Woman, 73, studying nursing to visit husband in care facility during COVID-19

SONORA, Calif. (KMAX/KOVR) - A California woman is going to extreme lengths to see her husband in a nursing facility during the COVID-19 pandemic. She’s now studying to become a certified nursing assistant, just to get access to him.

At 73 years old, Linda Bland did not expect to be going back to school, but when the COVID-19 pandemic hit, she went from visiting her husband, Jim, daily at his Sonora, California, nursing facility to being forced to say hi to him from outside his window.

Linda Bland, 73, is studying to become a certified nursing assistant, just to be near her husband of 26 years, a retired Tuolumne County Sheriff’s lieutenant, who has Parkinson’s and dementia.
Linda Bland, 73, is studying to become a certified nursing assistant, just to be near her husband of 26 years, a retired Tuolumne County Sheriff’s lieutenant, who has Parkinson’s and dementia. (Source: Linda Bland, KMAX/KOVR via CNN)

“I love him so much. He’s the love of my life,” Bland said.

The couple tried visiting together in-person with Jim in a sealed booth for safety, but it only caused more confusion for her husband of 26 years, a retired Tuolumne County Sheriff’s lieutenant, who has Parkinson’s and dementia.

So, Bland is now studying to become a certified nursing assistant, just to be near her favorite patient.

“I needed to do something because you don’t know when it’s going to be over, and I don’t want my husband to die without knowing that I am here,” she said. “I think he would do the same thing for me.”

During her orientation Thursday, she spent her break holding Jim’s hand for the first time in a year.

“He looks at me and said, ‘Oh, you look like her,’ and I say ‘Your wife?,’ and he said, ‘Yes.’ And I said, ‘I am your wife. I’m Linda.’ I started crying,” Bland said. “I said, ‘I love you a lot,’ and he said, ‘I love you, too.’ He was so happy, you could tell.”

The CNA course is two months long. After that, Bland will take a state test to get certified. Even if she doesn’t pass, she says it’s still worth it to be able to see her husband.

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