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After a year without visitors, excited Hobart assisted-living residents host family members again

Posted at 10:11 PM, Mar 15, 2021
and last updated 2021-03-15 23:11:10-04

HOBART, Wis. (NBC 26) -- She says 'life can be hard.'

And for Bonnie DeGrave, going almost an entire year without seeing her kids might have been one of the hardest times of all.

"Life is not perfect," she said. "We know that there's ups and downs. What is that old saying? He never promised us a rose garden."

But on Monday, the Emerald Bay assisted living facility in Hobart opened its doors to visitors for the first time since last March.

DeGrave's daughter and son-in-law traveled to see her from North Carolina for the first time since June, when the retirement community allowed outdoor visits.

"I just feel fortunate that my family... we enjoy being all together and doing things," DeGrave said.

"Only two designated people can visit mom, so we had to pick among the whole family members,"DeGrave's daughter Sandy Turrick said. "So our son wanted to come and he couldn't."

Turrick says it didn't feel right not being away from her mother at Thanksgiving and Christmas.

"It was particularly hard for her because no family is in the area," Turrick said. "We're all out of state."

Still, DeGrave made the best of her time alone during the pandemic.

"Mostly, I found I'd get my [photo] albums out and I'd go through the things that we had done and being together," she said.

Some of DeGrave's memories include a 25-year long annual family reunion in Sturgeon Bay that was broken for the first time in 2020.

"When you think everybody feels so sorry for themselves and then you think of the people that were confined, it's really amazing," son-in-law Greg Turrick said.

But after nearly a year of quarantining without getting sick, DeGrave has no regrets. She's just excited to make even more memories when her grandkids come to town.

"It would be so nice to be able to hug them and squeeze them and tell them stories," DeGrave said. "As we grow older, we have so many."