OLATHE, KS (KCTV) — This week has brought joy and comfort into the lives of many seniors, who’ve been able to have family to their rooms for the first time in almost a year.
The last time Leonard Dunaway’s family visited him at Homestead of Olathe Memory Care was in November, and they had to meet on the porch. This time they were able to come to his room, which was special because of what he keeps there.
Dunaway’s son, John, and grandson, Eli, visited Monday. Eli entered first and gave his grandpa a big hug.
“He’s my buddy,” Dunaway said of Eli.
Leonard Dunaway says he wasn’t really alone over the past year. He had staff and other residents around, he said, and his family could visit by coming to the window. But the restrictions were especially hard when he lost his wife of 55years.
“She had that virus thing,” Dunaway said.
That was in April.
“I don’t think he really understood the virus situation until summer,” his son, John Dunaway said. “He didn’t understand why mom was just gone. I think her first symptom was a Saturday, and then she passed away the following Tuesday.”
“I didn’t get to go to the funeral because they wouldn’t let anybody out and they wouldn’t let anybody in,” Leonard Dunaway remembered. “Many times, I come in here, and I think she’s here. And I look and, well no, she’s not here.”
But he lights up when he can share his other love with visitors. That would be the St. Louis Cardinals.
Not long after getting a hug from Eli, he directed John towards the display case where he keeps his signed balls, bats and photos – including a ball signed by Ted Williams, Willie Mays and Stan Musial.
John Dunaway says his dad can be pretty single minded about the team whose games on the radio were his only entertainment in his small Missouri town.
Now he can once again regale visitors with the visual memories of his youth.
“They talk about things and tell about memories, what’s happened, and I talk about — see, I went to see the Cardinals 60 years,” said Leonard Dunaway, switching back to baseball mid-sentence.
He might not talk about much else, but look closely and you’ll see him gripping his grandson’s hand, making it clear this visit is valuable.
“It’s important to me because I miss him and it’s nice to be around him,” said Eli Dunaway.
“Eli is very special,” Leonard Dunaway added, looking up from his chair at his grandson. “He’s a very special boy. He’s my buddy.”
Homestead began allowing visitors over the weekend, following federal guidance recommending doors open. Visitors still have to get a health screening and a rapid COVID test before going in.
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