Chaplains Safely Support Relationships in Residential Facility During Pandemic

James W. Patton, Vice President and General Counsel, Christian Care Communities
COVID-19 NBA Response Grantee

Christian Care Communities (CCC) is pleased to share this beautiful reunion love story of a wonderful Christian couple for whom we at CCC will always be thankful and proud to have met, served, and enjoyed as residents. Thank you is never enough for the COVID-19 NBA Response Grant that has helped sustain our Chaplains and spiritual care programming at CCC.

During this pandemic, our Chaplains have seen countless acts of love with families, residents, and staff. The stories are touching — none more so than Theron and Marcie Blankenship from our Hopkinsville, Kentucky, community.

Theron and Marcie met as factory workers in St. Louis, Missouri in 1949 and married in 1950. They were blessed with three children: a daughter and two sons. The business moved to Hopkinsville, Kentucky and the family followed. Together, they bought a small house and raised a thriving, Christian family there for 48 years. As they got older, their daughter, Terri, supported their daily living activities as caregiver. Then, her mom began to show early signs of dementia and her dad began to experience congestive heart failure.

In 2020, Christian Care Communities welcomed the Blankenships as residents at the Christian Health Center in Hopkinsville. Because of their various trips to the hospital — and the pandemic — they were quarantined separately and not able to see one another for several months. This separation was hard on the couple and the chaplain was not only a source of comfort but was able to organize Zoom video visits using a new iPad so they could enjoy their conversations every day.

Marcie’s increasing dementia made communication difficult, but she recognized her Theron most days and glimmers of fun reminiscence occurred often. One day, the pandemic protocols and testing allowed for the chaplain, an ordained Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) minister, and staff to reunite them for a brief visit. Theron was so excited to see his love Marcie after five months of separation. Red roses were in demand for the special reunion and Theron sat up as tall as he could to impress his bride when they were rolled together in wheelchairs that morning. Marcie’s mind was clear that day and she understood exactly what was happening. It was almost like one of their first dates in St. Louis so long ago!

Theron and Marcie Blankenship

After that, they enjoyed 33 joyful, blissful, abundant days together. Sadly, Marcie’s health declined quickly, and she passed away at age 95. Due to the pandemic, Theron was not able to attend his wife’s funeral; however, our chaplain once again was a light on a dark day and sat with Theron and held the iPad so he could watch Marcie’s memorial service – the love of his life for 70 years.

Theron says he misses Marcie immensely and enjoys regular visits from the chaplain who is supporting him through his grief, including arranging weekly Zoom video chats with family. Their daughter recently shared her appreciation of the chaplain and staff who helped orchestrate the reunion saying, “Our family is so grateful to Christian Care for the fine care and support they gave both my parents. We will gladly continue to support this organization in any way possible.”

Christian Care Communities is proud to serve families like the Blankenship’s with our Faith – Care – Family approach. The chaplains are a key component as they come alongside residents and their families with spiritual support, comfort, prayers, and friendship. They are trained to meet people where they are, listening, and assisting them through life’s journey. During the last year, their presence has been even more vital to those we serve.