she said. “It’s a great day, too. It made everybody smile. I think it was good for everybody. We were all together, and everybody got to get out. It made you feel good that people thought about you.”

Resident Vicki Pike was excited to see her daughter, Angie Norris, and her great-grandchildren.

“Of course, I cried a little bit when I got to see them,” Pike said. “I couldn’t get over all of the people. It was wonderful. So many people I knew. I was just so happy to see everybody. I thought it was so nice for everybody to come and see us. We needed something like that really bad.”

Resident Juanita Amos got to see her grandson, David Amos, and his girlfriend.

“Wonderful,” she said of how it made her feel. “I cried. I appreciate this very much. It filled my heart.”

Rogers was impacted by the event, too.

“I’ve just been standing over here waving at everybody and laughing and crying and thanking God. That’s all I’ve been doing,” she said. “We have the most amazing staff here. I’ve been here for over five years now, and these residents, they are my family, the staff are my family.”

After the parade, Steve Griffen and his daughter, Kayla Griffen, entertained residents by performing songs in front of the facility.

“That’s one of my lifelong friends,” Rogers said of Steve. “I contacted Steve, and they said they would come down and sing.”

This marked the second Tuesday in a row that residents were treated to a special event. The week before, the ASC Cavalry Horses of Hope visited Seymour Crossing, and residents were able to see the horses through their windows or pet them in the courtyard.

“I don’t know how we top it,” Rogers said of the past couple of Tuesdays.