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Wife brings Easter joy to husband living at Vancouver adult care home

Carol Bailey wanted to celebrate Easter with her husband Hal even if they couldn't spend it close together.

VANCOUVER, Wash. — Hal and Carol Bailey met while stationed in the Air Force in the 1950s. She fell in love immediately with his deep blue eyes and 60 years later, hasn't looked back. 

Carol says the family gathered at a Vancouver park on Easter Sunday to celebrate.

"Remember, daddy would put us on his shoulders and when a wave would come in, he would go 'whoosh' and down and up," Carol said one of her children told her.

Hal was always involved with the family holidays, planning out where the baskets were going to hide and filling the Easter eggs with candy and coins.

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"I always gave Hal a chocolate Easter bunny. I always remembered Hal with an Easter basket as well as the kids. Hal was always fun loving when it came to getting the kid's baskets and setting them up and where we were going to hide them. We would do treasure maps, so they had to go hunt for them."

In 2008 Hal and Carol moved to Vancouver to be closer to family and during a doctor's visit, Hal was diagnosed with Parkinson's disease and then dementia. 

"I took care of him for 12 years, but he liked to fall and I had a hard time at times picking him up. My health is not the best, so I talked with the kids and we all decided that dad would be better in a home," Carol said.

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A few months before senior care homes were locked down from outside visitors, Hal was moved into the IRIS Adult Care Home in Vancouver. Carol would visit him almost daily or call him on the phone, always making sure he had a few of his favorite things.

Credit: The Bailey family

"He always wanted to make sure he had enough cookies, I would take cookies and his kids would bring him cookies."

Then the novel coronavirus, otherwise known as COVID-19, hit. Senior homes were locked down to protect residents from outside visitors to help stop the spread of the virus. 

That also meant Carol couldn't visit Hal in person.

"It is hard, I'm sorry, I'm sorry," she said holding back tears when KGW first spoke with her in March.

Carol looked around her house and saw a sign that had the words of a song she used to sing to her grandchildren, A Bushel and a Peck. Carol walked around the outside of the IRIS adult care home, knocked on the window of the door and sang him a song and danced.

Carol calls and talks to Hal over the phone just to hear his voice and see how he's doing. "Hal is a quiet man. Doesn't say much, he always said I talked enough for both of us."

On Easter Sunday, Carol wanted to celebrate the holiday like she had done so many times over the last six decades. She donned bunny ears and held an Easter basket in her hands filled with a few of his favorite things.

"Hal loves my homemade banana bread and there was homemade banana bread, a chocolate bunny, apple pies, blackberry pies and pepperoni sticks."

And like they had done while their children hunted for Easter eggs, she sang the same song they used to sing together, "Here comes Peter Cottontail."

"That was a song that we always sang as we ran around the yard."

While we wait for this virus to go away, we are kept away from those we love most. Hal doesn't quite understand why they can't be together and Carol can't wait for the day when they can.

It's really heart rendering to hear him. Yesterday, he had tears in his eyes when we left and it just makes you wish you could run over and grab him and hug him, but we know we can't."

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