'Biggest Christmas present' - Couple reunited after nine months apart

Brendan Black and Joan Black reunited after nine months being apart.

Brendan Black and Joan Black reunited after nine months being apart. - Credit: Brendan Black

An emotional husband has expressed his happiness after being reunited with his wife of 63 years just before Christmas for the first time in nine months.

Brendan Black and Joan Black reunited after nine months being apart.

Brendan Black and Joan Black reunited after nine months being apart. - Credit: Brendan Black

Brendan Black, 83, from West Winch, had his first meaningful visit to see his wife Joan, 82, who suffers with dementia, after months of visits to her care home were limited to interactions through a window.

Brendan Black and Joan Black reunited after nine months being apart.

Brendan Black and Joan Black reunited after nine months being apart. - Credit: Lucy Massen

Mr Black expressed his concern last week that he would not be able see her this Christmas.

Brendan Black and Joan Black.

Brendan Black and Joan Black. - Credit: Lucy Massen

But he has since had the vaccination and the provision of lateral flow tests in the care home his wife lives at meant he was able to visit for the first time on Monday, December 21.

Brendan and Joan Black

Brendan and Joan Black. - Credit: Courtesy Brendan Black

He said: "It was really lovely, Joan kissed me on the mask. I'm so happy, I'm so relieved for the future now and making sure her life is a lot better than what it's been.

"To get to see Joan now, I'm happy. I feel 18 again.

"She kept saying to me on our meet 'this is lovely, this is lovely.'

Brendan Black and Joan Black.

Brendan Black and Joan Black. - Credit: Lucy Massen

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"The past months have just been hell for me and people like me that were regular visitors to their loved ones.

"Pre-pandemic it was 24/7 visit when you like, night or day, you just rung the bell - no-one asked you 'who are you'?

"It was lovely and easy, you could go whenever you liked and stay as long as you'd like but with all these restrictions they got slightly like a prison really.

"I've stood out in the cold and rain outside the window and it was hell. On times going out to see her she'd be so frustrated saying 'come in, come in, come in' and I couldn't explain because of her dementia that I couldn't.

"I've never experienced anything as rotten as that in my life."

Brendan Black and Joan Black with family.

Brendan Black and Joan Black with family. - Credit: Lucy Massen

Mr Black said it was the longest time he and his wife had been apart, with the only other time being when he joined the national service in 1958.

He added: "That was a trying time but at least I got leave after a couple of months but this was hell on earth - standing at fences and windows.

"I used to drive away from the visits in tears, I couldn't talk about Joan or explain to anybody that asked how she was getting on, because whenever I mentioned her name or thought of her I just broke up.

"But anyway it's all over now nearly and soon we'll be back to normal.

"It's made my Christmas and that was the biggest Christmas present anybody could have given me. Just being able to see my Joan this week."

Brendan Black and Joan Black with family.

Brendan Black and Joan Black with family. - Credit: Lucy Massen

Mr Black pleaded for more to be done to get Norfolk care homes vaccines and has said the care home his wife is at has not heard anything about receiving them.

He added: "That's the end goal, it's easier for these care homes to get the vaccines than to keep doing these lateral flow tests.

"The quicker we get these vaccines to these small homes the better.

"Care homes do terrific work, even though they have testing now, it's not as easy for them as people think. They have so many jobs to do."

Mr Black visited his wife for the second time on Wednesday, December 23, this time bringing presents from the rest of his family before Christmas Day.

Lucy Massen, his granddaughter, speaking on behalf of the whole family, said: "We are just elated that he has been able to go into the care home and have physical contact with my nan.

"We have seen his mental health deteriorate over the past eight months and since his visit this week he is just on cloud nine and so happy.

"This really has been the best Christmas present for our family."

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