The Current

After four months, visit with 92-year-old dad in B.C. care home leaves son 'overjoyed'

For four months, since the beginning of the pandemic, Wayne Moriarty could only visit his father from a distance. His father, Paul, is 92 and lives in a long-term care home in Vancouver. Visits have been restricted to Moriarty yelling from the sidewalk at his father's upstairs window. 

Wayne Moriarty is prepared to wait for a vaccine before he will hug his father again

Wayne Moriarty visits his father, Paul, in Vancouver after weeks of having to see each other from across the street. (Submitted by Wayne Moriarty)
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For four months, since the beginning of the pandemic, Wayne Moriarty could only visit his father from a distance. 

His dad, Paul, is 92 and lives in a long-term care home in Vancouver. Visits have been restricted to Moriarty yelling from the sidewalk at his father's upstairs window. 

On June 30, British Columbia announced changes to the rules, and now some visits, with precautions, are allowed to care homes. 

Residents will be able to see one person at a time — a single, "designated" visitor — in a designated area. The visits will be booked in advance and can happen indoors, outdoors or, in some cases, in a single room. 

Moriarty told The Current guest host Mark Kelley that their first in-person visit together left him "overjoyed."  

Here is part of their conversation. 

Tell us about that first visit, getting close to your dad after so many months. How'd it go for you? 

This first visit was a very emotional, probably more emotional for me than it was for him. He has dementia. 

He probably thinks he sees me every day. But when I saw him coming down with a couple of angels on his wings helping him walk toward me, I lost it. I was so moved. 

Moriarty says he is willing to wait for a vaccine before he will hug his father again. (Submitted by Wayne Moriarty)

Why was it just so different this time, Wayne? I know you've been hollering at your dad from the sidewalk, but tell us about the difference of just getting close to your dad.  

We were quite literally three, four or five feet apart [at] different ends of a table with a big plastic shield between us. We were unable to walk around, so there was no way of touching each other, but we were close enough that I felt him. We were able to to put our hands together on the plastic shield. It kind of felt like a prison visit in some ways.

But it was a really lovely thing. And he looked so good. I was so relieved to see he was mobile and how lucid he still was. He really has not appeared to have lost all that much in terms of his mobility and in terms of his is infirmity over the course of the four months. That was such a relief. 

Even just touching him through that little bit of plastic made a world of difference to me. 

We all want to get close to our loved ones. Did you have any concern about that? About putting him at risk in any way? 

Oh, I've had huge concerns. That's why I've been very understanding, sympathetic and compliant with regard to regulations. 

We know what [COVID-19] has done in care homes across the country. I remain fully prepared that I may not be able to go for a walk with him, I may not be able to physically touch him and hug him again until there is a vaccine. I'm prepared for that.

WATCH | Vancouver man calls to 92-year-old father from outside care home:

Wayne Moriarty is counting down the days until he can hug his 92-year-old father again as the province begins lifts some of the restrictions on visitors to long-term care homes. 1:08

I'm prepared to accept this small blessing — this penny from heaven — that I can actually be this close to him. So, yeah, I'm going to be quite compliant with regard to whatever health authorities tell me to do and tell us all to do. I'm happy to see that they have been so accommodating in so many ways to minimize the effect on families. It's been kind of a beautiful thing. 

Was it tough to say goodbye to your dad or are you going to be able to see him soon? 

Yes. I'm going to see him very soon, I think the next meeting ought to be in another week to 10 days. 

I was very fortunate that the couple, the group behind us, didn't show up. Because they schedule these visits, the meeting ended up being about well over an hour and a half. 

So I felt spoiled. Saying goodbye was tough, but I felt extremely lucky that I got to visit him for that long.   

Moriarty said it saying goodbye was tough, but he felt 'extremely lucky' to visit his father again. (Submitted by Wayne Moriarty)

Written by Adam Jacobson. Produced by Arianne Robinson. Q&A has been edited for length and clarity.

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