Montreal couple of 72 years reunited after COVID-19 separates them for 3 months

While Anna Driscoll was recovering from a broken hip in a west end health centre, she was unable to care for her husband, Ronald Sweeney. He was moved into a hospital setting and COVID-19 restrictions made getting back together complicated.

Anna Driscoll and Roland Sweeney hadn't been able to see each other since June

Anna Driscoll and Roland Sweeney celebrated their 72nd wedding anniversary last month and were finally able to get close on Sunday after more than three months apart. (Submitted by James Sweeney)

The last three months haven't been easy for 89-year-old Anna Driscoll and her 96-year-old husband, Roland Sweeney.

The two were separated on opposite ends of Montreal because of Driscoll's broken hip and the COVID-19 pandemic.

But they are now together at the veterans' hospital in Sainte-Anne-de-Bellevue, in the West Island of Montreal, much to the relief of their son, James Sweeney. 

"They're always holding hands together," said Sweeney. 

The couple lived together in their home in Rosemont until June 3, when Driscoll was injured in a fall. After being treated at the Santa-Cabrini hospital, she was sent to recover at a facility in the city's Notre-Dame-de-Grâce neighborhood.

With his wife unable to care for him, the Second World War veteran needed to be in a hospital setting. Ronald Sweeney was accepted into the veterans' hospital in early August.

Since the province took over administration of the veterans' hospital in 2016, couples are eligible to be reunited there, but delays in the health-care system meant the two couldn't be reunited at the hospital for weeks.

However, that all changed after CBC News covered the couple's story last month.

Anna Driscoll and Roland Sweeney lived together in Rosemont until June 3. (Submitted by James Sweeney)

Brought back together

With some help from a West Island MNA, the two are now together, reunited on the day of their 72nd anniversary.

"We brought in some paintings and whatever stuff they had at home to make them cozy. We're very, very happy," said the couple's son.

"For the months and years they have to live, at least years they're together. That's what we wanted."

But for Driscoll's first two weeks in the hospital, she was isolated in a room at the far end of the hallway from her husband because of the pandemic.

They were only able to see each other from a distance, but could not touch, or even hold hands. 

Once the isolation period was up, James Sweeney said his parents had an emotional reunion.

James Sweeney, right, said he is happy to see his parents, Ronald Sweeney and Anna Driscoll back together again after so long apart. (Submitted by James Sweeney)

"I haven't seen my father cry very much in his life, but that time [he cried]," he said.

The two now live in neighbouring rooms, joined by a common bathroom.

James Sweeney said, since his father has been in the hospital longer, he knows the ropes a bit more and has been showing his wife around.

"My mother is adjusting," he said. "It's OK. She's happy to be with my dad." 

With the knowledge that his parents are together and cared for, James Sweeney can now turn his attention to his own health.

The 64-year-old was scheduled to have heart bypass surgery in July.

He put that off until he could settle his parents' situation. He's now planning to reschedule the operation in the coming weeks.

Elderly couple in Montreal reunited after 4 months apart

3 years ago
Duration 1:22
James Sweeney says it's a relief for him and his family that his parents, Anna Driscoll and Roland Sweeney, are back together.

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