March 3 was one of the happiest days for Michael Leon and his partner, now wife, Jacqueline Captain. The couple decided they would get married after 22 years together. Eleven days later, they would have to stop seeing each other.
The nursing and rehabilitation facility Captain has been in and out of since April 2019 with an infection and other health problems decided Saturday to close its doors to visitors due to the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic.
“We were just married, but I can’t actually see my Jackie in person,” said Leon, 56. “But, I’m 110% behind these new procedures.”
Many of the people at the nursing facility, including Captain, are highly susceptible to infection and could easily catch the new coronavirus, and Captain said they are no longer allowed to leave their rooms.
“We know what’s going on around the world in terms of the president’s daily briefings, but we don’t necessarily know what’s going on next door,” she said.
Captain, 62, last checked into Capital Lakes skilled nursing and rehabilitation facility the weekend before March 3, when she told Michael there was no time like the present to get married.
“We didn’t know if we were going to be able to get married because I’ve been in and out of hospitals and Capital Lakes,” Captain said. “We kept making plans, setting dates, and I’d end up getting sick again.”
Captain said she was comfortable getting married at the nursing facility because she has spent the most time there in the last year and gotten to know the people there well.
“She said, ‘Go get us married. I don’t care if we do it in the emergency room,’ and I went and got the marriage license,” Leon recalled.
The couple was married by an old friend — attorney Dale Gregory of Fuhrman & Dodge, S.C. in Middleton — in Capitol Lake’s Grand Hall with some 10 people in attendance, including four of Captain’s siblings and some of Leon’s friends. Leon said they had to keep it small because Captain is “still on the mend.”
Leon, a public relations consultant and writer in the Madison area, met and started dating Captain in 1998. They moved in together in 1999 and have lived together since, currently in Fitchburg.
Captain is a project manager in Madison currently on leave due to her health. She formerly worked as a museum curator and was a consultant for the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C., before its opening in 1993.
Leon knows his wife is safer in the nursing facility with its doors closed for now, because the new coronavirus could “really do a lot of damage” there. He said he works with the staff there to mitigate feelings of loneliness by making sure Captain is still in touch with the outside world and involved in tasks that need her attention, such as voting by absentee ballot.
“It’s very difficult not being able to see my Jackie,” he said. “For anyone to be isolated during the challenge of recovery, it’s kind of a kick in the gut. But, we’re doing our best.”
Captain, meanwhile, is anxiously waiting for the day the lock down is over.
“It’s hard not to feel some despair,” she said. “I want to go home.”
EDITOR'S NOTE: This story has been updated to correct the name and location of Middleton law firm Fuhrman & Dodge, S.C.
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