SARASOTA, Fla. (WWSB) -You’ve heard countless stories about separation because of the COVID-19 pandemic but this one is about coming together.
Inspired Living facility in Sarasota gave an elderly couple a gift of a lifetime for their 69th wedding anniversary...to be able to hold hands after months of being apart.
The staff at Inspired Living facility in Sarasota wanted to start a hugging booth after a sister community launched the idea on the Suncoast.
Dan and Shirley Brabeck’s wedding anniversary was coming up and he was disappointed because the time slot to visit through the window was taken.
The staff decided to launch their booth just in time for them to celebrate and surprise them.
Dan and Shirley Brabeck are University of Minnesota college sweethearts. She was the homecoming queen and his fraternity brothers encouraged him to ask her out on a date.
“And Shirley used to tell this story. We met at the top of the ski slope and it’s been downhill ever since,” said Dan.
They got married in between their Junior and Senior year and now they’re celebrating 69 years together.
"I think I knew right away and it's proven to be correct," said Dan Brabeck in tears.
Before the pandemic they were side by side almost the entire time except of course when Dan was serving in Korea.
"I used to come over and see her every morning but I can't do that anymore because of COVID-19," said Dan.
Visits used to include car rides down by the beach then hey have turned into brief moments through a window, until now.
"First time I've held hands with her even through five layers of plastic," said Dan Brabeck.
A moment he’s been waiting for, for weeks.
"They call them the notebook couple here. Because he's just so doting on her," said Sandra Brabeck.
Shirley has Alzheimer’s disease. Dan turns 90 soon. They hope to make it 70 years together but say time isn’t promised.
"I love her she's my whole life and until she passes away she will always be my whole life," said Dan.
Moments like this are special for the two.
“That’s the highlight of my day. “I look forward to doing it. “And when I leave her I’m sad the rest of the day,” said Dan.
Dan hopes to be able to go back to daily visits soon...to take Shirley on drives and floss her teeth in the morning.
As for the hugging booth, that’s here to stay for the facility and they say the family of residents can book time slots.