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Sending smiles to grandma


GALENA–Joanne Wills was surprised on Saturday, March 21 when her family showed up outside her window at Galena Stauss Assisted Living. The day was supposed to be the family’s annual trip; however, their plans changed and they decided to stay home and baked cookies with grandparents Tom and Terri Richardson who are neighbors and live between their two children, so the family is always close together. Richardson and her daughter, Rachael Ehrler, had the idea that they should draw pictures and signs for Richardson’s mom, Joanne Wills, who lives in assisted living.

Residents at assisted living have not been allowed to have visitors due to the coronavirus pandemic, and Richardson thought that the signs would make Wills’ day and that she would appreciate them.

“We all worked together to come up with our signs of joy,” said Ehrler.

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The family drove to the assisted living campus and called Wills to tell her that they would be visiting her window. Ehrler said that as soon as they pulled up to the building they saw Wills with her blinds open, her window wide open and a big smile on her face. Each of the family members took a turn explaining their sign to Wills. Ehrler said that Wills shed a couple tears as did Ehrler and Richardson.

“It is hard seeing her isolated in her apartment and being limited to activities such as playing bingo and euchre, which are her two favorite things,” said Ehrler. “She was so excited to see us and it really made her day. The best part was that all the great-grandkids realized afterwards that just one picture could really change how someone feels.”

Ehrler said the staff at assisted living have been amazing to Wills and deserve a lot of credit for their care for the residents during this time, playing games and cards with them, which Ehrler said Wills and the other residents really enjoy.