BARCELONA: Since the coronavirus pandemic struck Spain, a glass pane has separated Xavier Ant and Carmen Panzano for the first prolonged period of the couples 65-year marriage.
Ant, age 90, appears three or four times a week at the street-level window that looks into the Barcelona nursing home where his 92-year-old wife lives, which closed to visitors more than a year ago to protect residents from Covid-19.
Employees from the home provide him with a chair and bring Panzano to the other side of the window. Ant shows her photos of their grandchildren on his phone to try to counteract the effects of her Alzheimers disease.
Both have vaccines against the coronavirus, but Spain’s nursing homes still are under tight controls after tens of thousands of the country’s oldest adults died in senior care facilities during the early months of the pandemic.
The couple met in 1953 and got married in 1955. Except for a spell early in their marriage when he worked away from home, they always were together.
We had never been apart, Ant said. Last March, the homes director told me that when I left I wouldn’t be able to come back because the local authorities had established some very strict protocols, At first, workers at the home made video calls on a tablet two or three times a week so he and Panzano could see each other, he said.
Then they set up a booth with a transparent divider, but I prefer this window because with the booth you were limited to a certain day, and then only had half an hour, Ant recalled.
Published in Dawn, April 22nd, 2021