GROVE CITY, Pa. (KDKA) – When the virus locked people out of nursing homes, one Grove City man found a creative way to get in. “On a Positive Note,” he shows us why time is always more valuable than money.
Wayne Winarski enters the kitchen every afternoon around 4. He preps the dishes and pours the coffee, as Quality Life Services’ newest employee just shy of 80 years old.READ MORE: College Students Across Western Pennsylvania Celebrate Commencement In Person
KDKA’s Meghan Schiller asked him: “How much does this beat retirement?”
“Quite a bit,” Winarski said. “I didn’t expect to come back to work but it’s a good thing I did.”
Wayne started his job at the Grove City nursing home a few months into the pandemic, but he didn’t go back to work for the money. He couldn’t bear staring through the windows any longer.
“Hey, Kathleen. You like it here! In this room? Hey, I love you – can you say that?”
Working here allows him to see her.
“As far as I could come was in the lobby here and look at her through the window and she couldn’t pay no attention to me because she couldn’t recognize me.”
Dementia stole Kathleen’s memory many years ago and she moved here for around-the-clock care. Wayne won’t leave her side.READ MORE: 100 Years Of The Double Dip: Kennywood Reopens And Celebrates Milestone For The Jack Rabbit
“I tell her I love her constantly,” he explained. “She’ll mimic back ‘I love you too.’ It’s hard to understand, but she understands quite a bit more than what you think.”
He thinks she understands that he’s there, even though his visits come squeezed between prepping trays and cleaning dishes.
“I’d get here about 2 hours early every day and I’d bring her a donut,” he said. “Then I’d come up at night after work around 8:30-9 and sit with her another hour.”
It’s a long day, but Wayne says every hour is a gift.
“I couldn’t live without her,” Wayne said. “She’s the other half of my life.”
It’s all worth it for just one lucid moment where Kathleen squeezes his nose and smiles.
Wayne tells KDKA’s Meghan Schiller he agreed to give us a peek into his love story so Kathleen’s friends and family could see her.
With visitations allowed now, will Wayne retire once again?MORE NEWS: First Week Of Landmark Trial Against Opioid Distributors In West Virginia Comes To An End
He offered a very practical answer, saying if he’s going to be there anyway, he might as well help in the kitchen and use the money to pay for gas.