Alabama couple reunited 1 year after pandemic ended nursing home visits

Montgomery man visits wife 1 year after nursing homes ended visitations

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WSFA) - It was a story that exploded onto social media and went viral like the pandemic that caused it. A Montgomery man was forced to visit the love of his life through a screen window at the nursing home where she lives.

Dr. John Kline, shown here in this March 20, 2020 photo, spent about 15 minutes a day at the window of his wife's nursing home because he couldn't go inside. A year later, they're finally reunited face-to-face.
Dr. John Kline, shown here in this March 20, 2020 photo, spent about 15 minutes a day at the window of his wife's nursing home because he couldn't go inside. A year later, they're finally reunited face-to-face. (Source: WSFA)

Somehow, someway over the last year, love found a way.

Ann Kline listens to her husband sing to her through a window at the nursing home where she stays in this March 20, 2020 photo. A year later, with COVID-19 visitor regulations relaxed, he visits her room to see her in person.
Ann Kline listens to her husband sing to her through a window at the nursing home where she stays in this March 20, 2020 photo. A year later, with COVID-19 visitor regulations relaxed, he visits her room to see her in person. (Source: WSFA 12 News)

John Kline visited his wife Ann for the third time in less than a week on Monday afternoon. It was another much needed in-person visit since nursing home rules have been relaxed amid falling case numbers.

Not long after the nurse brought Mrs. Kline into her room, her husband expressed his joy with a catchy song.

“I’ve got the joy, joy, joy down in my heart, down in my heart,” he sang to her. And how sweet it was for him after spending 12 months with window visits and Facetime videos that just weren’t the same.

“But this is so much better,” he said as he touched her shoulder.

It was one year ago when we captured Kline standing at the window screen to his wife’s room, singing one of their favorite songs, the old hymn “The Old Rugged Cross.”

“On a hill far away,” he sang in March of 2020. “It’s exciting because some songs she still remembers,” he explained.

Kline had no way of knowing whether his bride, who has Alzheimer’s, would contract the COVID-19.

“Oh yes, sometimes I’d get a little sad and cry about things,” he admitted.

A photo of John and Ann Kline. Married for 40 years, the couple was unable to see each other face-to-face for a year because of nursing home pandemic restrictions.
A photo of John and Ann Kline. Married for 40 years, the couple was unable to see each other face-to-face for a year because of nursing home pandemic restrictions. (Source: WSFA 12 News)

The nursing home ended up getting less than 20 positive cases by December. Ann Kline was not among them.

It was Terri Howell who came up with the novel idea of screen visits.

“There was guidance out there that said we needed to figure out a way to make it happen,” said Howell, the administrator at John Knox Manor.

During their year apart, John Kline got a little down but never depressed. He always felt he would see his wife of more than 40 years once again, and so here we are.

“I could see it was going to take a while,” he said.

Mrs. Kline has battled Alzheimer’s for 18 years. Her husband feels she recognizes him at times, especially when he sings to her familiar songs like “Amazing grace.”

“I love you, John,” she told her husband on Monday. It’s love decades in the making, now reunited face-to-face.

Howell said the day after visitor guidelines were relaxed, 32 visitors showed up. That represents nearly half of the home’s 67 residents. She added that all 67 have been vaccinated against the virus.

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