By Velena Jones

SONORA (CBS13) — The pandemic has separated millions of families for months. Now, one Sonora woman is going to extreme lengths to see her husband in a nursing facility.

Linda Bland in her new scrubs.

At 73 years old, Linda Bland did not expect to be going back to school.

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“It’s a lot of things to learn but I think I can do it,” she said.

She is studying to become a certified nursing assistant (CNA), just to be near her favorite patient.

“I love him so much, he is the love of my life,” she said.

Linda went from visiting her husband Jim daily at his Sonora nursing facility, to being forced to say hi to him from outside his window when the pandemic hit.

“He couldn’t even see me. He doesn’t know how to talk on the telephone,” she said. “Very sad, very sad to see him like that.”

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While visiting in-person, nurses put Jim in a sealed booth for safety, but it only caused more confusion for her husband of 26 years, a retired Tuolumne County Sheriff’s lieutenant who has Parkinson’s and dementia.

“I needed to do something because with this pandemic, you don’t see a light at the end of the tunnel. You don’t know when it’s going to be over and I don’t want my husband to die without knowing that I am here,” she said.

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Linda is now spending hours in class and studying to spend just minutes with her husband. On Thursday during her orientation, she spent her 15-minute break holding Jim’s hand for the first time in a year.

“He looks at me as said ‘Oh, you look like her’ and I say ‘Who is her?’ and I said, ‘Your wife?’ And I said, ‘I am your wife, Linda.’ And I start crying,” she said.

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While Jim may not remember the year they’ve lost, he has not forgotten Linda.

“I say I love you a lot and he said I love you too. He was so happy, you could tell,” she said.

A lesson in love and determination, this student could teach a course on.

“He is my husband and I think he would do the same for me,” she said

The CNA course is two months long. From there Linda will have to take a state test to become certified. Even if she doesn’t pass, she said it’s still worth it to be able to see her husband.

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If you need help coping with the loss of contact with a loved one with dementia or Alzheimer’s because of the pandemic, the Northern California Alzheimer’s Association is here to help. You can find resources on their website https://www.alz.org/norcal

Velena Jones